Lyceum Movement - United States
Named for the place where Aristotle lectured in ancient Greece, the lyceum movement was an early form of popular adult education that flourished in the United States during the 19th century.
Numbering around 3,000 by 1834, local associations or societies provided concerts, debates, demonstrations, and lectures on topics of current interest.
Noted lecturers, entertainers, and readers would travel the “lyceum circuit,” going from town-to-town or state-to-state to entertain, speak, or debate in a variety of locations.
An American Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge was founded as part of the lyceum movement in the United States around the same period.
Its Boston branch was active from 1829 to 1947 and sponsored lectures by speakers, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson. In fact, many of Emerson’s essays were originally written as lyceum lectures.
The combination of lecture-style and encyclopedia formats influenced the content and arrangement of popular works for young people.
Educators shared this influence and incorporated practical and applied knowledge into general school curriculums.
The distinctions of race and civilization were among the topics of knowledge considered useful.
Lecture Movements - Britain
Like the American Lyceum Movement, British lecturers and publishers created a similar climate of self-education and self-improvement.
The British Workman was a broadsheet periodical published monthly in England between 1855 and 1892. Its aim was to "promote the health, wealth and happiness of the working classes."
Both the continued popularity of almanacs and advertisment of The British Workman in Mrs. Ward's Coleraine Almanac and Directory for 1861 speak to the influential social message of self-improvement.
William Johnson Fox was an English religious and political orator and social reformer. A prolific lecturer, he frequently travelled and spoke on numerous topics. Fox also compiled three volumes of his speeches before popular working class audiences.