Compass: Folk Art in Four Directions
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  • Joseph H. Davis (act. 1832–1837)
  • Probably Barrington, New Hampshire
  • 1836
  • Watercolor, pencil, and ink on paper
  • 9 11/16 x 11 in. (sight)
  • Private collection

    The schoolmaster was an important member of a community. In district or common schools, it was customary for the teacher to be a young man during the winter months and a woman during the summer, when farming and other occupations may have taken precedence. According to his obituary in the Freewill Baptist organ The Morningstar, John F. Demeritt “devoted his early life to teaching common schools and always manifested a deep interest in the education of the young in his vicinity.” Geography was clearly part of this education as indicated in this drawing. In addition to map study, teaching geography to young girls might involve “working maps” as part of the regular curriculum.