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A little bit more about lyceums

Started in Massachusetts by one Josiah Holbrook in 1826. He organized a program of adult education courses and named the program lyceum after Aristotle's school in ancient Athens. The programs proved to be extremely popular and began to spread. In 1831, the National American Lyceum was established in New York City. In the years that followed, lyceum organizations were sreading all across the country.

In the lyceum environment, audiences heard lectures and concerts, watched scientific demonstrations and participated in debates and discussion groups surrounding topics of the day. Other institutions soon sprung up. Places such as the Lowell Institute in Boston and Cooper Union in New York were first established as lyceums. Lyceums attracted many of the best known artists, writers, politicians and journalists of the time.

Lyceums were most active in the 1830's through the 1860's. The "lyceum movement" played an important role in the development of the American public education system and social reform. After the Civil War, sadly, its influence began to wane but was carried on by the Chautauqua Movement.

Ly*ce"um (?), n.; pl. E. Lyceums (#), L. Lycea (#). [L. lyceum, Gr. , so named after the neighboring temple of Apollo the wolf slayer, prob. fr. belonging to a wolf, fr wolf. See Wolf.]


A place of exercise with covered walks, in the suburbs of Athens, where Aristotle taught philosophy.


A house or apartment appropriated to instruction by lectures or disquisitions.


A higher school, in Europe, which prepares youths for the university.


An association for debate and literary improvement.


© Webster 1913.

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