History of the School Textbook

  • Steffen Sammler


The institutionalisation of school-based education and the technical advances of the printing press from the fifteenth century onwards acted together to secure the textbook its prime place as the key medium for education in European schools. It has held this position unrivalled until the very recent emergence, commencing around the turn of the millennium, of its first radical challenge in the shape of digitalisation and the novel possibilities for the transmission of knowledge it presents. Historically, textbooks have long been subject to control exercised through education policy by and on behalf of societal elites, a control emerging through competition among specialist subject disciplines and education science, which together define the canon of knowledge to be taught in each school subject. This said, textbooks have responded to profound changes in society’s ideas of childhood and adolescence by developing target group-specific products which have harnessed aesthetic and technical innovations.


  1. Altbach, P. G. (1991). Textbooks: The International Dimension. In M. W. Apple & L. K. Christian-Smith (Eds.), The Politics of the Textbook. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Altbach, P. G., & Kelly, G. P. (Eds.). (1988). Textbooks in the Third World: Policy, Content and Context. New York/London: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  3. Choppin, A. (1980). L’histoire des manuels scolaires. Une approche globale. Histoire de l’Education, 3(9), 1–25.Google Scholar
  4. Choppin, A. (2002). L’histoire du livre et de l’éducation scolaire: vers un état des lieux’ in M. Del Mar del Ponzo Andrés, J. Dekker, F. Simon and W. Urban (eds), ‘Books and Education: 500 Years of Reading and Learning’, Paedagogica Historica. International Journal of Education, 38(1), 21–49.Google Scholar
  5. Choppin, A. (2008). Le manuel scolaire, une fausse évidence historique. Histoire de l’éducation, 23(117), 7–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chow, K.-W. (2007). Reinventing Gutenberg: Woodblock and Movable-Type Printing in Europe and China. In S. A. Baron, E. N. Lindquist, & E. F. Shevlin (Eds.), Agent of Change: Print Culture Studies After Elizabeth L. Eisenstein (pp. 169–192). Amherst/Boston: University of Massachusetts Press.Google Scholar
  7. Comenius, J. A. (1658). Orbis Senbsualium Pictus. Nürnberg: Endter.Google Scholar
  8. Cornish, W. (2010). The Statute of Anne 1709–10: Its Historical Setting. In L. Bently, U. Suthersanen, & P. Torremans (Eds.), Global Copyright: Three Hundred Years Since the Statute of Anne, from 1709 to Cyberspace (pp. 14–26). Cheltenham: Elgar.Google Scholar
  9. Del Corso, L., & Pecere, O. (2010). Libri di scuola e pratiche didattiche: Dall‘antichità al rinascimento. Cassino: Università di Cassino.Google Scholar
  10. Giesecke, M. (1998). Der Buchdruck in der Frühen Neuzeit. Eine historische Fallstudie über die Durchsetzung neuer Informations- und Kommunikationstechnologien. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  11. Haug, C., & Frimmel, J. (Eds.). (2015). Schulbücher um 1800. Ein Spezialmarkt zwischen staatlichem, volksaufklärerischem und konfessionellem Auftrag. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.Google Scholar
  12. Hellekamps, S., Le Cam, J., & Conrad, A. (Eds.). (2012). Schulbücher und Lektüren in der vormodernen Unterrichtspraxis. Schoolbooks and Reading in Early Modern Lessons. Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft, special issue 17.Google Scholar
  13. Johnsen, E. B. (1993). Textbooks in the Kaleidoscope: A Critical Survey of Literature and Research on Educational Texts. Oslo: Scandinavian University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Kissling, W. (1995). “…Die Jugend aus keinem anderen als den vorgeschriebenen Büchern unterweisen” – Das Hilfsmittel Schulbuch als historisches Medium staatlicher Unterrichtskontrolle. In R. Olechowski (Ed.), Schulbuchforschung (pp. 116–174). Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  15. Lukas, M., & Munjiza, E. (2014). Education System of John Amos Comenius and Its Implications in Modern Didactics. Zivot I skola, 31(1), 32–44.Google Scholar
  16. Manz, W. (1966). Der Königlich-bayerische Zentralschulbücherverlag 1785 bis 1849 (1905). Der Staat als Schulbuchverleger im 19. Jahrhundert. Archiv für Geschichte des Buchwesens, 6, 2–312.Google Scholar
  17. Matthes, E., & Schütze, S. (Eds.). (2016). Schulbücher auf dem Prüfstand. Textbooks Under Scrutiny. Bad Heilbrunn: Klinkhardt.Google Scholar
  18. Raven, J. (2015). The Industrial Revolution of the Book. In L. Howsam (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the History of the Book (pp. 143–160). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Rokitjanskij, V. R. (1990). Istorija skol’nych ucebnych knig. Moskow: Prosvescenie.Google Scholar
  20. Sammler, S., Macgilchrist, F., Müller, L., & Otto, M. (2016). Textbook Production in a Hybrid Age: Contemporary and Historical Perspectives on Producing Textbooks and Digital Educational Media (p. 6). Eckert: Dossiers.Google Scholar
  21. Stray, C. (1997). Paradigms Lost: Towards a Historical Sociology of the Textbook. In S. Selander (Ed.), Textbooks and Educational Media: Collected Papers 1991–1995 (pp. 57–73). Stockholm: University of Tartu Press.Google Scholar
  22. Tuer, A. W. (1897). History of the Horn Book. London: The Leadenhall Press.Google Scholar
  23. Tyack, D., & Tobin, W. (1994). The “Grammar” of Schooling: Why Has It Been So Hard to Change? American Educational Research Journal, 31(3), 453–479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Üçerler, M. A. J. (2000). Missionary Printing. In M. F. Suarez & H. R. Woudhuysen (Eds.), The Oxford Companion to the Book (pp. 73–78). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Venezky, R. L. (1992). Textbooks in School and Society. In P. W. Jackson (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Curricula (pp. 436–461). New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  26. Westerhoff, J. H. (1978). McGuffrey and His Readers: Piety, Morality, and Education in Nineteenth-Century America. Nashville: Abingdon Press.Google Scholar
  27. Wille, I. (1997). Das schwedische ABC Buch vergangener Jahrhunderte. In G. Teistler (Ed.), Fibelgeschichte/History of Primers. Internationale Schulbuchforschung/International Textbook Research, 19(3), 239–248.Google Scholar
  28. Woodward, A. (1994). Textbooks. In T. Husén, T. Neville, & H. W. Postlet (Eds.), The International Encyclopedia of Education (Vol. 11, 2nd ed., pp. 6366–6371). Oxford/New York/Tokyo: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  29. Zuev, D. (1983). Skolny ucebnyk. Moskow: Pedagogika.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steffen Sammler
    • 1
  1. 1.Georg Eckert Institute - Leibniz-Institute for International Textbook ResearchBraunschweigGermany

Personalised recommendations