Henry Barnard

Detail of Henry Wright Smith’s portrait of Henry Barnard
– Connecticut Historical Society and Connecticut History Online

Henry Barnard (1811-1900)

Henry Barnard took his frustrating experiences as a young student and used them to reform education both in Connecticut and across the United States. A Hartford native, Barnard became a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives in 1837 and the first Secretary of the Connecticut Board of Commissioners of Common Schools a year later. He argued in favor of offering more varied school subjects to children, using learning aids (like maps and globes) in the classroom, and providing more training for teachers. In 1867, he became the first US Commissioner of Education. After retiring from public office, he continued his reform efforts through his work with the American Journal of Education and his promotion of the Connecticut Historical Society.

More on Henry Barnard from the CT Digital Archive

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Norwich Free Academy, School Architecture: Pt. II. Plans for Graded Schools by Henry Barnard

Henry Barnard Advances State and National Education Initiatives

This 19th-century reformer sought to promote harmonious social and civic behavior by revamping the US school system. …[more]

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Cedar Hill Cemetery Foundation. “Henry Barnard (1811 – 1900),” 2013. Link.


Connecticut Historical Society. “A Guide to the Henry Barnard Papers,” 2016. Link.
Connecticut Digital Archive. “Henry Barnard Collection,” n.d. Link.


Brubacher, John Seiler. Henry Barnard on Education. New York, NY: Russell & Russell, 1965.
Barnard, Henry, and Vincent P. Lannie. Henry Barnard, American Educator. New York, NY: Teachers College Press, 1974.
MacMullen, Edith Nye. In the Cause of True Education: Henry Barnard & Nineteenth-Century School Reform. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1991.
Steiner, Bernard C., and David N. Camp. Life of Henry Barnard: The First United States Commissioner of Education, 1867-1870. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1919. Link.
Barnard, Henry. Practical Illustrations of the Principles of School Architecture. Hartford, CT: Case, Tiffany and Company, 1851. Link.
Monroe, W. S. The Educational Labors of Henry Barnard a Study in the History of American Pedagogy. Syracuse, NY: C.W. Bardeen, 1893. Link.
Barnard, Henry. Tribute to Gallaudet. A Discourse in Commemoration of the Life, Character and Services of the Rev. Thomas H. Gallaudet, Ll. D. Hartford, CT: Brockett, Hutchinson & Company, 1854. Link.