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Series Descriptions

There are over 80 books included in the Heritage History Early America Classical Library. More than half of these books are part of a series, produced either by a single author or by a group of authors working with a specific publisher. Some of these series focus mainly on topics central to American history, while others cover a broad range of civilizations.

All the series in the Early American library are included in the table below. In some cases, all of the books in the series relate to American history, but in others cases, most of the books pertain to other civilizations. American History related titles are highlighted, but all other titles are listed so that when a student finds a book he enjoys, he can locate similar volumes.

Although an overall description of each series is provided, the content of specific books is not indicated. To see a short synopsis of individual books included in the Early America library, see the Book Summaries page.

Series Title Description Volumes Author
American History Stories American history from colonial times to the civil war, told in short stories. 4 of 4 Pratt
Colonial Children Historical fiction featuring children of colonial times in America. 12 of 12 Otis
Great Americans Short stories and anecdotes from American History. 2 of 2 Eggleston
Children’s Heroes Biographies of many of the most exciting characters of history, particularly British history. 1 of 13 various
Old Time Tales Short stories from the American, European, and Biblical History. 1 of 3 Evans
Twins of the World Historical fiction featuring boy and girl twins from countries around the globe. 1 of 10 Perkins
Guerber's Elementary Histories Introduction to classical history for middle school students 2 of 7 Guerber
American Frontier Battles Entertaining and descriptive battle stories from the American West 3 of 3 Sabin
Four Great Americans Collective biographies of famous Americans, organized by occupation 4 of 8 various
Trail Blazers Historical Fiction Historical Fiction following American Explorers and Generals 4 of 9 Sabin
Famous Americans for Young Readers Children's biographies of famous Americans 3 of 8 various
Historical Tales Historical Tales from Western Civilization 2 of 12 Charles Morris
Pioneers and Patriots of America Biographies of American explorers and patriots 4 of 12 J. S. C. Abbott

American History Stories

Mara Pratt was a prolific author of children’s history books in the late 19th century, and her American History Stories series includes many of the most famous anecdotes from the early days of the colonies to the close of the civil war. The books are intended for young readers and tell short stories of interesting characters and events rather than providing civics instruction on constitutional matters.

In addition to introducing important historical characters by way of short vignettes, Pratt also uses songs, poems and art to illustrate her stories. Several chapters consist only of lyrics or verses composed in honor of specific events or characters. Pratt delights in telling interesting stories of not-so-famous people who in some way or another supported American values or advanced the cause of freedom.

American History Stories by Mara L. Pratt
Title Compact Library size
American History Stories—I: Colonial EraEarly America, Young Readers59
American History Stories—II: Revolutionary TimesEarly America, Young Readers59
American History Stories—III: National PeriodEarly America, Young Readers59
American History Stories—IV: Civil WarEarly America, Young Readers74

Colonial Children Series

James Otis was a very popular children’s author around the turn of the century, although his primary genre was historical fiction rather than regular history. In this series, set in the early years of colonial America, the protagonist of each book is a young child of American settlers. The point of the series is not to deal in detail with political events, but rather to show the manner in which the children of early pioneers and colonists lived their everyday lives. The following is from the introduction to Richard of Jamestown.

"The purpose of this series of stories is to show children, and those who have already taken up the study of history, the home life of the colonists with whom they meet in their books. To this end every effort has been made to avoid anything savoring of romance, and to deal only with facts, so far as it is possible, while describing the daily life of those people who conquered the wilderness whether for conscience sake or for gain.

That the stories may appeal more directly to the children, they are told from the viewpoint of a child, and purport to have been related by a child. Should any criticism be made regarding the seeming neglect to mention important historical facts, the answer would be that these books are not sent out as histories,—although it is believed that they will awaken a desire to learn more of the building of the nation,—and only such incidents as would be particularly noted by a child are used."

The Colonial Children's series is extremely well done and includes dozens of interesting illustrations. It provides an excellent transition between chapter-book style fiction and genuine history for grammar school children.

Colonial Children by James Otis
Title Compact Library size
Richard of JamestownEarly America, Young Readers 66
Ruth of BostonEarly America, Young Readers 64
Peter of AmsterdamEarly America, Young Readers 62
Stephen of PhiladelphiaEarly America, Young Readers 67
Seth of ColoradoEarly America, Young Readers 60
Hannah of KentuckyEarly America, Young Readers 62
Benjamin of OhioEarly America 64
Mary of PlymouthEarly America 63
Antoine of OregonEarly America 60
Calvert of MarylandEarly America 68
Philip of TexasEarly America 60
Martha of CaliforniaEarly America 58

Great Americans Series

Edward Eggleston was an America author, well-known both as a historian for children, and as an author of fiction. Eggleston wrote serious history for adults and was particularly well known for his "local-color" accounts of small-town American life. When he tackled children's history it was with the specific intention of engaging young children with anecdotes of early American life—particularly that of the pioneers and explorers who settled this great land with little more than their own courage and wit. The following paragraph is taken from his Preface to American Life and Adventure.

. . . The stories and sketches in this book relate mainly to earlier times and to conditions very different from those of our own day. They will help the pupil to apprehend the life and spirit of our forefathers. Many of them are such as make him acquainted with that adventurous pioneer life, which thus far has been the largest element in our social history, and which has given to the national character the traits of quick-wittedness, humor, self-reliance, love of liberty, and democratic feeling. These traits in combination distinguish us from other peoples.

Eggleston was a gifted writer and both of these book were written specifically for very young readers. They use short sentences, short chapters, and a limited vocabulary that is accessible to beginning readers, while retaining interest and capturing the authentic spirit of early America.

Great American Series by Edward Eggleston
Title Compact Library size
Great Americans for Little Americans   Early America, Young Readers 60
American Life and Adventure   Early America, Young Readers 84

Guerber's Elementary Histories

Helene Guerber was an American author whose series of historical readers provides an excellent introduction to the major societies of Western Civilization. She writes specifically for an early middle school audience and every book is divided into short chapters, each of which deals with a specific character or event. Guerber is an excellent writer who tells her stories with great interest. She understands her students' mindset well, and states in one of her introductions:

This elementary history of Greece . . .is made up principally of stories about persons; for, while history proper is largely beyond the comprehension of children, they are able at an early age to understand and enjoy anecdotes of people, especially of those in the childhood of civilization. At the same time, these stories will give a clear idea of the most important events that have taken place in the ancient world, and, it is hoped, will arouse a desire to read further.

Guerber wrote around the turn of the century, primarily for the American Book Company, which at the time supplied a great many textbooks for use in American public schools. Her histories were very popular with American students in the early decades of the twentieth century.

Classical Histories for Young People by Helene Guerber
Title Compact Library size
Story of the Greeks Ancient Greece 116
Story of the Romans Ancient Rome 114
Story of the English British Middle Ages 145
Story of Old France Christian Europe 165
Story of Modern France Modern Europe 142
Story of Thirteen Colonies Early America 141
Story of Great Republic Early America 151

American Boys' Frontier Battles

Edwin Sabin grew up in the Midwest and worked for a time in the newspaper business before setting about to the task of writing, "American History stories, of the adventure kind." His particular interest was the conquest and settlement of the west and the border wars fought by early American pioneers. The Boy's Book of Indians Warriors was the first book in his frontier fighter series, and is told primarily from the Indian point of view. Other wars covered in his trilogy include the French and Indian Wars, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 including the Creek Wars, the Mexican American War, and a selection of Indian Wars.

Boy's Frontier Battles by Edwin Sabin
Title Compact Library size
Boys' Book of Indian Warriors Early America 146
Boys' Book of Border Battles Early America 140
Boys' Book of Frontier Fighters Early America 152

Four Great Americans

This series of American biographies was edited by James Baldwin, of the American Book Company, a prominent editor of children's books in the early twentieth century. Each volume features the life stories of four prominent Americans written at an upper grammar or middle school level. In order to appeal to young readers, most of the biographies spend a considerable amount of time on the formative years of their subjects, and explain their accomplishments in terms that are of interest to a young audience.

Four Great Americans by various authors
Title Compact Library size
Four Great Americans by Baldwin Early America, Young Readers 74
Four American Patriots by Burton Early America 81
Four American Indians by Perry Early America 93
Four American Inventors by Perry Early America 83
Four American Explorers by Kingsley    
Four American Poets by Cody    
Four American Pioneers by Perry    
Four American Naval Heroes by Beebe    
Four Famous American Writers by Cody    
Great American Educators by Winship    

Famous Americans for Young Readers

This series of American biographies features well-known American statesmen, authors, explorers and inventors. Each volume is written at middle school level and in order to hold the interest of younger students, emphasizes stories from the subject's childhood and personal anecdotes that show his or her character.

Famous Americans for Young Readers by various authors
Title Compact Library size
Thomas Jefferson by Stone Early America 56
Theodore Roosevelt by McSpadden Early America 60
Harriet Beecher Stowe by MacArthur Early America 53
John Paul Jones by Fraser    
Abraham Lincoln by McSpadden    
Mary Lyon by Stengel    
Robert Fulton by McFee    
George Washington by Walker    

Trail Blazers Historical Fiction

Whether Sabin was contributing to the "Trail Blazer" series or to the "Great West" and the "Range and Trail" series, his plots were ingenious and his research as meticulous as he could make it. He soon learned that historical investigation was much like stepping into quicksand—the more one struggled to find truth, the more one sank by the pull of endless problems and queries. He did the best he could, scouring the country for primary sources and hard evidence. Perhaps no author of juveniles of the day labored harder to base his work on facts, or what were believed to be facts.

The previous quote, from a short biography of Edwin L. Sabin's life, illustrates what an outstanding historian he was. His historical fiction as well as his action-packed historical anecdotes are rich in detail. Much of his dialogue, of course, is made up, but even so it abounds with authentic character and accents. Almost all of Sabin's most notable works relate to the conquest and settlement of the American frontier, from the earliest colonial settlers in the east to the cowboys and Indians of the West.

Sabin's Trail Blazer series exemplifies the best kind of historical fiction. The plot lines often feature a young lad who accompanies a famous historical character on his feats of daring-do. He tells engaging, as well as historically valuable stories and a great deal of information can be absorbed effortlessly by his readers. The subjects of the Trail Blazer stories include many of the most famous heroes of the west, including Daniel Boone, Davy Crocket, General Custer, Zebulon Pike, Sam Houston, Kit Carson, and many others.

Trail Blazers Historical Fiction by Edwin Sabin
Title Compact Library size
Into Mexico with General Scott Early America, Spanish Empire 141
With Lieutenant Pike Early America 114
Opening the West With Lewis and Clark Early America 114
Gold Seekers of '49 Early America 134
With Sam Houston in Texas    
Adventures with Carson and Fremont    
On the Plains with Custer    
David Crockett: Scout    
Buffalo Bill and the Overland Trail    

Twins of the World Series

This series of books introduces world geography and the customs of different civilizations, by telling the story of a pair of twins growing up in various countries. The books are written for grammar school students and each features a set of twins—always a boy and a girl—who are young and curious. The plots are simple, but the characters themselves are developed in enough detail to be of real interest.

The books deal primarily with lifestyle and social concerns rather than historical or political issues. Several of the stories are set with a historical circumstance such as a war, a flood, or land-reform in the background and in these cases, the situation of a family in unusually difficult circumstances is portrayed. Even in the most trying of times, however, the focus is on presenting the daily activities and education of children rather than on exploring the political dimensions of the situation. In all cases the story is told in such a way that it is entirely accessible to grammar school age children.

Twins of the World by Lucy Fitch Perkins
Title Compact Library size
Dutch Twins Young Readers 50
Eskimo Twins Young Readers 49
Japanese Twins Young Readers 47
Swiss Twins Young Readers 32
Scotch Twins British Middle Ages, Young Readers 57
Mexican Twins Spanish Empire, Young Readers 52
Belgian Twins Modern Europe, Young Readers 48
French Twins Modern Europe, Young Readers 50
Spartan Twins Ancient Greece, Young Readers 43
Puritan Twins Early America, Young Readers 45

Old Time Tales

Lawton Evans was a public school teacher from Augusta, Georgia, and an extraordinarily talented storyteller. In the first decades of the twentieth century he wrote a series of story books based on historical episodes and several American history textbooks. The Old Time Tales series is a collection of his best stories from American history, European history, and Biblical history.

Evans believed strongly in story-based history, and his books were favorites of school children throughout the nation. America First is a collection of 100 fascinating stories from American history, many involving interesting anecdotes from lesser-known characters, as well as retellings of some of the most famous episodes in American history. It is not a comprehensive history by any means, since the stories are of diverse origin and generally unconnected. Likewise, Old Time Tales (also published under the title Kings and Knights of Old), tells a variety of stories from European History from the last days of the Roman Empire to the French Revolution. Heroes of Israel retells stories form the Old Testament in chronological order, but each story is told with great interest at a level comprehensible to a grammar school student.

Old Time Tales by Lawton Evans
Title Compact Library size
America FirstEarly America, Young Readers 151
Old Time TalesChristian Europe, Young Readers 112
Heroes of IsraelYoung Readers 130

Children’s Heroes Series

The Children's Heroes series was published in the early 1900s by T.C. and E.C. Jack, and has many of the same positive attributes as their well-known Told to the Children series. Instead of focusing on literature, however, it is a series of biographies, primarily about historical English men-of-action. Several of the "heroes" described in this series were not unambiguously good men, but all lived important and action-filled lives that are of great interest to young people.

A few of the heroes introduced in these tales, such as Lincoln, Columbus, and Joan of Arc, were not British, but most of the others were. This series, therefore, is not only a wonderful collection of fascinating biographies, but also gives terrific insights into British history. We recommended many of these books to older students who are undertaking a comprehensive study of England and the British Empire, since they are fast-moving, fact-filled, and easy to read.

Children's Heroes by Various Authors
Title Compact Library size
Story of Robert Bruce   by Lang British Middle Ages, Young Readers 44
Story of Joan of Arc   by Lang Christian Europe, Young Readers 35
Story of Columbus   by Imlach Spanish Empire, Young Readers 34
Story of Francis Drake   by Elton British Middle Ages, Young Readers 37
Story of Raleigh   by Duncan British Middle Ages, Young Readers 36
Story of Lord Clive   by Lang British Empire, Young Readers 32
Story of Captain Cook   by Lang British Empire, Young Readers 34
Story of Napoleon   by Marshall Modern Europe, Young Readers 34
Story of Nelson   by Sellar British Empire, Young Readers 40
Story of Abraham Lincoln   by Hamilton Early America, Young Readers 37
Story of Livingstone   by Golding British Empire 32
Story of H. M. Stanley   by Golding British Empire 32
Story of Lord Roberts   by Sellar British Empire 39
Story of General Gordon   by Lang British Empire 38

Historical Tales

Charles Morris was a prolific American writer of the late 19th century. After a brief career in academics, he began publishing a great number of books and articles under various pseudonyms, but his piece de resistance  was his Historical Tales, a collection of romantic and entertaining stories from history in twelve volumes.

Although most of the stories in these volumes are told in chronological order, they cannot be read as comprehensive histories. Morris makes no attempt to tie them together, contenting himself to jump from one fascinating episode in history to another. For this reason, the Historical Tales are best read after one is already familiar with the basic outline of the history of a particular civilization.

On the other hand, Morris is an outstanding writer, and he picks fascinating subjects for his stories. The stories are selected for their entertainment value rather than purely for historical significance, so Morris treats his readers to fascinating renditions of some compelling "secondary" characters and events. He tells all of his stories in enough depth to make them truly enlivening, even when he is dealing with already well-known events. The Historical Tales  are an entertaining treat, and though they are not recommended for introductory reading, they are terrifically rewarding for intermediate or advanced readers of history.

Historical Tales by Charles Morris
Title Compact Library size
Historical Tales: American I Early America, Mature Readers 136
Historical Tales: American II Early America, Mature Readers 135
Historical Tales: Greek Ancient Greece, Mature Readers141
Historical Tales: Roman Ancient Rome, Mature Readers 131
Historical Tales: Latin American Spanish Empire, Mature Readers 130
Historical Tales: English British Middle Ages, Mature Readers 142
Historical Tales: German Christian Europe, Mature Readers 134
Historical Tales: French Christian Europe, Mature Readers 136
Historical Tales: Spanish Spanish Empire, Mature Readers129
Historical Tales: Russian Mature Readers 136
Historical Tales: Scandinavian Mature Readers 144
Historical Tales: Japanese and Chinese Mature Readers143

Pioneers and Patriots

"I want to thank you and your brother for Abbott’s series of Histories. I have not education enough to appreciate the profound works of voluminous historians, and if I had, I have no time to read them. But your series of Histories gives me, in brief compass, just that knowledge of past men and events which I need. I have read them with the greatest interest. To them I am indebted for about all the historical knowledge I have."
—Abraham Lincoln

As the quote from above shows, even Abraham Lincoln was a fan of the Abbott histories. Their famous series was so well known and widely read that they were staples of virtually every American library from the time they were published in the mid-nineteenth century until after the first World War. Both informative and terrifically entertaining, the Abbott brothers had an enormous talent for writing biographies and selecting those stories and anecdotal episodes from history that are of most interest to the general reader.

John and Jacob Abbott are most famous for their Makers of History series, which focused primarily on Ancient, English, and European History. Following that series, John S. C. Abbott, the younger of the two brothers, completed another biographical series that featured famous American explorers and patriots.

The Abbotts had a terrific gift for narrative, and their books all read as if they were high-suspense novels. Although the vocabulary level is relatively high, more appropriate for high school or college than elementary schools, the writing style is not difficult, and the stories move along at a fast pace. The Abbott biographies have a delightful combination of action and adventure, along with truly interesting personality portraits, intriguing subplots, and fascinating secondary characters which should be appealing to both young men and young women.

Pioneers and Patriots of America by John S. C. Abbott
Title Compact Library size
Miles Standish Early America 127
Kit Carson Early America 116
Chevalier de La Salle Early America 81
King Philip Early America 118
Hernando Cortez    
John Paul Jones    
David Crockett    
Benjamin Franklin    
Danielle Boone    
Ferdinand de Soto    
Peter Stuyvesant    

The size listed indicates the number of 8½ by 11 sheets of paper required to print the entire book, single-sided. This number is about half the number of pages in the original book, since approximately two "pages" of text are reproduced on every sheet.

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