1620

Mayflower

Mayflower and Plymouth Colony

Arriving 200 miles north of their intended destination, in December, half of the pilgrims arriving in Plymouth die over the next four months. The focus on survival and religious faith does not allow for education beyond that of religious and family study.

1630

Puritans

Massachusetts Bay Colony and Puritans

A fleet of eleven vessels with 1000 settlers arrives in June and July in Salem. They eventually form the Town of Boston, with the goal of creating a society which will be a model for redeeming their English homeland.

1635

First Public School

Boston establishes a Latin School to provide a classical education, similar to the free grammar schools in Boston, England. The school's motto "Sumus Primi" translated is "We are first." For the first decade, the Latin School met in the home of its headmaster.

1636

Harvard seal

First College in America

The Massachusetts legislature establishes, funds and names the school's leadership in 1636. It renames it "Harvard" after the young clergyman John Harvard who bequeathed the school half his estate and all his books.

1642

First compulsory education law

Parents or the masters of children are required to provide them with a basic education -- including instruction in reading, writing and the colony's capitol laws. If not provided, the state claims authority to take custody of them so they may be instructed.

1647

First American Law Requiring Schools

Towns are required to hire one reading and writing teacher for each 50 families, and towns over 100 families are required to form a Latin grammar school capable of preparing children to be admitted to Harvard College.

1647

Dame school

Dame Schools

An early combination of day care and schooling, dame schools are held by homemakers who informally instruct students for pay. Over the next century dame schools will show that women can be effective teachers, while raising the base level of education, especially for girls.