Standing within "The Temple of Time"

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Invented by Emma Willard (1787-1870). Published in 1846 by A.S. Barnes & Co., 51 John Street, New York. At the chart’s lower right, the famed educator of American women states its raison d’être:

“Those laws of mind by which not only the memory is assisted, but the intellect formed, have been regarded in this invention. The attempt to understand chronology by merely committing dates to memory, is not only painful, but it is as useless as to learn latitudes and longitudes without the study of maps. As in geography, the relation of any place to all other places is what is important to know; so in chronology, the relation which any given event bears to others constitutes the only useful knowledge. Whosever wishes, can here locate himself in any point of time, and see what characters are cotemporary [sic], what before, and what to follow. This saves great labor of thought, and may suggest new ideas, even to the learned.

By putting the course of time into perspective, the disconnected parts of a vast subject are united in one, and comprehended at a glance; — the poetic idea of “the vista of departed years”[*] is made an object of sight; and when the eye is the medium, the picture will by frequent inspection, be formed within, and forever remain, wrought into the living texture of the mind. If this be done by a design whose beauty and grandeur naturally attract attention, then the teacher or parent who shall place it before his pupils and children, will find that they will insensibly become possessed of an inner “Temple” in which they may, through life, deposit, in the proper order of time, the facts of history as they shall acquire them. This, we repeat, is as important to the student of time as maps are to the student of place. Nations are here exhibited both ethnographically and chronographically. With any of the most celebrated characters of the world, we may in idea stand within the “Temple,” and look back to the past, and forward to the future.”

  • “the vista of departed years” - A line from the poem “The Flight of Time” by John Lowe, published in Edinburgh in 1845.

Front cover: Willard’s Map of Time: A Companion to the Historic Guide. By Emma Willard. New-York, [1846]. Call number: (Ex) Item 5146637q

For more particulars on the Library’s significant holdings relating to the history of charts and tables of chronology as well as timelines, see the relevant entry in the Guide to Selected Special Collections.

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