Samuel Read Hall, American educator and clergyman, was born in Croydon, NH on October 27, 1795. He was the youngest of eleven children. When he was less than a year old, his family moved to the then wilderness of Guildhall, Vermont. He was educated at home and never attended college. In 1818 he studied for the ministry in Meriden, NH. After teaching in Rumford, Maine, and Fitchburg, Mass., he was licensed to preach in 1823. His first church was in Concord, VT.
Concord was a frontier settlement in 1823 with a population of about 800. As neither church nor the nine school districts were flourishing…. Hall accepted the position on the condition that he be allowed to open a school to teach the teachers. His annual salary was $300. He was ordained and within the week he had established Concord Academy, the first training school for teachers to be recognized in the United States.
Hall’s Lectures on School Keeping, published in 1829, was the first American instructional book for teachers and was so influential it went through ten printings. He wrote several textbooks for both teachers and children. He taught geography by focusing on the child’s interest and perspective, and then extending it to a larger scope.
He also helped to organize (1830) the American Institute of Instruction, the oldest educational association in the United States. Hall became principal of the new teachers’ seminary at Phillips Academy (1830-37) in Andover Mass., of Holmes-Plymouth Academy (1837-40) in Plymouth NH, and of Craftsbury Academy, Craftsbury VT to which he added a teachers’ training department (1840-46).
For his services to the educational world, Dartmouth conferred upon him an honorary degree of Master of Arts. in 1839, and the University of Vermont in 1865 the honorary degree of LL.D., Doctorate of Law.
He also served as pastor in Craftsbury from 1840-1854. He moved to Brownington in 1856. From 1854 to 1867 he served as pastor in Brownington VT and from 1872-1874 as pastor in Granby, VT. He died in Brownington on June 24, 1877.
When he came to Orleans County, he was already a leading citizen of the area. He had influenced education in the United States for generations by establishing the first school for educating teachers, writing the first American book on how to teach, organizing some of the earliest education associations and introducing new methods of teaching history and geography. He was probably the first teacher to require student compositions, and perhaps the earliest to use blackboards in the classroom.
His famous Lectures on School-Keeping (1829) was republished in 1929, with a biography of Hall and a bibliography of his works by A. D. Wright and G. E. Gardner.
He was also ahead of his time in his recommendation that geography and history begin by having students study their immediate surroundings and expand outward from town to state to nation and world. In his Lectures, Hall emphasized the “practical method” of teaching history. He suggested that the teachers first familiarize themselves with the history of the town. The next step was to introduce youngsters to as many locally significant places or objects as possible.
This had the advantage, he observed, of improving student health by walking in the fresh air. It led to a “happy state of mind,” enhanced their curiosity and made them more receptive to instruction. Hall explained that
“the interesting details of humble adventure, the narrative of domestic life, the tale of the early settlers,– all of which have a poetic charm for the young,– will suit the same purpose, will enkindle curiosity, secure attention, and convert the study of history from a task or a book-dream, into a pleasing reality.” Hall, Samuel Read, Lectures on School Keeping, 1829 
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