Date of Award

Summer 8-15-2015

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Liam Riordan

Second Committee Member

Jacques Ferland

Third Committee Member

Richard Judd


Jonathan Fisher was a remarkably gifted man with a passionate interest in the education of the future generations of Maine citizens. No historian, however, has yet to examine Jonathan Fisher’s connection to American educational trends. Primary and secondary schools had existed in colonial America since the 1630s. Fisher witnessed and participated in the transformation of American schooling through his involvement in the local schools, libraries and education within his home, his establishment and maintenance of the Blue Hill Academy and the Bangor Theological Seminary and the publication of his juvenile works The Youth’s Primer and Scripture Animals.

The first chapter of the thesis will first begin by examining the works of those who have already studied the life and accomplishments of the Reverend Jonathan Fisher. There will be a particular focus on the works of Mary Ellen Chase and Kevin D. Murphy. The chapter will then study the manuscripts of Bernard Bailyn, Lawrence Cremin, and James Axtell who were concerned with the educational development of colonial and federal America. The chapter will end with an analysis of the works of Donald M. Scott and Stephen A. Marini who investigated the role of the New England minister in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries.

The second chapter will analyze Fisher’s primary educational contributions. The chapter begins with an examination of primary education during the period and proceeds with an evaluation of Fisher’s role as a teacher and supporter of education. This chapter relies mostly on Fisher’s journals as a primary source.

The third chapter evaluates Fisher’s influence upon secondary education, particularly the Blue Hill Academy and the Bangor Theological Seminary. The prevalent primary sources include Fisher’s journal and student workbooks and the secondary source The Academies of Blue Hill Maine.

The thesis concludes with an examination of Fisher’s educational works The Youth’s Primer and Scripture Animals. The chapter begins with a short history of primers and closes with an analysis of The Youth’s Primer and Scripture Animals.

Jonathan Fisher was a Congregational minister on the Maine frontier; however he also desired to incorporate Blue Hill into the greater American intellectual culture. This thesis utilizes Fisher’s journals and other reliable primary and secondary sources in order to secure his place as an essential component to the development of education in the greater Penobscot area.