“Neither Unimportant nor Uninstructive”: An Examination of the Socio-Political Context and Content of Rev. Moses Harvey’s 1885 Newfoundland History Textbook for Schools
In 1885, a decade after the creation of the denominational school system in Newfoundland, Rev. Moses Harvey published his Text-book of Newfoundland History: For the use of Schools and Academies. The book was embraced by the denominational superintendents and used in denominational schools. Two factors made Harvey’s book successful: his treatment of churches and positive characterization of the potential of Newfoundlanders and Newfoundland. This article analyses Harvey’s characterization of Newfoundland’s history, his imagining of Newfoundlanders as a people, and the significance of the book’s acceptance within an educational system that has often been depicted as divisive and partly responsible for undermining national development. Harvey’s book had significant appeal because of its heroic colonial narrative and because it cast churches as partners in nation building, giving rich insight into the texture of an emerging settler nationalism in nineteenth century Newfoundland and its place within Newfoundland's denominational school system.