James Baldwin

James Baldwin (December 15th 1841 Westfield Hamilton County - September 1st 1925 South Orange, New Jersey) is locally known best as the author of the semi-autobiographically "In My Youth". He is probably one of the most famous citizens of Hamilton County, especially during the time he was alive as he was a very prolific author especially of books used by the millions in school systems all around the USA. He was also a school superintendent in Noblesville and Huntington, IN before he went east to be in the Publishing business at the Harper Publishing company and American Book Publishing company.

It is sometimes a bit hard to find his contributions online, since the way more famous Author James Baldwin (August 2, 1924, Harlem, New York, NY - December 1, 1987, Saint Paul de Vence, France) has of course a much larger footprint. But by searching for "James Baldwin 1841-1925) some successful searches can be made!

BELOW: Pictures from our collection and elsewhere - click on the picture to view more information about it in our Museum Software Online Website

James Baldwin in Civil War Union Uniform

James Baldwin Portrait Picture

Isaac and Sarah (Clayton) Baldwin - James Baldwin's parents

Isaac Baldwin - James Baldwin's Father

James Baldwin Portrait Picture from below Encyclopedia

Biography of James Baldwin

From: The National Cyclopædia of American Biography: Being the History of the United States as Illustrated in the Lives of the Founders, Builders, and Defenders of the Republic, and of the Men and Women who are Doing the Work and Moulding the Thought of the Present Time, Edited by Distinguished Biographers, Selected from Each State, Revised and Approved by the Most Eminent Historians, Scholars, and Statesmen of the Day, Volume 14 - J. T. White Company, 1910 - United States 

BALDWIN, James, author and educator, was born in Hamilton county, Ind., Dec. 15, 1841, son of Isaac and Sarah ( Clayton ) Baldwin, and a descendant of John Baldwin, who died near Deep River, N. C., in 1751. A family tradition relates that the father of this John Baldwin was one of the early colonists of Virginia and the disinherited son of an English nobleman. William Bald- win, the son of John, was born at Deep River in 1720, and became a local minister of considerable note in the Society of Friends. He was the father of twelve sons and the great - great - grandfather of the subject of this sketch. 

Isaac Baldwin, the father of James, was one of the early pioneer settlers of Indiana, going to Wayne county with his parents in 1819, and after- wards establishing a home in Hamilton county, then an unbroken wilderness. Sixty years ago there was no good system of public schools in Indiana, and James was educated chiefly at home and in a small school maintained by the Society of Friends. From earliest childhood he was a devoted lover of books, and all the time that could be spared from work was devoted to study rather than to play. Although having no definite instruction in composition, his first and chief ambition was to become a writer of useful books, and at the age of eleven his first story, "The Two Soldiers", was published in "Forrester's Boys and Girls Magazine," New York. He taught in the district schools of his own neighborhood for four years ( 1865-69 ), and then organized the public schools at Noblesville, Ind., establishing there one of the first graded school systems in the state. 

In 1873 he organized a similar system on a larger scale at Huntington, Ind., and was superintendent of schools in that growing city for ten years. In connection with these schools he established a library of several hundred volumes for the use of his pupils. This at first was considered an innovation and some doubted its advantages. The library, however, soon became a model for many others in that state and elsewhere. In the meanwhile, Mr. Baldwin did not forget his early literary aspirations, and in 1882 his "English Literature" was published, embodying his methods of teaching literature and containing illustrative criticism from many sources. Like most first works of its kind it was not free from blunders, and it never reached a second edition; but it won recognition for its author, and the faculty of De Pauw University conferred upon him the honorary degree of Ph.D. 

He was soon afterward offered a responsible position in the educational department of Harper & Brothers, New York city, and his first work was to prepare for that publishing house a series of school readers. He then became an assistant editor of Harper's periodicals, serving in that capacity until 1894, when he became identified with the editorial department of the American Book Company. 

Dr. Baldwin has written, edited, or otherwise assisted in the production of perhaps half of the school readers now used in the United States, and he has won recognition as a leading authority on the subject of children's books and reading. Besides compiling several series of standard readers, he is the author of over fifty volumes on a variety of subjects, ranging from a " Fairy Reader " for youngest pupils to a " Life of Abraham Lincoln " and a manual of " Systematic Readings in the Encyclopædia Britannica ". His "Story of Siegfried" ( 1882 ) and " Story of Roland " ( 1883 ) are recognized classics, and his " Book Lover " ( 1884 ) has passed through many editions and enjoys a large sale abroad. The sales of his various books have for several years exceeded 1,000,000 copies annually. The general aim of his writings has been to form good literary tastes. Said the Newark "News" "An instinct, apparently unerring, for what will interest, and sound judgment as to the information needed by children of different ages, combined to make his productions entertaining and of solid worth. In his long list there seems to be no volume which has failed to find its niche proof that the author divines desires on the part of readers, and satisfies those desires to a marked degree. " Mr. Baldwin has also been an occasional contributor to educational periodicals and the leading magazines.