A Brief Look at Hornbooks
An interesting question came up in the reference office the other day–why are hornbooks called hornbooks?
It turns out that a hornbook was originally a primer of sorts. It was usually a single sheet of paper attached to a handle that looked like a paddle. To protect the paper a thin sheet of cow’s horn was stretched over the paddle. This is much simpler than our hornbooks in the library, but old hornbooks were meant to give children a start in spelling and reading, and legal hornbooks are meant to give students a start in a particular area of law.