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The McGuffey Readers were authored by William Holmes McGuffey (1800-1873), then president of Ohio University (Athens, Ohio). The series of books was commissioned by the Cincinnati-based publishing company of Truman and Smith. The Readers first appeared in 1836 and eventually consisted of six volumes, each of which addressed specific topics or concepts. The Second Reader had history, zoology, and botany, along with a number of moral lessons. The units introduced new words using the then-revolutionary system of phonics. The McGuffey Readers were widely used and were one of the most-published works of the 19th century. They were also regularly revised - this story comes from their 1901 edition - and used throughout the United States until their publication was ended in 1920.