A society for the benefit of the common man founded in the small town of Edam, Holland, in 1784 with the purpose of spreading enlightened ideas among the lower classes of Dutch society. Raising the standard of ed ucation by increasing literacy was its first aim. Morality was to be enforced by virtuousness. “Departments” were founded everywhere in the Republic, financially supported by enthusiastic citizens. Lec tures were organized; libraries with inexpensive, edifying, and use ful reading materials were founded; series of small civilizing books were published; and many writing competitions were held, of which the prize-winning contributions were published. The society was ac tive well into the 20th century as an institution for the reform and im provement of education and the morality of the lower classes, in cluding campaigns for temperance and savings banks.

Historical Dictionary of the Netherlands. . 2012.

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