MECHANICS' INSTITUTES. The es tablishment of mechanics' institutes marks the struggle of the artisan to provide for his own education. Denied a technical education, un able to take advantage of college and univer sity education because of financial and economic stress, the artisan nevertheless demands for himself such educational opportunities as he can use during his free hours. His needs are pe culiar. His range of interests is prescribed by his trade or vocation, his time is limited, his preparation is likewise limited and variable His demands cannot be satisfied, therefore, by conventional methods and equipments. A special organization must be set up. Mechanics' institutes are a distinctive product of England, no other country having developed an equal number of such organizations. Nor are such institutions characteristic of any other national educational scheme. The reason for this is the conservatism of English universities and higher educational institutions generally. The artisan was not provided with a systematic training beyond the fundamentals of his trade as given by a more or less definite apprentice system Industrial education and manual training were not made a part of public education until late in the 19th century. Hence the necessity for the artisan to devise a scheme for educational extension into his adult years, an education that would meet his specific needs. Birming ham and Glasgow were the pioneers in de veloping educational opportunities for me chanics. In Birmingham Sunday lectures in mechanics and in the physical sciences were given as early as 1789. An Library' was maintained. Glasgow organized its Me chanics' Institute in 1823. This is probably the first use of the term. The London Mechanics' Institution was founded in the same year and was under the leadership of Dr. Birkbeck, who had been instrumental in the maintenance of the work in Birmingham. Liverpool followed with its Mechanics' and Apprentices' Library in 1825. Other cities followed and in 1839 a Met ropolitan Association of Mechanic's Institu tions were formed; in 1848 a similar associa tion known as the Yorkshire Union was formed with 86 institutions as members.
The range of work became wider as the movement grew. The Manchester Mechanics' Institute announced its purpose to be °to enable artisans of whatever trade to become ac quainted with such branches of science and art as are of practical application in their trade' The subjects offered either by lecture or class instruction were as follows: natural philoso phy, science, natural history, literature, writing. grammar, composition, algebra, geometry, drawing, music, French, German, Latin. This is indicative of the scope of the work at tempted.
The aim of the mechanics' institutes was to bring education within reach of the middle and lower classes in England. The programs show that it was an effort to give as much of the traditional content of education as these classes could assimilate. It was education given to mechanics, but much of it was not about me chanics nor yet about industry or closely re lated matters. Herein lies the explanation for the decline of the movement. The institutes failed to hold their clientele as the artisans lacked the necessary educational background. But out of and on these foundations have grown the highly efficient technical schools which are in successful operation to-day.
Mechanics' institutes were also established in the United States, notably in Boston, Phila delphia, New York and Rochester, N. Y. A few are still in successful operation. It is notable that they are an important part in the development of vocational and industrial education (q.v.) in the United States. With free public schools, especially free State col leges and State universities, giving extensive courses in the mechanic arts and in the sci ences, there is less demand for these private institutions with their special appeal to the mechanics' interests. Their function has been that of the pioneer. They have blazed the way for engineering and technical schools and are now doing the same for vocational and trade schools. See EDUCATION, INDUSTRIAL; EDUCA TION, TECHNICAL; MANUAL TRAINING; COOPER LINTON ; VOCATIONAL EDUCATION.