Literacy gradually became a component of normalcy and competency beginning in the mid-19th century with the system of government-supported public schools.
Reading and writing were not common skills for several reasons. A person may have left school before learning to read, may have used a language other than English, or have had other differences that made their writing and reading atypical. In an agrarian economy, success did not always depend upon literacy. In addition, the many differences related to how people process information have continually influenced who identifies with or is categorized as having a disability. This hand-written receipt from tobacco farmer Frank Peacock indicates he was paid $80.00 for his crop. He could not read or write so he signed his name with an “X”.
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