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Students in one-room schools learned arithmetic facts and problems by drill and memorization. They also had to do arithmetic problems in their heads. See if you can do this problem in your head:

Take 2, add 2 and then add six. Add 98, subtract 8 and divide by 10. Now add 10 and how many do you have?

Here are some story problems from The Complete Arithmetic, published in 1876. How many of these can you solve?

1. A farmer has 50 acres planted in wheat, 75 in corn, 20 in barley, 14 in rye, 35 in oats, 16 in potatoes and 7 in "garden truck." How many acres in all has he planted?

2. Susan has 9 cents and Mary has 6. How many more has Susan than Mary? How many less has Mary than Susan? 9 less 6 are how many? 9 less 5? 9 less 4? 9 less 2? 9 less 1? 9 less 9?

3. What is the cost of 986 pounds of sugar at 9 cents a pound?

4. How many pencils at 6 cents each can be bought for 48 cents? For 54 cents?

5. A lady gave 16 apples to some boys, giving 4 apples to each boy. How many boys were there?


1. 217 acres

2. 3 cents, 3 cents, 3 cents, 4 cents, 5 cents, 7 cents, 8 cents, zero cents

3. $88.74

4. 8 pencils, 9 pencils

5. 4 boys

Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum
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210 Parkside Drive
West Branch, IA 52358