Monday, September 7, 2015

Lettering: Austin N. Palmer, Master Penman

December 22, 1859, Fort Jackson, New York – November 16, 1927, New York, New York

1860 United States Federal Census
Hopkinton, New York
Name / Age
Norman C Palmer 33
Clarinda Palmer 26
Ida M Palmer 4
Annett A Palmer 2
Austin N Palmer 5 months
Polly Woodard 65

1870 United States Federal Census
Stockholm, New York
Name / Age
Norman Palmer 43
Clarinda Palmer 36
Ida N Palmer 13
Ann E Palmer 12
Austin N Palmer 10
Ellen F Palmer 3
Norris Palmer 1
Polly Woodard 75

1880 United States Federal Census
Washington Street, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Name / Age
Austin Palmer 19 [Clerk]

Iowa Marriage
Name: Austin N. Palmer
Date: January 1, 1884
Place: Cedar Rapids Iowa
Father: Norman C. Palmer
Mother: Clarinda Woodward
Spouse: Sarah P. Whitney

Biographies and Portraits of the Progressive Men of Iowa, Volume 2
Benjamin F. Gue, Benjamin Franklin Shambaugh
Conaway & Shaw, 1899
Palmer, Austin Norman, of Cedar Rapids, is president of the Cedar Rapids Business College, president of the Western Penman Publishing Company and president of the Commercial Club and is credited with being the moving spirit in its organization. The club is composed of two hundred of the leading business and professional men and is, as its name indicates, devoted to the commercial interests of that city. Mr. Palmer’s father, Norman C. Palmer, was a farmer and a resident of St. Lawrence County, New York. He married Clarinda Woodward, and enlisted and served in the war of the rebellion. Young Palmer received his early education in the country schools of his native county and the public schools of Manchester, New Hampshire. Later he attended the Literary Institute, New Hampton, N.H., and the Bryant and Stratton Business College of Manchester; but a large part of his education has come from the great school of experience.

In 1877 he came west and taught classes in writing in Rockville, Indiana, and St. Joseph, Missouri. When he first went to Cedar Rapids he worked for one year as contract writer for the Iowa Railroad Land Company, and one year at bookkeeping for the Cedar Rapids Insurance Company. He taught penmanship, commercial law, and bookkeeping one year in the Cedar Rapids Business College; one year divided between Cedar Rapids public schools and business college as instructor in penmanship, half days in each. This was the fall, winter and spring of 1883 and 1884. In April, 1884, he started the Western Penman as a bimonthly, eight page paper. In May, 1884, he resigned positions with business college and public schools to enter into a co-partnership with B. M. Worthington of Chicago under the firm name of Worthington & Palmer.

Worthington & Palmer conducted the Lake Side Business College, and published the Western Penman, which was made a monthly of sixteen pages. In two years the firm was dissolved, Mr. Palmer retaining the Western Penman and Mr. Worthington the Lake Side Business College. About this time Mr. Palmer was offered a partnership by S. H. Goodyear, owner of the Cedar Rapids Business College and publisher of commercial text-books; business practice and supplies. The offer was finally accepted. The partnership was continued until February, 1890, each branch of the business showing each year a splendid growth. When this partnership was dissolved Mr. Palmer retained the Cedar Rapids Business College, the Western Penman and Palmer's Guide to Muscular Movement Writing, and Mr. Goodyear accepted as his portion the bookkeeping, texts and other commercial publications.

The Cedar Rapids Business College was pushed with renewed vigor, new rooms were added, new furniture purchased, new teachers hired, and the attendance more than doubled within a short time, and while this was being done, the Western Penman was not slighted, but through its advocacy of muscular movement and better methods of teaching writing, became the leading penmanship publication of America, while other penmanship works published by Mr. Palmer were largely sold.

The Western Penman has now a monthly circulation of twenty thousand copies, and is a forty page journal. It is considered by the leading teachers of penmanship a power for good in the cause of practical writing. It is used as a textbook in hundreds of schools, and from twelve to fifteen thousand subscriptions to it are annually received in clubs from teachers who recommend it to their pupils. Other penmanship publications having a wide sale are Palmer’s Guide to Business Writing, and Palmer’s Penmanship Budget.

in 1891, Mr. Palmer purchased a business school in St. Joseph, Missouri, and a little later another in Creston, Iowa. The Western Business College Company was formed, incorporated and the three schools became its property. Mr. Palmer owned the majority of the stock and managed the business. He built up a fine school in St. Joseph, but found his work too heavy for one man, and in 1893 sold the St. Joseph school; later the Creston school was sold, and Mr. Palmer is now devoting his entire energies to the Cedar Rapids Business College and his penmanship publications, and every waking moment is a busy one. Through the suggestion of Mr. Palmer, the Western Penman’s Association was organized in Des Moines, Christmas holidays, 1886, and he has occupied every office within its gift. Meetings of this association have been held in Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Peoria, Louisville, Columbus, Indianapolis, Lincoln and for the last three years in Chicago. The name of the organization has been changed to Federation of Teachers’ Associations, embracing four distinct organizations, and being the strongest organization of commercial teachers in America. Mr. Palmer was secretary of the Federation and in 1898-9 was elected president.

Professor Palmer does not have much time to devote to politics but in National elections votes the republican ticket. In local affairs he is independent. January 1, 1884 he was married to Sadie P. Whiting, who has a clear bead for business and has frequently devoted her entire time to assisting the Professor in his duties. They have no children and are members of the Episcopal church.

1900 United States Federal Census
700 Seventh Avenue, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Name / Age
Austin N Palmer 39 [Commercial College Proprietor]
Sadie W Palmer 56
Opal F Rew 24

Containing Photographs and Sketches of a Few Commercial Teachers
L.E. Stacy
Mr. A. N. Palmer was born at Fort Jackson, St. Lawrence County, New York. As Mr. Palmer will not tell the exact date of his birth, we are unable to give accurate information. He lived on a farm during his youth, and when he was about thirteen, the family moved to Manchester, New Hampshire, where he attended public schools and later took bookkeeping and penmanship at Gaskell’s Business College. Here he came under the instruction of G. A. Gaskell and Charles T. Cragin, and became acquainted with W. E. Dennis. He took the bookkeeping course, but paid more attention to penmanship.

He then started out to organize classes in penmanship, took literary work at the New Hampton Institute, and finally went west, teaching classes at Rockville, Indiana, and St. Joseph, Missouri. He then went to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to work for the Iowa Railroad Land Company. At this time he evolved the “muscular movement” idea, and has been preaching it ever since. He later worked for an insurance company, and resigned a position paying $75.00 a month, to work for the Cedar Rapids Business College at $50 a month. He then became a partner in a business college in Chicago, Illinois, but after two years returned to Cedar Rapids, to take an interest in the Cedar Rapids School. He had already started the Western Penman, and when the Goodyear and Palmer partnership was dissolved, Mr. Palmer took the business college and the Penman. Mr. Palmer now devotes his entire time to looking after his publications, and has built up an extensive business.

1910 United States Federal Census
202 West 103 Street, Manhattan, New York, New York
Name / Age
Austin N Palmer 50 [Publisher]

The Daily Gate City
(Keokuk, Iowa)
March 9, 1916

(Keokuk, Iowa)
June 16, 1917
A. N. Palmer awards a certificate in penmanship to Joseph Code, Anna Josephine McAndrew, Hortense Moore, Edna Schaaf, Florence Belt, Ellen Hayes, Mary Roan.

Primary Education
September 1918
A. N. Palmer

1920 United States Federal Census
53 Winfield Avenue, Mount Vernon, New York
Name / Age
Austin N Palmer 60 [President, Publishing Company]
Frances Palmer 50

Passport Application
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
May 21, 1924

New York Passenger List
Austin and Sadie Palmer aboard the S. S. Berengaria
Departure: Cherbourg, France, October 4, 1924
Arrival: New York, New York, October 10, 1924
Address: A. N. Palmer Company, 55 Fifth Avenue, New York City

1925 Iowa State Census
845 First Avenue, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Name / Age
Austin N Palmer 60
Sadie Palmer 57
Luella Reinking 27
Elizath Grimm 34

The Daily Argus
(Mount Vernon, New York)
November 17, 1927
Resided Here for Five Years
Death in New York Yesterday of A. N. Palmer, Penmanship Expert
Lived in Winfield Ave.
Originator of Method of Writing—Rev. M. L. Brown Conducts Funeral Service

Austin Norman Palmer, originator of the Palmer method of writing and a former resident of Winfield avenue, Mount Vernon, died yesterday at his home, 666 West End avenue, New York city, after a brief illness. Mr. Palmer was president of the A. N. Palmer Publishing company, 55 Fifth avenue, editor of The American Penman magazine and president of Cedar Rapid Business college. He is survived by his widow, Mrs. Sadie Palmer, and a sister, Mrs. Ida Palmer Balheim of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He came to this city to reside in 1915 and remained for a period of about five years, during which he attended the Church of the Ascension. Mrs. Palmer, when a resident of Mount Vernon, was active in affairs of the Westchester Woman’s Club.

The penmanship expert was born in St. Lawrence county, N. Y., and later went to live in Iowa, where he began publication of The Western Penman in 1884. His first penmanship lessons appeared in that publication. His methods attracted attention and he was asked to publish a writing book. In 1900 the first edition of his “Palmer Method of Business Writing” was issued.

Receives Medal.

Four years later the work received the gold medal at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition at St. Louis. The Palmer exhibit there was seen by a New York public school officials who introduced it in the city’s school. It is estimated that 25.000.000 persons in this country alone have received Palmer lessons in penmanship.

Mr. Palmer maintained offices here, in Chicago, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Portland, Ore., with staffs of itinerant teachers. He was a member of the Rotary, National Arts and New York Press clubs and other organizations.

The funeral services were held at noon today at Campbell’s funeral chapel, Broadway and Sixty-sixth street, and later at Grace church. Cedar Rapids. The New York services will be conducted by Dr. Melford L. Brown, of the Church of the Ascension, this city.

Find a Grave

Iowa Pride
Duane A. Schmidt
Xulon Press, 2002

(Next post of Monday: Ah! Big Little Book)

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