Joseph Ray (1807-1855) pursued an extensive early education in two states, attending country schools and West Liberty Academy in Virginia, Franklin College in Ohio, and studying medicine with Dr. Joel F. Martin in Ohio. He earned his M.D. from the Medical College of Ohio in Cincinnati in 1831. Though starting a medical practice, Ray transitioned to a career in education at Woodward College in Cincinnati. As a professor and later president, he pioneered innovative arithmetic textbooks in 1834 that revolutionized American math instruction. Ray's textbooks emphasized practical real-world applications and sold over 120 million copies through 1913, becoming the most widely used math texts. He contributed extensively to teacher training and math education journals. Ray achieved numerous reforms as president of the Ohio State Teachers Association, pioneer of the first Western U.S. teachers organization, and through state examiner and curriculum development roles. He authored over 50 textbook titles and achieved broad influence before his early death at age 48.
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Photo Credits: Mathematical Association of America, West Virginia Archives and History