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The beginnings of an organized movement are usually dated from 1780 when,* a Gloucester journalist, established a small school to care for local slum children who were neglected and illiterate. He wrote an article about his work which caught people's imagination and encouraged the setting up of Sunday schools throughout England. The first schools taught reading and writing as well as Scripture. The movement spread to the Continent and to America, where the First Day Society was established in Philadelphia in 1790. Raikes saw the culmination of his efforts when the Sunday School Union was founded in 1803 and received great support in evangelical circles. When general education became widespread in the nineteenth century, the Sunday schools concentrated increasingly on religious education. Most of the classes in Britain and the USA have been conducted by voluntary teachers with no special training for this type of work.
See also Education, Christian.