Form of adult education popular in the U.S. during the mid-19th century. The lyceums were voluntary local associations that sponsored lectures and debates on topics of current interest. The first was founded in 1826, and by 1834 there were approximately 3,000 in the Northeast and Midwest. They attracted such speakers as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederick Douglass, Henry David Thoreau, Daniel Webster, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Susan B. Anthony. The movement began to decline with the outbreak of the Civil War and eventually blended into the postbellum Chautauqua movement. In their heyday the lyceums contributed to the broadening of the school curricula and the development of local museums and libraries.
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