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Cal--
An important aspect of the teaching of reading in the 19th century was the
teaching of reading out loud.  Any 19th-century reading text will easily
convince you of this.  A concommitant of that and the widespread illiteracy,
or rare knowledge of "classical, edifying" works was some sort of result
that reading aloud to an audience was an important activity.
 
I would assume, therefore, that getting the 19th-century morgues of a  paper
in a place like Pinckneytown would show you how these halls were used.  You
might find Chatauquas and other things going on.
 
Good luck in unearthing that strange time, the 19th century.
 
Ed Haupt