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Our History | Zaner-Bloser


125 years of education

Penmanship & Partnership

In 1888, Charles Paxton Zaner founded the Zanerian College of Penmanship in Columbus, Ohio. The school's curriculum included courses that prepared students for careers as penmen, who, at that time, wrote by hand most of the documents used by business and industry. The school also trained students to become teachers of penmanship, illustrators, engravers, and engrossers-specialists in the kind of ornamental writing used for diplomas and certificates.

In 1891, Zaner sold a share of the Zanerian to Elmer Ward Bloser, whom he met in 1883 while the two men were students at Michael's Pen Art Hall. Bloser, who had been working as an instructor at the Spencerian Business College in Cleveland, was a superb penman, and he had accumulated the capital necessary to sustain the college in its early days (when its three instructors had only three pupils).


At that time, most schools of penmanship only attempted to train penmen in the lucrative art of ornamental writing. Zaner and Bloser emphasized the importance of a good general education as well; so much so that the Zanerian was described by one student as "the only University of Penmanship and Drawing in the world." The school's curriculum included psychology, physiology, and English composition, and students who wished to become teachers of penmanship were also expected to study the theory of teaching and to write a 10,000-word thesis.

By 1895, the Zanerian College of Penmanship had become the Zaner-Bloser Company, an institution that offered courses in penmanship, published professional materials about handwriting and illustration, and sold handwriting supplies.

In 1904, Zaner-Bloser published The Zaner Method of Arm Movement, a landmark text that taught the simplified style of writing learned by students at the Zanerian to children in elementary schools all over the United States. This book also applied the findings of psychologists who had discovered that young children completed manual tasks more easily if allowed to use the large arm movements that were natural to them at their early stage of motor skills development.

Zaner-Bloser Today

Zaner-Bloser became part of Highlights family of companies in 1972. Publisher of popular children’s magazines, Highlights for Children is dedicated to the belief that children are the world’s most important people. The association of these two fine companies has been mutually beneficial.

Zaner-Bloser is an educational curricula and digital resources provider in language arts/literacy (writing, word study, reading, etc.) and 21st century learning. Our flexible, customizable solutions support educators in their mission to help students learn. We provide dynamic, appealing, and effective educational programs and services to inspire all students to become lifelong learners and partner with educators to improve results in the classroom. With an ever-growing number of digital technologies and evolving research shaping the education landscape, Zaner-Bloser is committed to meeting schools’ needs today—and in the future.


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