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The Word from a Walrus: Five Decades of the History of Education Society

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 February 2017

Wayne J. Urban*
Affiliation:
Education Policy Center at the University of Alabama

Extract

This essay is an attempt at an institutional history of the History of Education Society (HES), from its inception in 1960 to the present day. As an institutional history, a genre with which I am generally, and not altogether favorably associated, it is not an intellectual history. Thus, many of the intellectual currents and cross-currents, as well as the History of Education Quarterly (HEQ), the journal of the HES in which these intellectual movements were featured, are slighted in this presentation. I deal extensively with one intellectual movement within the field, the Bernard Bailyn-Lawrence Cremin critique of the field as too institutional and intellectually narrow, because it was so intimately involved with the creation of the HES, and the attendant de-emphasis, if not rejection, of the institutional history of education that was dominant in the pre-HES history of education organization. I hope that what follows will be interesting enough to my listeners and readers to explain to them the reasons for my choices.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © 2010 History of Education Society 

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References

1 I have taken the notion of words from a walrus from Carl Kaestle's account of Patricia Graham's use of the term in a meeting of educators. Kaestle's essay is entitled, “History of Education: My Entry and My Odyssey.” It will be published in Urban, Wayne J. Leaders in the History of American Education (Rotterdam, the Netherlands: Sense Publishers, forthcoming 2011). In his essay, Kaestle describes a meeting where Graham, Harold Howe, and other very experienced educators discussed the aptness of the term “walrus” to describe themselves. I hereby appropriate the term for myself and hope that neither Pat, nor Carl, mind my using it.

2 I can say without hesitation that no official notice was taken of the twentieth anniversary of HES, in 1980. I am confident of this conclusion because I was president of HES in 1980 and blithely ignorant of the anniversary, and no other member of the Board of Directors raised the issue.

3 Butchart, Ronald E. to Reese, Bill Finkelstein, Barbara, Altenbaugh, Richard, Edson, C. H. 22 November 1999 [my emphasis]; paper copy in HES Records, University of Delaware, Edson, C. H. Secretary-Treasurer files. It turned out that little, if any, mention was made of the fortieth anniversary of HES at the 1990 meeting, which was held in San Antonio.

4 Sol Cohen to Edson, C. H. 22 November 1999, paper copy in Edson files.

5 Finkelstein, Barbara to Butchart, Ronald E. Reese, Bill, Altenbaugh, Richard, and Edson, C. H. (22 November 1999) [my insertion], paper copy in Edson files.

6 Hiner, N. RayHistory of Education for the 1990s and Beyond: The Case for Academic Imperialism,History of Education Quarterly 30 (Summer 1990): 136–60.

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7 Hiner, History of Education,138. NSCTE was made up of historians, philosophers, and sociologists of education, as well as some comparative educationists. It represented mostly the foundations fields and field within the larger American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

8 Butts, R. FreemanVolume One, Number One,History of Education Journal 1 (Autumn 1949): 16. The History of Education Journal was sponsored by the History of Education section of NSCTE.

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9 Hiner, History of Education,139. Hiner was quoting from Cremin, Lawrence A.The Role of the History of Education in the Professional Preparation of Teachers, Part One: The Recent Development of the History of Education as a Field of Study in the United States,“ History of Education Journal 7 (Fall 1955): 1.

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10 Hiner, History of Education,139. The Anderson quote is taken from Anderson, ArchibaldThe Role of the History of Education in the Professional Preparation of Teachers, Part Two: Bases of Proposals Concerning the History of Education,“ History of Education Journal 7 (Winter 1956): 4044, 78–79.

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11 Bailyn, Bernard Education in the Forming of American Society: Needs and Opportunities for Study (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1960).

12 Hiner, History of Education,140. Hiner cites a letter from Lawrence Cremin to Horlick, Allan dated 15 September 1976 and the Minutes of the Coordinating Committee of the History section of NSCTE, dated 13 February 1959, both of which he found in the History of Education Society Archives housed at the Milbank Library, Teachers College, Columbia University. I made a visit to the TC library and perused the several boxes of papers, which contain the HES archives in the summer of 2009. I did not come across either of these documents, though that does not mean they were not there. I will say more about the HES Archives in a later section of this paper.

13 Constitution of the History of Education Society, Adopted at the Annual Meeting of the Society, 14 February 1960, History of Education Society Archives, Large Box, Folder HES, my emphasis. The collection contains several normal archival boxes, numbered from 1 to 5, and one large carton, or large box.

14 Ibid., my emphasis.

15 Hiner, History of Education,141.

16 Cremin, Lawrence A. The Transformation of the School: Progressivism and American Education, 18711957 (New York: Random House, 1960).

17 Cremin, Lawrence A. The Wonderful World of Ellwood Patterson Cubberley: An Essay on the Historiography of American Education (New York: Bureau of Publications, Teachers College, Columbia University, 1965).

18 Butts, R. Freeman was a professor of Comparative Education and of the History of Education at Teachers College, and a senior colleague of Cremin's. For their combined book, see Freeman Butts, R. and Cremin, Lawrence A. A History of Education in American Culture (New York: Holt, 1953).

19 The leader in the founding of AESA, Laska, John was a professor of Education at the University of Texas who had studied comparative education with Butts at Teachers College.

20 Butts, R. Freeman to Altenbaugh, Richard 11 March 1999, by email, paper copy in HES Papers, Delaware.

21 Herbst, R. Freeman to Jurgen Herbst, 11 December 1978 and Cremin, Lawrence A. to Jurgen Herbst, 23 January 1979 in HES Archives, Teachers College, Large Box, Folder HES Annual Reports, including HEQ.

22 Perkinson, Henry J. to Dear Professor (n.d.), HES Archives, Teachers College, Large Box, Folder (June 1966–August 1966).

23 All four of these affiliations were operative in the 1971–1972 academic year. See Report of Meeting of Board of Directors, 4 February 1971, HES Archives, Large Box, Folder HES.

24 Constitution of the History of Education Society, n.d. November, 1974], HES Archives, Teachers College, Large Box. Canadian historians might be surprised to find out about their early regional affiliation with HES, but the 1980 minutes of the HES Board of Directors report the following: “Professor [Neil] Sutherland reported on the newly formed Canadian History of Education Association…. The Society wished to be affiliated with the History of Education Society in the same manner as the Midwest, the Pacific, and the Southern History of Education Societies.” The HES President [Wayne Urban] “(needing no higher authority) decreed that such an affiliation exists.” HES Archives, TC, Large Box, Folder HES 1980–1981 Portland Minutes.

25 This dispute can be followed in the Board and Meeting Minutes for both the 1977 and 1978 meetings, but I rely here on my own memory of the situation. As Vice President and President Elect of HES for 1978–1979, I was the person who had to plan the meeting, which was held in Silver Springs, Maryland, a border state in the Washington, DC metropolitan area that had ratified the ERA. As a member of SHOES, I was profoundly ambivalent about my HES convention planning duties but chose to carry them out rather than resign. The meeting was a success, and it constituted one practical exception to a constitutional mandate that eventually resulted in a constitutional change. For documentation on the entire matter, see SHOES NEWS, Southern History of Education Society Newsletter, (Winter 1979) in HES Archives, TC, Large Box, Folder HES Annual Reports, including HEQ.

26 I am painfully aware of this because I was one of very few individuals who attended both meetings, which covered two successive weekends in late October and early November of that year.

27 Constitution of the History of Education Society, 19 January 1994, HES Records, Delaware.

28 For the idea of regional rotation, see Edson, C. H. to Butchart, Ronald E. and Board of Directors, 31 May 2001, email, paper copy in HES Records, Delaware, Folder Secretary-Treasurer Correspondence, 1991–2004.

29 If Minneapolis is the West, there is an argument that Pittsburgh was the Midwest. My sense of this is controversy is that it was more over the history versus educational history orientation than it was of regional representation.

30 These conclusions, and the ones that follow, are made from my own perusal of the list and according to what I know, mostly personally, about the individuals who have held the presidency of HES.

31 The last Canadian was elected to the HES presidency in 1983–1984, and two of the three Canadians chosen were scholars with American doctorates who eventually left Canada to work in the United States. The development of the Canadian History of Education Association (CHEA) into a vibrant national organization in recent years has taken away significantly from any notion of CHEA as a regional HES affiliate. The concentration of HES presidents in the South and Midwest reflects both national population concentration and the relative size and strength of universities in those regions, in relation to the others. Chicago, until recently the meeting place of the Midwest History of Education Society, has always attracted a large attendance to HES meetings. Northeastern settings also are attractive, unless the attraction is countered by expense, as is often the case in New York. The South has consistently attracted somewhat less attendance, though not enough to threaten southern locations for the meeting. As mentioned earlier, attendance on the west coast has been poor enough to hamper regular inclusion of Pacific sites in the HES rotation.

32 History of Education Society, Membership List 1966, HES Archives, TC, Large Box, Folder (untitled). The total of regionally identified members is less than the total number of members as I was not able to identify the region of all the members listed.

33 History of Education Society Membership Listing [1977], Newsletter of the History of Education Society 9 (1977), HES Archives, TC, Large Box[?], Folder 1960s/1970s.

34 I will discuss Canadian and international affiliations later in the paper.

35 Membership lists for the 1980s or 1990s were not available to me. HES Secretary-Treasurer Hampel looked at HEQ annual reports and found out that membership in 1981 was 441, rising to a peak of 580 in 1992, and dropping to 493 in 1994. Membership for the rest of the 1990s, according to Hampel, was stable. I will have more to say about membership and growth later in this paper.

36 I could find no record of discussion of this issue in any of the HES Board Meeting Minutes, though, as a board member in the middle 1970s and President in 1980, I recall such discussions taking place. Rousmaniere, Kate who coordinated site selection for HES meetings in the early 2000s, also recalls such discussion.

37 I happen to have attended the meeting of MHES in Chicago in October of 2008 where that decision was discussed in detail. Reasons for it that were offered included the difficulty for members not from the Midwest to receive institutional travel funding for a regional, and not national, meeting. I pointed out from a listing of attendees at the meeting that the clear majority of attendees were from the Midwest, but that had no impact on the decision. One indication that the group is education, and not, history oriented is that their publication specifies the APA manual as the required style sheet for articles. I know of no history, or history of education, journal that has such a requirement.

38 My copies of early meeting programs, through 1985 or so, either came from my own files or from the HES Archives at TC. From 1985 on, program copies came from my own files or from the HES files at the University of Delaware. The List of Participants from the 1977 meeting and the Directory of Participants from the 1992 meeting came from my own files.

39 I have served as an external examiner on some Canadian dissertations over the years and had a Fulbright to York University in suburban Toronto in 2004.

40 I have recently contributed an essay on biography and autobiography in the history of higher education to a volume of essays edited by Gasman., Marybeth Also, I am editing a volume of twenty-seven autobiographical essays by noted senior historians of American education, including my own, entitled Leaders in the History of American Education (see the citation in footnote 1).

41 I make this conclusion in spite of being the first editor of the Social and Institutional Analysis section of the American Educational Research Journal, an effort started by historians and allied scholars to get their own type of scholarship recognized within AERA. I now find AERJ as inscrutable and uninteresting as any other AERA journal.

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