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I am pleased to respond to this series of essays, shortened versions of which were presented at the AERA meeting in San Diego in April 2009. When I heard Eileen Tamura, Carolyn Eick, and Roland Coloma talk about theory in educational history in San Diego, I responded positively to what I thought was serious work and an invitation to those of us who don't do that kind of work to consider its value. Reading the essays, seeing the arguments fleshed out, I am able here to react more extensively to each.
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.
At the 2003 Sydney IAU meeting, Marion Schmitz (Caltech, USA) took over the chair of the Commission 5 Working Group Designations, succeeding Helene Dickel. The Working Group Designations of IAU Commission 5 clarifies existing astronomical nomenclature and helps astronomers avoid potential problems when designating their sources. The most important function of WG Designations during the period 2003-2005 was overseeing the IAU REGISTRY FOR ACRONYMS (for newly discovered astronomical sources of radiation: see the website <http://cdsweb.u-strasbg.fr/cgi-bin/DicForm>) which is sponsored by the WG and operated by the Centre de Données de Strasbourg (CDS). The Clearing House, a subgroup of the WG, screens the submissions for accuracy and conformity to the IAU Recommendations for Nomenclature (<http://cdsweb.u-strasbg.fr/iau-spec.html>). From its beginning in 1997 through August 2006, there have been 132 submissions and 111 acceptances. Attempts to register asterisms, common star names, and suspected variable stars were rejected. The past three years saw 61 acronyms submitted with 50 of them being accepted. (GIRL - yes; WOMEN - no).
The National Education Association (NEA) has not been a topic of choice for many educational historians. Perhaps a major reason for this it that the NEA as a site for historical work seems fraught with pitfalls. Consider first the problem of the NEA as a setting for an institutional history. The major example of this kind of work yielded a decidedly unsatisfactory result. Edgar B. Wesley's centennial history of the NEA, published in 1957, is an almost completely uncritical description and an unabashed celebration of the organization.
The recent opening of the Horace Mann Bond Papers to scholars, along with publication of an article on Bond's early career which used those papers, should spark renewed interest in the work of this noted teacher, scholar, and educational administrator. Visitors to the Bond Papers, housed at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, will find a wealth of unpublished and published material relating to many notable events in the educational history of the twentieth century. Bond's interests were broad, encompassing both humanistic and social scientific approaches to the educational and social problems of blacks. He wrote noted critiques of the mental testing movement at several stages of his long career, did historical research for the plaintiffs in the Brown v. Topeka school desegregation suit, and traveled extensively to Africa and studied its civilizations in the later stages of his career.
The presidential address is one of the freer forms of professional communication currently in use in the American academic community. One can get a glimpse of freedom of the form by briefly perusing the presidential messages published in various historical journals over the past five or so years. A president may, like William Bouwsma, touch on a current in his own specialty because it is of “considerable importance for historians and for the larger culture of which we are a part.” And, using his own expertise in Renaissance history, he proceeded to identify changes in Renaissance historiography, with the larger theme of “the collapse of the traditional dramatic organization of Western history.” Other options which have been exercised by historian presidents include the challenge to improve teaching offered by Gilbert C. Fite to his colleages in the Southern Historical Association or the consideration of the effects of the federal government on all aspects of the historical profession offered by Richard W. Leopold to the Organization of American Historians.