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History's BabelScholarship, Professionalization, and the Historical Enterprise in the United States, 1880 - 1940$

Robert B. Townsend

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226923925

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226923949.001.0001

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Teaching Goes Its Own Way, 1925–1940

Teaching Goes Its Own Way, 1925–1940

(p.167) Chapter Nine Teaching Goes Its Own Way, 1925–1940
History's Babel

Robert B. Townsend

University of Chicago Press

Abstract and Keywords

The “research men” and those who considered themselves teachers, diverged professionally as the professional literature and networks became more distinct and as they coexisted amid the growing number of competing voices from the education community and the other teaching disciplines. The American Historical Association (AHA) formed a Commission on the Social Studies in an attempt to define the role of history teaching the classroom and the professional employment of teachers. However, the initiative was beset with problems from the start and this forced the AHA leaders to cede most of this area of the historical enterprise to the education community. In 1924 Waldo Leland, the secretary of the American Council of Learned Societies, called on the AHA Council to engage with social studies once more. By the time the AHA’s Commission on the Social Studies completed its work, social studies teachers had already assumed a professional identity that was distinct and separate from that of history teachers.

Keywords:   research, American Historical Association, Commission on the Social Studies, history, history teachers, historical enterprise, history teaching, Waldo Leland, social studies, professional identity

The professional divergence between the “research men” and those who defined themselves as teachers followed a similar, but more acrimonious, trajectory. By 1925, as the professional literature and networks became more distinct and the number of competing voices from the education community and the other teaching disciplines grew, the “research men” began to withdraw from discussions and simply declined to engage with them. At the same time, those who taught history in the schools increasingly identified with other teachers as a professional category.

Recognizing this, the AHA took up its largest effort yet to define the role of history in the classroom and the professional employment of teachers for decades to come, in the form of an extensive Commission on the Social Studies. But the effort was beset by problems from the start and ultimately convinced association leaders to largely cede this area of the historical enterprise to the education community, just as they had relinquished other areas to professionalizing archivists and historical societies.

Searching for a Full and Fair Assessment of History in the Schools

As early as 1924, the AHA Council resolved to try to regain some of the association’s lost authority over the issue of history in the schools, but the growing distance between the association’s leadership and changing practices in precollegiate teaching made it almost impossible to find (p.168) someone to lead the effort. Of two possible candidates, John Spencer Bassett reported that members of council viewed one with suspicion because he was “thought to be inclined to compromise in favor of civics,” while the other candidate was viewed skeptically because his supporters seemed to be “leaning toward the National Council for Social Studies.” For their part, neither candidate was particularly enthusiastic about taking on a committee that seemed to lack clear support from the association.1

Oddly enough (given his previous lack of interest in these issues), in mid-1924 Waldo Leland encouraged the council to take up a new and more vigorous effort to engage with the social studies. As secretary of the American Council of Learned Societies, Leland found himself at the intersection of a number of different disciplines. From that perch, he was struck by the level of engagement with teaching issues in the languages, which seemed much more secure in the curriculum. In a letter to Bassett, he enthused that the Modern Language Association (MLA) had developed a survey of the curriculum that was “completely objective,” which “does not try to prove that the study of modern languages are worthwhile, but tries to find out what really are the advantages of such study, and what objects should be sought in the teaching of foreign languages.” He concluded that the “only way” for the AHA to resolve similar issues about history’s place in the curricula was to “go to the very root of the matter and be willing to ask the question, is history worthwhile, and if so, how is it worth while? and what valuable elements in education can be supplied by history which cannot be supplied by anything else.” He issued a stark warning that if the AHA Council failed to address these issues in a more honest and forthright manner than it had, “nobody outside the Historical Association is going to be interested or impressed.”2

Leland put Bassett in touch with Max Farrand, a former member of the AHA Council teaching at Yale, who had recently become director of a small educational foundation called the Commonwealth Fund. The fund had supported the modern languages project, and Farrand was enthusiastic about supporting a similar project for history. But his support was conditional. He considered himself a “progressive” on educational issues and insisted on assurances that the AHA was open to a full and fair consideration of “the relation of History to the other social studies.” He insisted that “if we temporarily yield our traditional position of superiority—but what the other studies are apt to call supremacy or even domination—we would be in a stronger position than ever, . . . and if we (p.169) cannot maintain that position as a result of scientific inquiry, we ought to drop to our proper level.”3

Bassett and the AHA Council acceded to his conditions and agreed to a study of the relationship between history and the related disciplines on “scientific” and “objective” lines. Unfortunately, their willingness to take up the task was not met by a similar willingness from senior historians to actively join the effort. Perhaps the clearest evidence of the growing separation of academia from precollegiate teaching is the association’s long and agonizing efforts to find a senior faculty member to chair the new teaching committee. Arthur Schlesinger, who had served on a number of teaching-related committees over the previous decade, declined to serve even temporarily as chair, lamenting, “The fact is that for the past three or four years I have been trying hard to develop a genuine interest in the problem of history teaching in the schools—but I have not succeeded! I regret this, for I believe that it is perhaps the most important question that faces our profession.”4 Similarly, Charles M. Andrews of Yale, then serving as president of the association, refused to assist. Bassett conceded, “I appreciate your lack of sympathy on the whole subject. As a research man you have my complete support. I agree with you thoroughly that our Association has run too much into work like this but the remedy, it seems to me, is to get plans devised for bringing it back on the right track.”5 This perception that “research men” need not trouble themselves with teaching issues helped to energize critics of the discipline’s place in the schools. Edgar Dawson, then serving as secretary of the NCSS, warned rather starkly that “if the American Historical Association does not look out for history as a means of education, it would seem that no one else is under obligation to do so. Certainly there is no one else who both can and will.”6

Dawson laid out his growing frustration with the attitude of many historians a few years later. He insisted that he was perfectly content to treat “history” and “social studies” as interchangeable labels—as long as history was defined in the terms articulated by AHA presidents James Harvey Robinson and Edward P. Cheyney, or “the dean of history teachers,” Henry Johnson.7 He noted with regret, however, that “if the average historian insists on giving a narrow and visionless definition of his subject, some of the members of the teaching profession must find another term to describe the work they are doing in this field.”8 Even if the AHA Council did not consist of “average historians” by most measures, it certainly clung to a narrow definition of the field. At least part of its attitude (p.170) seems to be generational. At the time, the council was still largely comprised of historians who entered the profession around the time of the Committee of Seven report, so it is not surprising that most still held an older view of history teaching, even as a few members (most notably James Harvey Robinson) remained quite open to repositioning history in the curriculum.

As he struggled to find someone to lead the effort, Bassett complained that one candidate’s “view would easily satisfy the Council, which is generally conservative. I am not sure that it would satisfy the more modern school.”9 Bassett expressed frustration with the “divided opinion in the Association. Some of us are quite conservative and wish to follow the old lines [laid out by the Committee of Seven]. Some others are modern and wish to accept a different kind of material for entrance to college and also for the freshman course. It is a subject we ought to thrash out.”10

Ultimately the council settled on August C. Krey, a medievalist at the University of Minnesota. Even though he was not particularly distinguished as a scholar, Krey seemed the perfect choice, as someone who taught high school history while earning his PhD and subsequently aided the National Board for Historical Service during the war.11 In Krey they finally happened upon someone with the energy and enthusiasm to push the issue forward while drawing support for the different interests on these issues. Dawson endorsed Krey as someone with “positive, but not ossified, views on history and its place in the school. . . . He is more conservative than I am; but he is reasonable and well informed.”12 Krey accepted the post with considerable reluctance, however, repeatedly stating his anxieties about taking on a position that was so politically fraught.13

After studying the issues for a year, he strongly encouraged the council to take up an extended multidisciplinary survey along lines first recommended by Leland and Farrand; one that looked deeply at all areas of history in the schools, including curricula, teaching methods, teacher training, and testing. Krey offered little comfort to the conservatives on the council, observing that the “conditions of the country as a whole have changed considerably” since the Committee of Seven report. He catalogued a long list of societal changes that transformed the fundamental purpose and function of the schools (including the population shift from rural to urban, women seeking careers outside the home, increased geographic mobility, the nation’s growing involvement in world affairs, and that secondary education was “no longer preparation for college but for life”). He concluded that the “science of education, then almost nonexistent (p.171) in this country, has become an important profession with a vast accumulation of literature and a very respectable group of scholars,” and the association needed to adjust its thinking to fit these new realities.14

With some reluctance, the council agreed to form an “Investigation on History and Other Social Studies in the Schools,” but Bassett was the only elected member of the council initially willing to serve on the committee. After further review of the issues, the committee returned to the council and asked quite pointedly whether it was

willing to sponsor an investigation whose end shall be a systematic program of social education for the fourteen grades of the public schools, understanding: 1. That such an investigation and program will involve all of the social subjects. 2. That the resultant program may make serious changes in the content of history now offered in the schools.15

The council again reaffirmed its support of the project, though there is no evidence that it seriously engaged with the issues laid out by Krey and the committee.

An Independent Identity for School Teachers

Unfortunately, it took the better part of three years to secure proper funding for the investigation (from the Carnegie Corporation of New York), during which time the NCSS grew more independent from the AHA.16 In 1925, the NCSS reconstituted itself as a “department” of the National Education Association, and asserted that within the schools, the various social studies disciplines “including history, economics, sociology, and government, if offered, shall be organized in one department, unless the school is so large that separate departments are required for one or more of these studies.”17 The AHA also diminished its public connection to the Historical Outlook, even though it continued to support the publication financially and still appointed some members of the editorial board. But at the AHA Council’s insistence, the description of the relationship on the magazine’s cover was changed to read that it was “published with the endorsement of the American Historical Association.” Bassett stressed, however, that this was “not to be taken as lessening to any extent the cordial approval felt by the Council for that excellent journal.”18

(p.172) Regardless of the council’s “cordial approval,” in both quantitative and qualitative terms, history was increasingly subsumed into the social studies in the Historical Outlook. After 1925, the authors publishing articles in the Outlook became increasingly distinct from the membership of the association. The number of academics writing in the magazine (at least academics not affiliated with education departments or teachers colleges) was perceptibly smaller, while historians from research universities disappeared almost entirely from the Outlook’s pages. Moreover, the topical content of the magazine began to change. A diminishing proportion of the pages focused on particular historical questions or content, displaced instead by a growing attention to pedagogical experiments written by education specialists, psychologists, and faculty in other social science disciplines. Meanwhile, even some history teachers were beginning to identify the merits of forming history into a larger department with the other social sciences.19 And former friends of the discipline also started to cut their ties with the AHA’s official position, most notably Daniel Knowlton, the disaffected former secretary of the AHA’s Committee on History Education and Citizenship, who called for explicit reductions to history’s role in the curriculum.20

Regardless of the association’s efforts to resist change, national surveys of student enrollments demonstrated the substantial erosion of history’s place in the curriculum. By 1928, less than half of high school students were taking history courses (fig. 9.1), and the mix of history courses changed significantly as well. There was a sharp increase in the proportion of students taking American history courses, while the number of students in European history courses (ancient, medieval, and modern) had all declined sharply from five years earlier.21

As a result of the shift in course offerings, a growing segment of history teachers was being pressed into service in other courses. By 1930, less than 12 percent of the high school teachers whose primary field was history were able to teach in just that one field. The rest were teaching in a wide range of other subjects. Almost half (45 percent) taught courses in English, another 10.3 percent taught mathematics, and 8.9 percent taught at least one course in foreign languages.22 This was hardly news, at the time. Krey cited anecdotal evidence along the same lines, in 1925, and used it as a critical selling point to the council in arguing the need to set aside narrow and idealistic notions of what it meant to be a “history teacher.”23

But by this time many teachers at the precollegiate and collegiate (p.173) levels had grown weary of waiting for the association to provide real leadership on the issues. One junior college teacher observed that

the typical college professor of the typical learned societies are themselves too far removed from the life of the adolescent to understand him; and they are too afraid that the robes of their academic dignity may have some of the glamour rubbed off if they sit at the same conference table with high school teachers, argue the matter, and give the latter some credit for knowledge.24

Teaching Goes Its Own Way, 1925–1940

Figure 9.1. Proportion of public high school students enrolled in courses in select fields, 1915–1949

Source: Jenssen and Herlihy, Offerings and Registrations, 28 (table 1); and Smith, Offerings and Enrollments, 1948–49, 28 (table 1).

Investigating History and the Social Studies

The association did little to allay these concerns when it finally appointed a Commission on Social Studies that consisted only of academics, education professors, and school administrators. So by the time the commission truly got underway (in 1928), the lines of professional differences were already hardening against any recommendations the AHA (p.174) might offer. Nevertheless, this commission was to be one of the largest undertakings in the association’s 125-year history, encompassing more than twenty commission members and staff, working with a host of associated organizations on five broad areas of activity: objectives for the social studies, content, placement of content in grades, methods of instruction, and preparation of teachers and training.25

The membership can hardly indicate the relative scale of the project in the larger work of the AHA. The $250,000 the Carnegie Corporation provided for the commission was eight times the entire annual operating budget of the association in 1928. And at its peak in 1932, the commission had eight employees working on salary and more than twenty people serving on one of its committees—as many paid staff as all the other association activities (including the AHR) combined and comprising almost a third of all the personnel working on AHA committees.

To obtain these funds the council had to agree to further compromises, however. The Carnegie Corporation insisted on a smaller proportion of historians and greater emphasis on the practical aspects of teaching, particularly student testing.26 So from the outset, the role of history was situated in a context that prevented the historians from offering their normal assertions about the primacy of historical research. This was signaled in part by formally dropping the word history from the name of the commission, but it was also marked more tangibly on the leadership team for the project, in which historians comprised only a third of the members.27 The commission started its work with a host of surveys on teaching practices, the development of new tests to measure student knowledge and work in the field, and a series of narrower studies on best practices in particular subject fields.

While Krey provided the operational direction for the commission, Charles Beard provided much of its intellectual direction, both as a member and ultimately as president of the association when the commission completed its work in 1934. Like his friend and colleague James Harvey Robinson, Beard was an early and committed advocate of the New History, and he brought a similar enthusiasm for close relations between the social science disciplines to discussions about the social studies—indeed, in some documents he was counted among the representatives for political science.28

Early on, Beard drafted a statement outlining the broad objectives of the commission, laying out an ideological argument for the social studies that in many ways was the commission’s most enduring contribution.29 (p.175) Beard’s statement situated the study of history and the other subjects into his progressive worldview—proposing a “seamless web” in which the perspective of the present and the needs of the future shaped the teaching of each subject. Initially, his draft elicited a mixed reception from other members of the commission who felt it was too general and too far removed from the realities of the classroom.30 Nevertheless, as the commission struggled to find its bearings after two years of producing narrow and highly technical reports for each other, the members finally decided to publish Beard’s statement (with some revisions) simply to offer some public signs of life.

Unfortunately, Beard’s statement, like much of the commission’s subsequent work, was widely criticized, because it seemed too theoretical and abstract to have much application to the real work of teachers—as some on the commission had already predicted. Worse still, the publication of Beard’s statement marked the unraveling of Krey’s original plan, which envisioned a series of consensus reports published as products of the entire commission. By 1930, the commission had fallen into disarray—a poor model of the ideal type of collective behavior the commission set as its model outcome for social studies education.31 Instead of speaking with the authority and assent of the full commission, the divergent specialized interests could not reach a consensus on even the simplest issues. As a result, much of the commission’s work (including a series of lengthy and wide-ranging surveys assessing changing enrollment patterns, teaching practices and networks, and new tests and measurements for the classroom) never saw the light of day. And the commission ultimately decided to publish all but one of its reports as authored by individual experts.

The commission was undercut by three distinct problems. First, the project was developed in the prosperity of the late 1920s but came to a close in the very different circumstances of the Depression. As a result, the impetus for the social studies, and more specifically teaching that spoke to the social and economic crisis of the day, hardly needed the commission’s efforts to justify them. And while the Beardian emphasis on developing a social-minded temperament aligned well with the early New Deal, very few school systems had the resources in the 1930s to turn these ideals into actionable plans in the schools.

Second, the same lack of agreement that prevented the commission from producing consensus reports (even the one compromise report, published in a slender volume of “Conclusions and Recommendations,” (p.176) appeared with three of the sixteen members dissenting) undercut any aspirations that the work produced by the commission represented a definitive statement on the subject.32 Commission member Frank Ballou (superintendent of the Washington, DC, schools) offered a fairly devastating critique of the final report, arguing that it was “destructively critical of current educational practices which the Commission did not adequately investigate and dispassionately appraise; on the other hand, the report does not present a reasonable definite, constructive program for the improvement of instruction in the social studies.”33

Finally, the widely dispersed system of authorities over the schools made it impossible for any broad national program for history or social studies curricula to find much traction—a fact Krey tacitly acknowledged by following his work on the commission with a volume on A Regional Program for the Social Studies.34 As a number of analysts observed at the time and since, the highly localized system of authorities in precollegiate education presented daunting challenges to any reform effort.

Whatever the intended goals of the commission’s early sponsors on the council, by 1934 there was ample evidence that it had done little to stem the diminution of history in the schools. Just as the commission was concluding its work, barely 43 percent of all high school students were enrolled in history courses (fig. 9.1). Even the proportion of high school students taking American history had declined slightly since 1928, from 17.9 percent to 17.4 percent of the students enrolled. Meanwhile the European history fields continued to shrink, with just 6.7 percent taking ancient history and 6.2 percent taking medieval and modern history courses. World history was the only field to show a real increase, from 6.1 percent in 1928 to 11.9 percent of students in 1934.35

By all accounts the long-term effect of the commission was quite limited, which is why it tends to receive very little attention in the historiography about history teaching despite the relative scale of the undertaking. But it did have three discernable affects. First, it added the AHA’s prestige to efforts to legitimate the social studies as an umbrella for a number of school subjects (of which history was only one). The National Council for Social Studies marked the commission’s recommendations as a vital starting point for fresh experimentation with social studies courses and curricula.36 Second, the wide-ranging investigation gathered information on the state of the art in the schools and laid out a coherent rationale for the development of new social studies courses, which provided essential source material for further work. And finally, the difficulties (p.177) surrounding the commission largely convinced the AHA’s Council to cede precollegiate education to other organizations and interested parties, particularly the National Council for the Social Studies.

As a tangible expression of the AHA’s separation from teaching issues, in 1934 Krey and Beard convinced the AHA Council to use the funds left over from the commission’s work (about $10,000) to subsidize the Historical Outlook (to be renamed Social Studies) and the National Council for the Social Studies.37 But the shift was deeply contentious and exposed many of the raw feelings between the history scholars and the teaching community. Even though the NCSS had suffered a sharp decline in membership as a result of the Depression, and the leaders of the association were willing to underwrite the costs, the leaders of the NCSS were deeply suspicious of the academics’ motives and intentions.38 Dawson observed that “the [NCSS] has soft-pedaled and marked time for as long as it ought to do so,” and added that “it is difficult [to see] how the agents of any organization of specialists . . . should expect the teachers of the social studies to be content in a side-show tent under the patronage of an association of scholars who are primarily devoted to research and specialized scholarship.”39 The correspondence around the move shows this reflected a common feeling among the leaders of the social studies council, where the sense of separation between the research men and the teachers was sharp and fraught with mistrust, and the leaders of the two organizations argued extensively over the proper shape of the magazine reconceived as a house journal for the NCSS.40

In the end, Beard agreed to serve as the chair of the editorial board of the magazine, and reported that “The Social Studies is the official organ of the National Council for the Social Studies and . . . serves as a valuable connecting link between the [American Historical] Association and the National Council.”But, he acknowledged, “There can be no doubt at all that The Social Studies is serving a very useful purpose, particularly to the secondary school teachers in the field of the social studies. It is very definitely addressed to quite a different clientele from that of The American Historical Review.”41

This marked a critical turning point for the two organizations, as the magazine explicitly expanded its focus to serve as a professional outlet for the social studies in the schools. This quickly became evident in both the content and the authors writing for the journal. The content increasingly embraced all the social studies subjects (including articles specifically on teaching geography and political science, for instance), and a declining (p.178) number of articles dealt specifically with history (barely 8 percent between 1934 and 1937). A better reflection of the changing professional networks evolving around the journal can be found in those authoring articles. The number of authors who were professors in departments of history in four-year colleges and universities had been declining steadily since the early 1920s. But after 1934 they were largely displaced by professors at teachers colleges and in departments of education, or teachers and heads of high school social studies departments.

The regional associations of history teachers generally followed the same trajectory, by revising their missions and their names. In 1935, the Middle States Association of History Teachers voted to insert “and Social Studies” into its name. It also followed Social Studies in greatly extending the material covered at its meetings to include the full range of social studies fields and subsumed history into the mix. Just seven years later the membership voted to drop “History” from its name altogether and formally affiliated with the NCSS.42

The separation became even more pronounced in 1937, when Albert McKinley’s heirs seized ownership of Social Studies and forced the AHA and the NCSS to start an entirely new magazine called Social Education.43 It is not clear what effect this had on the subscriber base of the two organizations, but the two magazines quickly established very distinct identities. Social Studies magazine focused almost exclusively on elementary and high school social studies teachers, while Social Education continued to make at least some effort to serve as a bridge between school teachers, education specialists, and academics in the social science disciplines.44 Not surprisingly, almost none of the authors in Social Studies after the split were members of the AHA, but a small and significant portion of the editorial board and authors of Social Education were. Despite the continued link, the temper and tone of the articles exhibited increasing independence from the AHA, bordering at times on hostility. This was particularly evident in a series of sharp exchanges of letters between Conyers Read and educators who questioned the large role historians still seemed to play in setting the criteria for college entrance examinations.45 Erling Hunt, the editor of the magazine at the time, noted with regret that the conversation “revived and aggravated” a “recent tradition of ill-feeling between some of the college men in history and the social sciences and some of the secondary school and teachers’ college men who are prominent in the [NCSS].”46

For the next two years, there was very little contact between the AHA (p.179) offices and the NCSS, except on minor functional matters. By 1939, the NCSS moved decisively into a position of clear independence. It established a central office in Washington with its own executive director, and the AHA formally ceded Social Education over to it (though the AHA continued to provide a modest financial subsidy until 1955). Some of the conversations surrounding these shifts reflect the growing perception of the organization as a professional operation. Addressing the membership in 1940, Ruth West, the president of the NCSS, advised that the organization “can help us, and does so, with timely publications; but it can do even more by giving us opportunities to meet and know each other, to talk over common problems together, to bring us the best minds in or out of the profession to counsel us, and to help us learn something of the values and technics of cooperation.” She added that the “freedom of teaching and learning which we prize so dearly will be far less likely to suffer if our professional organization commands respect of laymen and teacher alike.”47

By the time the AHA’s Commission on the Social Studies finished its work, social studies teachers had taken on a distinct and separate professional identity, and the AHA did little to win them back. By turning Social Education over to the NCSS, the AHA helped to clearly establish the separate professional network that some on the AHA’s Council had feared back in the 1920s. By the mid-1930s, those concerns had largely disappeared. The academic members of the council were content to let the NCSS serve as the professional association for history teaching, even if it meant the subject was largely subsumed into the social studies. As Ruth West’s comments attest, by 1940 the professional fragmentation of the historical enterprise was complete.


(p.244) (1) . John Spencer Bassett to Charles M. Andrews, March 22, 1924, box 36, folder 7, John Spencer Bassett Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC (hereafter cited as Bassett Papers).

(2) . Waldo G. Leland to John Spencer Bassett, May 15, 1924, box 15 “Secretary File: Corres., Reports, etc., of Waldo G. Leland,” file “Leland 1910–26,” American Historical Association Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC (hereafter cited as AHA Papers).

(3) . Max Farrand to John Spencer Bassett, May 29, 1925, box 34, file 34/5, Bassett Papers. For a wider perspective on Farrand’s views, see Judith Sealander, Private Wealth and Public Life: Foundation Philanthropy and the Reshaping of American Social Policy from the Progressive Era to the New Deal (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997), 31. Like a number of the other most active proponents of an accommodation with the social studies within the AHA (such as Becker, Beard, and Robinson), Farrand later became president of the AHA (in 1940).

(4) . A. M. Schlesinger to Bassett, August 16, 1924, file 36/9, Bassett Papers.

(5) . Bassett to C. M. Andrews, September 8, 1924, file 36/9, Bassett Papers.

(6) . Edgar Dawson to Bassett, November 16, 1924, file 37/2, Bassett Papers. This apparently led to an invitation and meeting with the council and some un-stated commitments to proceed with a committee. Dawson to Bassett, November 25, 1924, ibid.; and Bassett to Dawson, November 26, 1924, ibid. Bassett concluded that “I trust that the report of the committee on which you are to serve may give us a definite solution of the matter.”

(7) . Cheyney seems a bit unusual in this context, but Dawson was referring here to his 1923 AHA presidential address, “Law in History,” (American Historical Review 29 [January 1924]: 231–48 [hereafter cited as AHR]), where he argued, “The processes of the minds of men, individually and in groups, are fast being explained by psychological and social laws. Man is simply a part of a law-controlled world.”

(8) . Edgar Dawson, Teaching the Social Studies (New York: Macmillan, 1927), x.

(9) . Bassett to C. M. Andrews, August 22, 1924, file 36/9, Bassett Papers.

(10) . Bassett to Schlesinger, August 22, 1924, file 36/9, Bassett Papers.

(11) . Bassett to August C. Krey, January 28, 1925, box 769, file “Developments History and Other Social Studies,” AHA Papers.

(12) . Edgar Dawson to Bassett, January 20, 1925, file 37/4, Bassett Papers.

(13) . Krey’s messages to the council tended to be lengthy. For instance, after sending a lengthy preliminary report to the council, he followed it up with another nine-page letter defending his report. Krey to Bassett, April 11, 1925, box 769, file “Developments History and the Other Social Sciences,” AHA Papers.

(p.245) (14) . A. C. Krey to the Council of the American Historical Association, November 1925, box 34, folder 6, Bassett Papers, reprinted in slightly abbreviated form in Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1925 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1929), 83–92 (hereafter cited as AHA Annual Report).

(15) . Memo to the Council of the American Historical Association from the Committee on History and Other Social Studies, box 459, file “Cmte Reports Annual Meeting 1926,” AHA Papers. An edited version of the report is published in the AHA Annual Report, 1926, 107–33. Notably, the committee’s rather pointed observations about the potential risks from this sort of study were not included in the published report.

(16) . Details on the funding and planning of the committee can be found in Bethany Jayne Andreasen, “Reconstructing the Social Order: The American Historical Association Commission on the Social Studies” (PhD diss., Cornell University, 1987); and Truman Beckley Brown, “The American Historical Association and the Schools: A Study of Condescension and Protection in the Twentieth Century” (PhD diss., State University of New York, Buffalo, 1985).

(17) . “Historical Note,” Proceedings of the National Education Association 78 (1940): 557 and “Fifth Annual Meeting of the National Council for the Social Studies, Historical Outlook 16, no. 4 (April 1925): 135.

(18) . John Spencer Bassett, “Report of the Secretary for the Council,” in AHA Annual Report, 1925.

(19) . Abbie N. Fletcher, “The Salesmanship of a Social Science Department,” Occasional Letter [of the Southern California Social Science Association] 3, no. 1 (1926): 1–2, 12.

(20) . Daniel C. Knowlton, History and the Other Social Studies in Junior and Senior High Schools (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1926).

(21) . Frank M. Phillips, Statistical Summary of Education, 1927–1928, US Bureau of Education Bulletin 1930, no. 3 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1930), 15. These findings were confirmed in a closer analysis of schools in the South in Joseph Roemer, Secondary Schools of the Southern Association, US Bureau of Education Bulletin 1928, no. 16 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1928), 62–63 (tables 41 and 42). The survey also provides interesting evidence about perceptions that a disproportionate number of history teachers coached sports teams. While a significant number of the coaches teaching in the schools (15.6 percent) were teaching history, this was actually much smaller than the fields of mathematics (19.9 percent) and science (20.9 percent) (table 55).

(22) . Edward S. Evenden, Guy C. Gamble, and Harold G. Blue, National Survey of the Education of Teachers (Washington, DC: Bureau of Education, 1935), 68–69.

(23) . “Report of the Committee on History Teaching in the Schools,” in AHA Annual Report, 1925, 83–92.

(p.246) (24) . Julie Koch, “The Social Studies Curriculum in the Junior College,” Social Studies Leaflet 6, no. 1 (November 1929): 2.

(25) . This was done as an actual blueprint, prepared in September 1928 by committee staff to guide initial planning efforts and subsequent work. The original can be found in box 769 of the AHA Papers.

(26) . The often-tortured negotiations about balancing the number of scholars are examined in close detail in Brown, “The American Historical Association and the Schools,” 296–307, drawing on information in the Carnegie Foundation’s papers.

(27) . “Report of Progress in the Investigation of the Social Studies in the Schools, Spring 1931,” box 769, AHA Papers.

(28) . Despite his work in history, Beard also served as president of the American Political Science Association in 1926.

(29) . Charles A. Beard, A Charter for the Social Sciences in the Schools (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1932); Commission on the Social Studies, Conclusions and Recommendations of the Commission (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1934).

(30) . Bethany Jayne Andreasen, “Reconstructing the Social Order,” 99, 137, 158–72.

(31) . The best summary of the commission’s work can be found in Andreasen, “Reconstructing the Social Order.”

(32) . See, for instance, “Social Study Row Stirred by Report,” New York Times, May 10, 1934, 23, which reported that a quarter of the commission’s sixteen members were refusing to sign on to its “radical” conclusions.

(33) . Frank W. Ballou, “Statement Concerning the Report of the Commission on the Investigation of History and the Other Social Studies of the American Historical Association,” School and Society 39, no. 1014 (June 2, 1934): 701–2. This is similar to complaints offered in a series of critical essays published in the Social Studies 25, no. 6 (October 1934): 279–94; and Kenneth E. Gell, “Implications of the Report of the Commission on the Social Studies of the American Historical Association,” Proceedings of the National Education Association 72 (1934): 516.

(34) . August C. Krey, A Regional Program for the Social Studies (New York: Macmillan, 1938).

(35) . Carl A. Jenssen and Lester B. Herlihy, Offerings and Registrations in High-School Subjects, 1933–34, US Bureau of Education Bulletin 1938, no. 6 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1938), 28 (table 1). In real terms, the report’s tabulations of students taking the courses show the massive increase in the numbers of students taking these courses. According to the report, there were 14,915 schools teaching American history to 1,139,860 students; 9,767 schools teaching world history to 557,326 students; 5,660 schools teaching ancient history to 309,591 students; 4,154 schools teaching medieval history to (p.247) 191,736 students; 1,376 schools teacher modern history to 86,500 students. This compares to just 964 schools with social science studies, with 327,158 students. This shows the relative balance in subjects at this time, and that the subjects were still generally considered in discrete terms at the high school level.

(36) . Ruth West, the president of the NCSS in 1940, observed that “most social-studies teachers have found the reports of the Commission on the Social Studies of the American Historical Association their most helpful guide in this period of change. The Commission went far toward clarifying problems and giving insight into the methods best adapted to their solution,” even though they “felt that the time was not ripe for recommending a ‘course of study.’” West, foreword to The Future of the Social Studies: Proposals for an Experimental Social-Studies Curriculum, ed. James A. Michener (Cambridge, MA: National Council for the Social Studies, 1939), iii.

(37) . See “Votes Passed by the Executive Committee,” in AHA Annual Report, 1933, 3, 12–13, and 18–19; and “Report of the Treasurer,” in AHA Annual Report, 1933, 96–97.

(38) . Bessie L. Pierce, the secretary-treasurer of the NCSS at the time, pleaded for a more diplomatic tone with the AHA, “in light of our present financial status,” noting that “the depression has made quite an inroad on our membership.” Pierce to Edgar Dawson, July 10, 1933, box 329, file “Reference Notes and Typescript History of NCSS by Edgar Dawson—1934–35,” National Council for the Social Studies Records, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History (henceforth designated NCSS Records).

(39) . Edgar Dawson to Bessie L. Pierce, July 14, 1933, box 329, file “Reference Notes,” NCSS Records.

(40) . A memo (dated October 17, 1936) by H. E. Wilson, representing the NCSS in the negotiations, records the discussions at just one meeting descending into “sparring,” “considerable impasse,” and charges of “unethical behavior,” box 266, file “AHA Social Education–Agreements between AHA & NCSS,” NCSS Records.

(41) . “Historical News,” AHR 41 (April 1936): 594.

(42) . Jeannette P. Nichols, Morris Wolf, and Arthur C. Bining, eds., History in the High School and Social Studies in the Elementary School, Annual Proceedings of Middle States Council for the Social Studies 41 (Philadelphia: Middle States Council for the Social Studies, 1944), 3.

(43) . When the AHA and NCSS attempted to take the Social Studies to a new publishing house and hand more editorial control over to the council, they discovered belatedly that the association lacked full ownership of the magazine (echoing the dispute over the AHR in 1915). As a result, the heirs of Alfred E. McKinley took the subscriber list and the name and continued publishing Social Studies on their own. Social Studies and Social Education ultimately merged back together in 1957, published under the former title but by the NCSS.

(p.248) (44) . On the differing editorial philosophies of the two journals, see Arthur C. Bining, “Announcement of Change in Editorial Management,” Social Studies 28, no. 1 (January 1937): 1; and Erling M. Hunt, “Editorial Announcement,” Social Education 1, no. 1 (January 1937): 1–2.

(45) . See, for instance, Tyler Kepner, “The Dilemma of the Secondary-School Social-Studies Teacher,” Social Education 1, no. 2 (February 1937): 81–87; and Conyers Read, “The Dissenting Opinion of Mr. Tyler Kepner,” Social Education 1, no. 2 (February 1937): 88–93. In a personal letter to Read, the editor of Social Education expresses some regret at the “sharpness” of the exchanges and observes that some readers had been objecting to the tone. Erling M. Hunt to Conyers Read, May 5, 1937, box 107, file “Social Education, Correspondence,” AHA Papers.

(46) . Erling P. Hunt to Paul Cram, April 26, 1937, box 266, file “Soc. Ed. Corresp.—1936–1938,” NCSS Records.

(47) . National Education Association, Proceedings of the National Education Association 1940 (Washington, DC: National Education Association of the United States, 1948), 559–60.