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Did the Social Studies Really Replace History in American Secondary Schools?


by Thomas Fallace - 2008

Background/Context: In recent decades, professional historians have made considerable efforts to reestablish influence over the teaching of history in American schools. This movement has rested upon a generally accepted historical narrative based on four assertions; first, that during the 1900s and 1910s, professional historians dominated the curriculum of most public schools; second, that this control was usurped by the “educationist” authors of the 1916 Committee of the Social Studies; third, that this report recommended social studies courses that amalgamated history and the social sciences to address current events and problems; and fourth, that over the course of the 1920s and 1930s, these amalgamated social studies courses replaced “straight” history in most American schools.

Purpose: The author challenges each of these assertions directly to present a more nuanced, accurate view of these years.

Research Design: Previous studies of this topic have tended to focus on the correspondence among professional leaders and/or the ideologies of the compilers of the Committee of Ten, Committee of Seven, and the Committee of the Social Studies (CSS) reports. While the author touches on these topics briefly as they relate to the four assertions above, the focus of this article is on some internal and external factors that have been overlooked, such as teacher qualifications, the content of textbooks, changing course enrollments, and the effects of the First World War.

Findings/Conclusions: The author argues that the transition from history to the social studies at the secondary level was not abrupt and that the social studies reform movement did not directly target discipline-based history. More important, he demonstrates that, at least through the 1930s, history courses were never fully displaced by amalgamated social studies classes. Therefore, the degree to which history and historians were “replaced” by the social studies and its advocates have been exaggerated in the present literature, and the use of words like, “abrupt,” “disappearance,” and “educationists,” have been misleading.



INTRODUCTION


In recent years, it has become conventional wisdom among many historians to blame the emergence of the social studies for the demise of history in American secondary schools. This interpretation has not only become the default explanation in the academic discourse, but it has also had an influential effect on educational policy. Historians’ direct role in the drafting of national and state standards and the reform of teaching requirements in many states can be viewed in part as initiatives to wrestle the history curriculum away from social studies educators and place it back in the hands of professional historians. Accompanying this movement has been a greater interest among historians in developing their own empirical research base for improving the teaching and learning of history at all levels.1


The effort by historians to reestablish influence over the American curriculum rests upon a generally accepted historical narrative based on four assertions. The first assertion is that prior to 1916, professional historians set the pattern of courses for most middle and high schools through the recommendations of two influential reports, the 1893 National Educational Association’s (NEA) Committee of Ten, and the 1899 American Historical Association’s (AHA) Committee of Seven. According to this view, through these reports, the writing of textbooks, and their support of the periodical the History Teacher Magazine, professional historians essentially controlled the high school history curriculum in the early part of the century. “If the story of the history curriculum ended in 1915,” Diane Ravitch laments in her account of the transition from history to social studies, “there would be good news about the status of history.”2 The second assertion is that control over the curriculum was usurped by the authors of the 1916 Committee of the Social Studies (CSS) report, a distinct group of educationists who pitted themselves against professional historians. “The programmatic justification for social studies which increasingly drove ‘straight’ history from the schools,” Peter Novick argues, “came from educationists and those like John Dewey, who were allied with them.”3 These educationists, according to this interpretation, were a distinct group of reformers who directly targeted the academic disciplines and established their own curricular pattern. The most notorious of these educationists were David Snedden and Harold Rugg. The “top priority” of Snedden, Robert Orrill and Linn Shapiro assert, “was to eliminate history from the curriculum.”4 Rugg, David Moreau argues, “More than any other single educator, . . . would end up creating the modern academic subject of ‘social studies.’”5


The third assertion is that the social studies represented the paradigmatic example of the new, utilitarian curricular pattern formulated by the educationists. Instead of basing the content of courses on the academic disciplines, content was based on the present needs of students and real-life issues. The social sciences were combined with history to address emerging issues and current events. In his history of twentieth-century curriculum reform, David Cohen defined these new social studies courses derisively as “an amalgam of sociology, economics, and political science, with some history thrown in.”6 As E. D. Hirsch further explains, “Like vocational courses, social studies courses were directed ‘to the activities of life’ rather than to the demands of any subject as a logically organized science.’”7 According to these scholars, history courses, characterized by a comprehensive chronological overview of a historical period and location, were replaced by social studies courses, in which disciplinary content was blended together or referred to only when considered relevant to a particular issue.


The fourth assertion is that over the course of the 1920s and 1930s, educationists like Snedden, Rugg, and the authors of the CSS report led a successful campaign to replace straight history with these amalgam social studies courses. “From these reorganizations,” Patricia Albjerg Graham asserts, “came the disappearance of history and government as separate subjects and the emergence of ‘social studies’ which was intended to integrate past and present behavior.”8 According to this interpretation, because of the changing nature of the school population, the academic curriculum was no longer considered appropriate for most high school students. Educationists deliberately and systematically introduced the social studies to increase the holding power of schools and to help students adjust to their appropriate social roles. In History on Trial, Gary Nash, Charlotte Crabtree, and Ross E. Dunn describe succinctly the conventional interpretation and the four assertions upon which it rests. In a section titled “Historians Take a Walk,” the authors identify the 1916 report as the end of the “golden age of the four-year history curriculum,” which “came to an abrupt end as Community Civics and Problems of Democracy courses became dominant features of the new social studies curriculum, a national pattern in place for the next seventy years.”9


In this article, I challenge each of these assertions. I argue that the transition from history to the social studies at the secondary level was not abrupt and that the social studies reform movement did not directly target discipline-based history. Most important, I demonstrate that, at least through the 1930s, history courses were never fully displaced by amalgamated social studies classes. Therefore, the degree to which history and historians were “replaced” by the social studies and its advocates has been exaggerated in the present literature, and the use of words like, “abrupt,” “disappearance,” and “educationists,” have been misleading.


I will not present a chronological overview of the transition from history to social studies. Such work has already been done by numerous studies, which have tended to focus on the correspondence among professional leaders and/or the ideologies of the compilers of the Committee of Ten, Committee of Seven, and the CSS reports.10 While I will touch on these topics briefly as they relate to the four assertions above, my focus will be on some internal and external factors that have been overlooked, such as teacher qualifications, the content of textbooks, changing course enrollments, and the effects of the First World War. By drawing on local survey and statistic research, I will center my inquiry on the interaction between the professional discourse and actual classroom practice at the ground level. With this article, I seek to challenge the assertion issued most recently by Orrill and Shapiro that “Social studies first appeared . . . in the form of a concentrated effort to reconfigure and diminish the role of history in the American educational enterprise.”11


DID HISTORIANS DOMINATE THE CURRICULUM PRIOR TO 1916?


Before we delve into the transformation of the history curriculum in American public schools, we must first briefly examine the conditions of the “golden age” of history instruction before the social studies were implemented. In the years between the reports of the Committee of Ten and CSS, the high schools experienced an unprecedented degree of growth as immigrant and non-college-bound students entered the public school system in large numbers. The changing school population mirrored the changing face of American culture. As the country continued its transition to a modern, industrialized society, the recently formed professional groups like the American Political Science Association (1903) and American Sociological Society (1907) began to exert their influence over municipal reform, social planning, and education. All these groups demanded more inclusion in the evolving modernized secondary curriculum. In addition, a greater appreciation among progressive scholars and reformers for the interdependent nature of modern life created a context conducive to the introduction of more content from the social sciences into public schools.12


Likewise, a new generation of educational researchers emerged who employed the scientific techniques of social science—the systematic collection of facts for the purpose of policy formation—toward the expanding school system. These “administrative progressives” worked to bring uniformity to all urban schooling and condense the disparate local schoolhouses into a centralized, comprehensive system.13 Psychologists like William James and Edward Thorndike, drawing on the research in their newly formed field, proved that the curricular concept of “mental discipline” could not survive empirical verification. The mental discipline theory, endorsed by the Committee of Ten, posited that the “judgment” allegedly learned through the intensive study of history was transferable to other disciplines and areas of life. With this notion discounted, historians had to find new ways to justify the preeminent place of history in the curriculum at a time when social scientists demanded more space for their own subjects.14


All these factors were influential on the transition to the social studies, but three equally important conditions have been virtually ignored by curriculum historians. The first condition was the nature and qualifications of history teachers at the time. Teachers of 1916 were not offering lively, pedagogically sound instruction in history, nor were they equipped to implement the reforms being asked of them by progressive reformers. The second condition was the vigilant Americanization campaign waged during the First World War, in which the Department of Education produced materials emphasizing current events and communal thinking. The third condition, and perhaps the most important of all, was the conservative nature of the existing curriculum itself. Each will be discussed in turn.


History teachers of the day were poorly qualified by both present and contemporary standards. At the time that the CSS report was issued, the average high school teacher had between two and four years of college coursework, had little to no pedagogical training, and had been teaching less than five years. In 1916 in Wisconsin, the average length of teaching was only four years. In Pennsylvania, half of the teachers who graduated from college had taught five years or less. Half of Pennsylvania teachers who graduated from normal schools, institutions designed specifically for teacher preparation, tended to stay only two years longer. In 1917, the State Superintendent of New Hampshire reported that “[n]ot one percent of the secondary teachers of the State have ever had any professional training” and most teachers, he explained, viewed their teaching as “a fitting interlude between college and matrimony.”15 In the decade that followed, things improved slightly, but many teachers were still considered barely qualified. By 1931, only three-fifths of high school teachers reported four years of college work. E. S. Evenden complained in the National Survey of the Education of Teachers that three out of five high school teachers “barely met the generally accepted minimum amount of educational preparation expected,” and only about fifteen percent of secondary teachers held a master’s degree in their subject. Teacher shortages were exacerbated by the war because many teacher candidates joined the service or took higher-paying jobs in industry to support the war effort. In addition, teacher salaries did not keep up with wartime inflation, forcing many to take higher-paying jobs. At the time that the 1916 CSS report was issued, qualified teachers with the knowledge and skills to deliver the type of lively history instruction recommended in the Committees of Ten and Seven were few and far between.


The war had an immediate effect on curriculum as well. The subject of history had been expected to instill patriotism and inculcate American values since the nation’s founding. The efforts by the Committees of Ten and Seven to overcome this romanticism by infusing scientific history into the schools had been only partially successful. Textbooks published before 1910, according to a review by John Elbert Stout, relied almost entirely on political and military history and related a narrative of unqualified historical progress. A 1916 study of 23 American history textbooks confirmed that content was dominated by political and military history.16 This celebratory approach was reinforced during the First World War, which intensified the effort to acculturate immigrants and instill patriotism. Numerous local agencies opened up night schools for immigrants, and dozens of states organized committees on Americanization and passed Americanization laws. For example, in 1915, the State of Michigan mandated that all eighth graders “write from memory the first verse of the Star Spangled Banner and all the words to America,” and in 1918, a Texas law demanded that teachers devote at least ten minutes of each school day to developing “intelligent patriotism.”17


The effort to use the history curriculum for wartime preparation was supported by President Wilson himself. In 1917, he issued a letter urging “teachers and other school officers [to] increase materially the time and attention devoted to instruction bearing directly on the problems of community and national life.” As president, he used his influence to organize “the proper agencies” to write and distribute wartime lessons for all students.18 These wartime history and civic lessons were quickly written and made available to teachers, who were encouraged to “lay the foundations for an intelligent enthusiasm for the United States.” In 1917, a panel of professional historians convened as the National Board of Historical Service to issue a leaflet on lessons on the Great War. The leaflet contained lecture notes on ancient, medieval, Modern, English, and American history and suggested ways to approach these topics in a manner that made them relevant to the war. The board also appointed a committee, which included Albert McKinley, editor of the History Teacher Magazine, to issue a more comprehensive leaflet titled “Outline of an Emergency Course of Instruction on the War.” The leaflet demanded that the general topic of war “should form an integral part of the course of study in every grade of our public schools.” This resource offered more comprehensive and specific recommendations and even included suggested teaching methods.19


The First World War was an important context for the 1916 report, not because it was an immediate cause for the creation of the social studies, but because the war exacerbated the preexisting progressive impulses to emphasize the communal aspects of life and to organize the content of history around current issues.20 Certain professional historians, when called upon, gladly endorsed and implemented such reforms. President Wilson, who was himself a professional historian and had served on the history subcommittee of the Committee of Ten, led this effort. His request for schools to focus on “problems of community and national life,” he specifically pointed out, was a not a “plea . . . appropriate merely to the period of war” but instead was a plea “for a realization in public education of the new emphasis which the war has given to the ideals of democracy.” In other words, President Wilson intended these reforms to transform the history curriculum permanently.21


Despite these hastily implemented wartime measures, the existing history curriculum was resistant to change because of the nagging influence of the College Board (CB). College-bound students had to write entrance examination papers in subjects determined by the CB. These tests had a profound effect on course offerings. Even students at the most progressive schools, including John Dewey’s own Laboratory School at the University of Chicago, had to devote time “to making up the lacks in the consecutive study of history required by college entrance examinations.”22 In 1922, the CB appointed a commission to revisit their entrance requirements for history and civics. The commission recommended tests in ancient, European, English, and American history and rejected a separate exam in civil government, a course that had become a staple in most high schools. The CB feared that adding a civil government exam may “slight” American history, because some schools may try to combine the two. “Civics has come to mean two very different things,” the board explained. “On the one hand it is considered as the study of structure and operation of government . . . and, on the other hand, it is made an exercise in the duties and responsibilities of citizenship.” The CB insisted on the former kind of civics and preferred that it be studied in the context of American history. With this decision, the CB retained the recommendations of AHA’s Committee of Seven.23


Despite the resistance by the CB, by 1916, civics courses were an established part of the curriculum in many schools. A 1918 survey of 35 high schools in the Midwest reported that 29 of these schools offered classes in civics; these same schools had offered civics a decade before as well. A more inclusive survey conducted by Harry H. Moore in 1918 from a national sample of over 6,000 schools found that ninety-five percent of the schools offered a separate civics course. Instead of developing citizenship, these civics courses covered the “structure and operation of government” as the CB had recommended. However, certain educators were beginning to lose patience with this approach. A surveyor of the public schools of Memphis, Tennessee, complained of the “domination of the textbook” and the “ignoring of actual existing conditions” that he observed in civics classes. In 1920, the National Association of Secondary School Principles lamented how, “[a]t present, social topics have no proper claim to time. They are pushed aside and we are told that they will be taken care of by other subjects.”24


History instruction in most areas was equally dry and slow to respond to emerging calls for reform. In Memphis, according to one survey, it “amounted to little more than a memorization of the textbook, carried on without meaning to the children.” One Memphis student, when asked about the Missouri Compromise, replied, “I don’t know what it is, but I can recite it.” A surveyor of public education in Oklahoma reported that “history which should contribute to citizenship is formal and no connection with present life is made.” In Stout’s survey of the north central states, he found that “the older books are still used more or less, and some of the newer books and recent revisions of others . . . still stress the old type of material [i.e., political and military history].” In certain districts, history was still battling against classical studies for space in the curriculum. A surveyor of Wilmington, Delaware, suggested that students take more history courses in place of the required four years of Latin.25 Such studies are local and should not be overgeneralized, but they demonstrate the resiliency of the existing curriculum. They offer a balance to the enthusiastic portrayals of best-practice scenarios presented by many progressive education advocates. They also show how difficult it was (and still is) to get teachers to move beyond the memorization of material presented in textbooks.


So did historians dominate the curriculum prior to 1916? The evidence suggests that they did, but professional social scientists were beginning to exert their own influence as well. According to available surveys, the average academic-tracked high school student in 1916 was indeed taking four years of history. This generally included courses in either American, ancient, medieval, English, or general history as recommended by the Committees of Ten and Seven.26 The overall percentage of students taking history increased since the Committee of Ten, but these new courses largely replaced classes in Latin and Greek, a pattern that continued into the 1920s. These history courses, however, were taught by moderately educated, inexperienced, underqualified teachers who relied heavily on the recitation of the textbook. In addition, class offerings were always limited by the conservatism of the CB. Somewhere along the way, many students were taking a civics course as well, and this pattern began before the 1916 CSS report was ever issued. Economics, sociology, and other social sciences courses were also being offered during this time. 27


During the First World War, the Department of Education endorsed the increased emphasis on current events and communal thinking, ideas that seemed to undermine the central place of traditional history in the curriculum. Because of the war, the history curriculum would have moved in a progressive direction even if the CSS had never issued its recommendations. The shift from rugged individualism to interdependence represented a fundamental understanding of the progressive social scientists and “new” historians like James Harvey Robinson and Charles Beard. Although the war may have put an end to political progressivism, it provided an impetus for pedagogical progressivism because the U.S. Department of Education pursued goals congruent with those of the authors of the CSS report. The point is that by 1916, the “golden age” of history instruction, if it ever really existed, was eroding under larger social, political, and cultural forces.


DID EDUCATIONISTS DOMINATE THE COMMITTEE OF THE SOCIAL STUDIES?


Considering the state of history instruction described above, it is not surprising that reformers wanted to design a livelier, modernized history curriculum. In 1913, the NEA appointed the CSS to consider this task. The social studies subcommittee was part of the larger reform project, the Commission on the Reorganization of Secondary Education, whose 1918 report would be known as the Cardinal Principles. The majority of the CSS was made up of educators, including school principals and education professors. However, judging the orientation of the committee based on this list is misleading. The four most influential members of the report were Thomas Jesse Jones, Arthur Dunn, James Harvey Robinson, and John Dewey. The latter was not a consultant for the report, but Dewey’s influence, I will argue, was crucial because his words allowed the views of the other three to align. These men were trained in schools of arts and sciences, not schools of education. Their perspectives were grounded in the latest research in their respective disciplines.


Thomas Jesse Jones was a sociologist who had trained at Columbia University under the mentorship of Franklin Giddings, a proponent of Herbert Spencer’s social Darwinism. Accordingly, Jones was a Spencerian positivist who viewed schools as a form of social control. His work with Native and African Americans at the Hampton Institute in Virginia provided him with firsthand experience at acculturating minority youth to modern society through a vocational curriculum he dubbed the “social studies.” Jones’s deterministic outlook toward minorities inspired W. E. B. DuBois to dub him the “evil genius of the Negro race.” Arthur Dunn was also a sociologist who had studied under Albion Small and George Vincent at the University of Chicago, both disciples of Lester Frank Ward. Dunn had a more idealist view of society, although not necessarily the individual. Although he believed in the ability of society to improve indefinitely, he too felt that this would require certain individuals to accept their inferior position. In 1906, Dunn had authored a book entitled The Community and the Citizen that outlined many of the ideas that would later appear in the civics section of the CSS report. In the parlance of the times, both men viewed the industrializing American society as a “problem” to which educational reform was the “efficient” solution.


James Harvey Robinson was an established historian who had served on the Committee of Ten. Early in his career, Robinson shared the humanist views outlined by historians in the Committees of Ten and Seven reports, which both suggested a four-year sequence of straight history courses. However, his views about the utility of history evolved in the decades that followed. In a 1910 address to the NEA on the role of history in industrial education, Robinson introduced the idea that history teachers should not only present a disinterested account of the past, but they also should also cultivate “enthusiasm for progress which always must come with a perception of the relation of the present to the past.”28 In The New History, Robinson developed these ideas further, arguing that, if the subject was to be vital and relevant to a changing society, history would have to address economic and social issues and be tied more directly to present concerns. He shared these views with other new historians like Carl Becker and Charles Beard.


Despite their ideological and disciplinary differences, Robinson, Jones, and Dunn united around four basic understandings. First, they agreed that the present treatment of history and the social sciences did not reflect the emerging research base. For the social scientists of the group, Dunn and Jones, this research base was positivist in nature and pointed toward a more efficient, rational society. Social problems were to be identified by experts and then corrected through “scientifically” implemented solutions. Such a curriculum was meant to instill confidence in students about the ability of experts, especially in municipalities, to conduct orderly rational change. They believed that systematic reform was necessary to offset the erosion of social values brought on by industrialization and the immigration of southern and central Europeans. Robinson, on the other hand, held more idealistic views of society. Along with his friend Dewey, Robinson viewed research as pragmatic, flexible, and responsive to the emerging demands of society. In The New History, he depicted historical conclusions as “relative” and “provisional.”29 He believed in the power of historical knowledge to improve, not just control, the lives of all Americans.


Second, these men agreed that social studies content should be made more relevant to adolescents. This impulse was inspired by the influx of immigrants and the non-college-bound students into the high schools. This idea was also congruent with the Wilson’s wartime Americanization campaign. Third, they agreed that stronger connections needed to be made between the social sciences and history both to accommodate the growing interest in social sciences in schools and also to make the curriculum more “scientific” and socially efficient. Finally, like most progressive intellectuals, they recognized that the schools needed to reflect an ontological shift from emphasis on the autonomous individual to a more collective, systemic web of social existence. All these ideas came together in the work of John Dewey. 30


John Dewey began his influential educational research at the University of Chicago in 1894, where he established the University Elementary School two years later. At the laboratory school, he experimented with a type of instruction that brought “the school into closer relationship with the home and neighborhood life—instead of having the school a place where the child comes solely to learn certain lessons.” Dewey believed that education was the process by which civilization is preserved and carried forward in an evolutionary process. It provided the means by which society transmitted its accumulated, but constantly reassessed, experience to achieve “a more socialized value through the medium of increased individual efficiency.” The continual interplay between the individual, society, and disciplined knowledge is central to Dewey’s philosophy. He sought to introduce factual content into children’s lives in manner that would have immediate significance and meaning to their social lives. 31 In 1899, he published his findings in The School in Society, in which he addressed history instruction directly. He demanded that history be approached as an “indirect sociology.” Its goal should not be to amass information, but instead “to use information in constructing a vivid picture of how and why men did thus and so achieved their successes and came to their failures.” While the early years should be directed toward the child’s immediate world, historical knowledge must ultimately arrive at “a more thorough and accurate knowledge of both the principles and facts of social life [providing] . . . preparation for later more specialized historical studies.” He specified ancient, Mediterranean, European, and American history as topics of study in the upper grades—some of the same topics recommended by the Committee of Seven.32


Dewey’s writings were quoted at crucial points in the CSS report. Dewey’s call “to meet the needs of present growth” appeared as the ultimate goal of social studies education throughout the text. Such a phrase was vague enough that Jones, Dunn, and Robinson could all rally behind it by seeing their own views confirmed in these words. The goals of civics, the report explained, were designed “with reference to the pupil’s immediate needs.” Accordingly, historical topics, the CSS reported, should be selected “chiefly upon the degree to which such topics can be related to the present life interests of the pupil, or can be used by him in his present processes of growth.” Through “growth” and “present needs,” the deterministic conservatism of Jones and Dunn could be reconciled with the more liberal ideas of Robinson.33 By drawing directly on Dewey’s work, the authors of the CSS report hoped to offer a curricular compromise. By 1916, Dewey was a moderate on the continuum of educational orientations toward history instruction. A year earlier, Dewey had directly attacked narrowly defined vocational curriculum making. In Democracy and Education, also published in 1916, Dewey centered his discussion of the social studies on the subjects of geography and history, not on interdisciplinary problems or issues. In his writings, Dewey explicitly stated that growth should always be directed toward the organized bodies of disciplined knowledge. In fact, in 1930, curriculum conservative Isaac Kandel used the words of Dewey to defend the liberal arts curriculum against the encroachment of utilitarian curriculum-makers.34 Although Dewey may have been the leading spokesman for progressive education, he was not an “educationist” in the most accepted sense of the word, as a scientific curriculum designer who thought that all course objectives should be derived from the vocations of the existing world. Dewey represented the middle path between discipline-centered traditionalism, excessive student-centeredness, and narrow vocational training.


So if Dewey was not an educationist, who was? The answer is David Snedden, a professor of education who had directly attacked the utilitarian value of history. Snedden proposed that all students should be sorted into case groups based on ability level and that each group’s curriculum should be linked directly to the skills and knowledge of its “adult life performance practices.” In this matter, the curriculum would be “scientifically derived” and “socially efficient.” Because a survey of historical knowledge did not link directly with the life activities of most adult occupations, Snedden questioned the inclusion of history altogether. History, quite simply, did not meet his narrow definition of social efficiency.35 However, although Snedden was a consultant for the Teaching of Community Civics report that preceded the CSS one, he was not a standing member of the committee, and the decision to leave him off the larger committee must have been deliberate. In fact, the CSS report explained explicitly that “[a] distinction should be made between the ‘needs of present growth’ and immediate, objective utility”—the latter representing Snedden’s position.36


After its publication, the CSS report received little attention. Years later, after it became apparent that many schools were following its recommendations, the report drew criticism from all sides, which gives a good sense about its orientation. Professional social scientists and economists objected to the Problems of Democracy course, which they felt slighted their own subjects.37 Many historians feared that the “unified course” was the beginning of an inevitable slide toward further curriculum integration. For example, in her 1925 dissertation, Sister Mary Carmel McLellan offered an outright defense of the inherent value of historical study, concluding that “systematic history” had a value “outweighing that of a ‘unified course’ of social science in the curriculum of the secondary school.”38 In 1920, at their annual meeting, the AHA’s executive council refused to endorse a report issued by its own Committee on History and Education for Citizenship headed by historian Joseph Schafer. The Schafer report recommended a scope and sequence very similar to that of the CSS report, only with more emphasis on world history at the expense of European history. The rejection of this report, along with a feeling of indifference and antagonism toward the CSS report, demonstrated a general aversion to the modernization of the curriculum among conservative historians, who still exerted considerable power in the AHA.39


However, one of the biggest critics of the CSS report was not a historian at all, but in fact an educationist. This was Harold Rugg, a name that would become synonymous with the social studies when his textbooks came under attack by conservative groups in the 1930s for being anti-American.40 Like Snedden, Rugg argued that traditional content should be replaced with material of “social worth”; specifically, historical facts should be replaced with historical generalizations that could be applied immediately to social problems. For Rugg, the contents of the CSS were too conservative. He believed that report had been based on “armchair philosophy” and “the opinion and apriori judgment of a small group of specialists in subject-matter.” He saw little distinction between the CSS report and the recommendations of the Committee of Ten because both reports approached the curriculum as “piecemeal—subject by subject” without bringing themselves “to view in close juxtaposition the total American scene and the whole school curriculum,” and neither report had been based on the “measurement of results attained in current instruction.” Even the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), founded in 1921, was too moderate for Rugg. It had been “taken over by the academic professors of history,” he complained. “For several years they dominated it.”41 Indeed, the name of the newly formed organization’s journal, Historical Outlook, demonstrated the centrality of historical study to the social studies in the early years.42 Edgar Dawson, the first Secretary-Treasurer of NCSS, deliberately steered the new organization toward “moderate reform without going to radical and superficial extremes.”43 The AHA continued to fund and support Historical Outlook throughout the 1920s.


So did educationists dominate the Committee of the Social Studies? Not really. It is more accurate to conclude that progressive, education-minded social scientists and historians dominated the report. Quite simply, Jones, Dunn, and Robinson were not professors of education; each was trained in his respective discipline. By 1916, John Dewey, who was trained as a philosopher, was a widely known public intellectual who transcended the label of educationist. The true educationists, such as scientific curriculum-makers like David Snedden and Harold Rugg, were not major influences on the report. Rugg, whom many historians have depicted as the embodiment of the social studies movement, did not consider himself a descendent of the CSS report.44 In addition, certain historians like Albert McKinley, James Harvey Robinson, and Charles Beard would continue to write about school curriculum in the years to come, and these were hardly marginal historians (the latter two served as president of the AHA). The point is that in 1916, the line between educationists, historians, and social scientists was blurry; they were not monolithic groups. Indeed, there were many historians who opposed the modern ideas of CSS report, but there were also many who supported it.


DID THE SOCIAL STUDIES CONSIST OF AMALGAM CLASSES?


Exactly what about the CSS report made certain historians and social scientists so worried? Overall, it recommended only two amalgam classes, Community Civics and Problems of Democracy. Dunn’s preliminary report on The Teaching of Community Civics announced that pupils should see “the importance and significance of the elements of community welfare” and “recognize his civic obligation, present and future to respond to them by appropriate action.” This new kind of civics class was recommended in the junior high school. To continue instruction in civics in high school, the report recommended a new capstone class called Problems of American Democracy, which would draw on history and the social sciences to explore current issues like poverty and immigration. The CSS explained that the course was the “only feasible way . . . to meet the demands of the several social sciences, while maintaining due regard for the requirements of secondary education.”45 The rest of the high school curriculum would be made up of history. Specifically, the report recommended two courses in European history and a course in American history. Although the course recommendations may not have been moderate, the pedagogical recommendations offered by Robinson and the rest of the committee were more provocative.


The CSS suggested that history should be combined with the social sciences and made directly relevant to the contemporary concerns of the student. It suggested a new instructional method in which the curriculum would be constantly changing from year to year, shifting its content and emphasis to respond to the social needs of the class. The committee called this the “pedagogical interpretation” of functioning in the present. It was not enough, the committee wrote, to have history explain “present conditions and institutions”—an approach that it called the sociological interpretation—but rather history “must be related to present interests of the pupil.” To explain this point, the committee included an example of a teacher who usually skipped the War of 1812 because it was remote from student interest. However, when war broke out in Europe and America declared its neutrality, the War of 1812 suddenly became relevant to her class. So she included it in the curriculum and made comparisons to the present U.S. policy.46 This was the type of flexible curriculum that the committee recommended.


The report recommended that history be organized and delivered in a more innovative, flexible manner, but it did not attack the general aims and content of the curriculum. The historical content being transmitted by teachers was still ethnocentric, celebratory, and fact ridden. “A primary aim of instruction in American history,” the committee reported, “should be to develop a vivid conception of American nationality, a strong and intelligent patriotism, and a keen sense of the responsibility of every citizen for national efficiency.”47 Even Dewey’s approach to history could be called celebratory. In Democracy and Education, Dewey explained that students should understand that “the entire advance of humanity from savagery to civilization has been dependent upon intellectual discoveries and inventions.” 48 In this sense, the social studies approach to history did not differ much from the straight history of the Committees of Ten and Seven; students were still expected to memorize historical facts, which reformers still believed inculcated patriotism and American values. The only difference was that the historical content was now to be reconfigured in what was considered a more effective way.

 

So did the social studies consist of amalgam classes? The only real amalgam courses were the Community Civics and Problems of Democracy classes, although the report did suggest the reconfiguration of history instruction to include more economic and social elements. Nonetheless, history was still central, and the suggested surveys of European and American history were meant to be thorough and comprehensive. There was nothing in the CSS to suggest that this new approach was any less intellectual than straight history, nor were the new classes to be directed toward vocational ends. This is not to discount the innovative nature of these suggestions, which is why they were only partially adopted by schools. But the report reflected changes in course enrollments that were already taking place in many more progressive districts.


DID AMALGAM SOCIAL STUDIES COURSES REPLACE STRAIGHT HISTORY COURSES?


Once again, despite its recommendations for more progressive pedagogical approaches to history, the CSS report only recommended two amalgam classes, Community Civics and the Problems of Democracy. As demonstrated above, civics was already an established part of the curriculum prior to 1916, so implementing Community Civics was not a matter of displacing history, but rather a matter updating the existing class from one on the mechanics of American government to one on investigations in citizenship. To what degree did Problems of Democracy and other social sciences displace existing history courses? To investigate, we will have to rely mostly on available survey data.49


The first such study appeared in 1923 by Harry Moore, secretary for the National Committee for Teaching Citizenship. Moore was a clear proponent of the new brand of modern civics, a concept that he did not want to see offered just as a separate course, but also as a general approach to all social science courses. Moore surveyed over 6,000 schools across the United States. To his surprise, he discovered a slight decrease in civics offerings in the period from 1918 to 1922, but he observed increases in sociology, economics, and other social sciences like social ethics and social psychology. Many of these new courses, which were classified as “the modern type of social science” that he endorsed, seemed to be replacing civics. Moore blamed the low enrollments in “integrated” courses on the lack of appropriate textbooks.50 A 1922 survey of high schools in the northern midwestern states demonstrated both the flexibility and resiliency of the curriculum. Nearly a decade after the 1916 CSS report, ancient history was still being taught as a separate course in over half the 475 schools surveyed, and more than a quarter were still teaching English history. Less than ten percent offered general history, but as expected, American history was offered in every single school. The most popular text in use for this subject was David Muzzey’s American History—a traditional narrative account. Only 174 schools offered Community Civics in the ninth grade, and those that did most commonly used Hill’s Community Life and Civic Problems as their text. On the other hand, 418 schools offered straight civics in the senior year. The most popular civics text was Magruder’s American Government, which did not center on problems of democracy, but rather covered the mechanics of government. The author did not survey directly for the Problems of Democracy course, but assuming that textbooks provide a relatively accurate depiction of what is being taught in the class, it can be estimated that 117 of these 175 schools offered some kind of problem-centered course in the final year because the schools used Towne’s Social Problems, Ellwood’s Sociology and Social Problems, or Hill’s Community Life and Civic Problems as their text. It should be noted that the north central states constituted the most progressive region in the country when it came to school reform. The progressive social studies course offerings in this region almost certainly exceeded those of other areas. Even so, in 1922, amalgam social studies classes made up less than a third of the overall course offerings.51


By 1928, the social sciences were still battling for space in the curriculum. According to a review of state graduation requirements, social sciences, whether defined as history or social studies, was not a high priority. Although forty states required some credit in history or other social sciences, only thirty-four states demanded specific coursework in American history, and only twenty-two states specified that civics must be studied either separately or as part of an American history course. In the same year, Carl Arthur Jessen surveyed 464 schools from across the country. Out of those surveyed, a little over half required American history, only about ten percent required Community Civics, and about a quarter required advanced civics, which was basically a course in government. Over forty schools required economics, while 159 required that students take any social science they wanted. The Problems of Democracy course fared even worse than civics, with only 38 of the 464 schools requiring the class. This speaks to the conservatism of the school systems, which seemed to be willing to make small changes in course offerings but less willing to move away from traditional subject-centered courses. As expected, of all the regions Jessen surveyed, the north central states had the most rigorous social studies requirements.52


The most comprehensive review of high school subjects was published in 1938. Jessen surveyed over 14,000 schools for course offerings and enrollments for the 1933–1934 school year. The survey discovered that American history “has been holding its own,” English history had been largely eliminated, and two-year sequences in foreign history had largely been replaced by a single course in world history. Community Civics had made considerable gains; enrollments were now double those of civil government. Another observed trend was the growing popularity of Problems of Democracy, which had replaced many individual courses in sociology, economics, and civil government.53


Course enrollments and offerings only tell part of the story, since these poorly qualified teachers were often dependent on the textbook. The textbooks themselves may provide a better idea about the actual content of these classes. In 1939, at the high-water mark of progressive reforms, Wilber Murra conducted a comprehensive review of available social studies textbooks. For junior high, there were forty-three texts for American history. These titles ranged from traditional content, such as D. H. Montgomery’s The Leading Facts of American History, which had gone through ten reprintings, to more progressive-oriented ones, like Henry L. Smith’s Socialized History of the United States. For civics, educators could choose from thirty-three different texts—some offering progressive approaches, such as Arthur Dondineau’s Civics through Problems, and more traditional fare, like Clyde Moore’s Our American Citizenship. Although the overwhelming majority of these junior high school texts were subject centered, there were three “fusion” texts from which educators could choose, including books from the popular Harold Rugg series.


High school texts were more varied. Twenty-five American history texts were available that employed a straight chronological approach. There were forty-three world history texts available, including narratives authored or coauthored by leading new historians like Carl Becker, Charles Beard, and James Harvey Robinson. In the 1922 survey of midwestern schools cited above, Robinson and Breasted’s History of Europe was the most widely used text for world history [sic]. Five English history accounts were still in circulation, demonstrating that this course had indeed fallen out of favor. Fourteen high school geography textbooks were available, including some with progressive titles such as Rational Economic Geography and Modern Business Geography. These titles reveal the desire to retain the core subject under investigation while making disciplinary connections to other social sciences. The modern social sciences continued to become more popular since the 1916 CSS report; there were twenty-six economics and eighteen sociology texts in publication. Some of these, such as Charles Ellwood’s Social Problems and Sociology, could be used in a Problems of Democracy course. Yet despite the effort to center instruction on issues and problems instead of subjects, there were only eight available senior-year texts that directly addressed Problems of Democracy. On the other hand, fifteen texts offered straight-ahead accounts of American government. 54


Overall, the amalgam social studies classes had made considerable gains in the curriculum in the two decades following the CSS report. But when we step back and look at the overall curriculum, a few significant observations emerge. First, straight history had retained its prominence in the social studies throughout these years. In his analysis of the 1933–1934 data, Jessen observed that American history was the most popular social studies course; “six-sevenths of the potential registration is taking the subject.” This course had never been amalgamated, other than covering civil government, a recommendation made by both the AHA’s Committee of Seven and the CB. The most popular textbooks in American history were always traditional narrative accounts. The second most popular social studies courses, according to Jessen, were surveys in foreign history, usually world history, and once again, these courses were never amalgamated. The third most popular courses were those in community government, and many of these classes just covered the mechanics of the constitution. Nevertheless, Problems of Democracy, the course opponents of the social studies most feared, had become of the most prominent class for seniors in only thirteen states, although Jessen identified it as “one of the most rapidly growing subjects in the high-school.” Overall, Jessen reported, “[o]ne half of the registrations are in history, one fifth in civics, and somewhat less than one-fourth in other social studies.” History retained its central place in the curriculum throughout the 1930s.55  


So did amalgam social studies courses replace straight history courses? Not really. The four-year history sequence was generally scaled back to a three-year sequence during these years, but history was never replaced as the most prominent subject in the social studies. The resiliency of history is even more remarkable when considered against the backdrop of the Great Depression, a time when radicals like Beard and Rugg were recommending a curriculum centered on more relevant material, such as the problems of capitalism. In addition, many high schools were expected to expand their holding power to keep adolescents out of the highly competitive labor market .56 In the end, the biggest threat to history courses was not the amalgam courses, but actually the straight classes in social sciences. Ironically, the amalgam classes actually solidified the place of history in the curriculum because Community Civics and Problems of Democracy deflected and absorbed the encroachment of the social sciences, subjects that had been gaining popularity during 1910s and 1920s at the expense of history. Therefore, the biggest loser during these years was not traditional history, but in fact the straight social sciences like economics, sociology and, most of all, civil government. Therefore, the Problems of Democracy and Community Civics courses amalgamated the social sciences but left history largely unscathed.


CONCLUSION


So why did history retain its central place in the social studies curriculum during the interwar years? It did so for several reasons. First, professional historians must be given some credit for resisting the encroachment of social sciences and for defending the inherent value of traditional straight history. Had the AHA endorsed the CSS or Shafer reports, history would likely have experienced even greater reform in the 1920s and 1930s. Second, professional historians continued to dominate the writing of school textbooks. Fusion or amalgamated textbooks were never widely available to teachers because there were not many authors with the ambition, knowledge, and/or skill of a Harold Rugg to write them. In fact, the first textbook appropriate for the Problems of Democracy course did not appear until 1922.57 Because professional historians had the expertise, publishers by and large continued to rely on them to produce course materials for history.


Third, teachers were not very qualified during this period. The pedagogical demands of the shifting, responsive curriculum recommended by the CSS were too difficult for teachers to implement, most of whom barely met the minimum requirements. In addition, teachers of the 1920s and 1930s would have likely experienced what we now call “the apprentice of observation.” Having experienced and observed years of traditional history instruction in their secondary and higher education, new teachers would likely have unconsciously or consciously emulated how they themselves were taught. Accordingly, new teachers would have chosen textbooks similar to the ones that they had used during their own studies. Finally, contrary to the conventional view, the CSS report should be given its own credit for retaining history at the core of the social studies. In 1916, traditional history was under attack from many angles. During the 1910s, courses in social science had gained more enrollments in less time than history had done the previous two decades. In addition, true educationists like Snedden and Rugg were directly attacking the social value of traditional history instruction. In light of this, the moderate nature of the CSS report should be recognized for protecting history during these years, not eroding it.


In recent decades, professional historians have made commendable efforts to improve the teaching of history in American schools. Much of this work, unfortunately, has been based on the erroneous contention that social studies educators have been, and still are, enemies of the history curriculum. Like historians, social studies educators have been, and continue to be, a diverse lot. While some social studies advocates indeed promote more radical issue-based instruction, most social studies professors are moderate reformers who, like historians, want to see history instruction strengthened and enlightened in American schools.58 My hope is that the recent resurgence of interest in the teaching of history will bring the professional historians and social studies professors closer together rather than push them further apart. While much of this history of the social studies is in dispute, one thing is certain: somewhere along the way, historians and social studies educators began to view each other as adversaries. I hope that the renewed interest in strengthening history education in American schools will be approached through a spirit of reconciliation. Perhaps the content in this article will contribute to this process.


Acknowledgments

 

I would like to thank Johann Neem, Victoria Fantozzi, Michael Whelan, and the anonymous reviewers for their feedback and comments on earlier drafts of this article. This research was supported by a faculty development grant awarded by the University of Mary Washington.


Notes

1. See, for example, David Pace, “The Amateur in the Operating Room: History and Scholarship of Teaching and Learning,” American Historical Review 109, no. 2 (2004): 1171–92, which virtually ignores research done by social studies educators. For direct attacks against social studies educators, see Robert Orrill and Linn Shapiro, “Forum Essay: From Bold Beginnings to an Uncertain Future: The Discipline of History and History Education,” The American Historical Review 110 (2005), http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/ahr/110.3/orrill.html; Diane Ravitch and Chester Finn, What Do Our 17-Year-Olds Know: A Report on the First National Assessment of History and Literature (New York: Harper and Row, 1987); Paul Gagnon, ed., Historical Literacy: The Case for History in American Education (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989); and Diane Ravitch, “Who Prepares Our History Teachers? Who Should Prepare Our History Teachers?” The History Teacher 31, no. 3 (1998): 495–503.

2. Diane Ravitch, The Schools We Deserve: Reflections on the Educational Crisis of Our Times (New York: Basic Books, 1985), 124.

3. Peter Novick, That Noble Dream: The “Objectivity Question” and the American Historical Profession (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 188.

4. Orrill and Shapiro, “Forum Essay,” 9.

5. Joseph Moreau, Schoolbook Nation: Conflicts over American History Textbooks from the Civil War to the Present (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2003), 203.

6. David Cohen, “Origins,” in The Shopping Mall High School: Winners and Losers in the Educational Marketplace, ed. Arthur G. Powell, Eleanor Farrar, and David K. Cohen (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1985), 251. See also Ravitch, The Schools We Deserve, 127.

7. E. D. Hirsch, Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987), 123. Hirsch conflates the Cardinal Principles with the contents of the CSS report. His quotation was taken from the former, but it is misleadingly presented as if it were taken from the latter.

8. Patricia Albjerg Graham, Schooling America: How the Public Schools Meet the Nation’s Changing Needs (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 65.

9. Gary B. Nash, Charlotte Crabtree, and Ross E. Dunn, History on Trial: Culture Wars and Teaching the Past (New York: Vintage, 1997), 37.

10. See Edward Krug, The Shaping of the American High School 1880–1920 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1964); Ray Hiner, “Professionals in Progress: Changing Relations between Historians and Educators, 1896–1911,” History of Education Quarterly 12, no. 1 (1972): 34–56, and “Professionals in Progress: Changing Relations among Social Scientists, Historians and Educators, 1880-1920,” The History Teacher 6, no. 2 (1973): 201–18; Hazel W. Hertzberg, Social Studies Reform 1880–1980 (Boulder, CO: Social Science Educational Consortium, 1981) and “History and Progressivism: A Century of Reform Proposals,” in Historical Literacy: The Case for History in American Education, ed. Paul Gagnon and the Bradley Commission on History in Schools (New York: Macmillan, 1989), 69–99; and Julie Reuben, “Beyond Politics: Community Civics and the Redefinition of Citizenship in the Progressive Era,” History of Education Quarterly 37, no. 4 (1997): 399–420. For a rationale for moving beyond the “great men and their ideas” approach, see Christine Woyshner, “Notes toward a Historiography of the Social Studies: Recent Scholarship and Future Directions,” in Research Methods in Social Studies Education: Issues and Perspectives, ed. Keith Barton (Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing, 2006), 11–39.

11. Orrill and Shapiro, “Forum Essay,” 2.

12. Hertzberg, Social Studies Reform 1880–1980, 4–8, 19–22; Thomas L. Haskell, The Emergence of Professional Social Science (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1991).

13. David Tyack, The One Best System: A History of American Urban Education (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1974).

14. David Tyack and Elizabeth Hansot, Mangers of Virtue: Public School Leadership in America,1820–1980 (New York: Basic Books, 1982), 120; Herbert Kliebard, The Struggle for the American Curriculum 1893–1958, 2nd ed. (New York: Routledge, 1995), 4–7; Daniel Tanner and Laurel Tanner, History of The School Curriculum (New York: Macmillan, 1990), 174–47.

15. Thomas H. Briggs, “Secondary Education,” in Biennial Survey of Education 1916–18, Vol. 1, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Education, Bulletin 1918, No. 88 (Washington, DC, 1921), 203. E. D. Evenden, National Survey of the Education of Teachers: Volume VI: Summary and Interpretation, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Education, Bulletin 1918, No. 88 (Washington, DC, 1935), 46.

16. William C. Bagley and Harold O. Rugg, “The Content of American History as Taught in the Seventh and Eight Grades,” Bulletin No. 16 (Urbana: University of Illinois, 1916), 59; John Elbert Stout, The Development of High School Curricula in the North Central States from 1980 to 1918, Supplementary Educational Monographs, No. 15 (New York: Arno Press, 1969), 174–81.

17. William R. Hood, comp., State Laws Relating to Education: Enacted in 1915, 1916, and 1917, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Education, Bulletin 1918, No. 23 (Washington, DC, 1919), 164; “Americanization through Education,” in Report of the Commissioner of Education for The Year Ended June 30, 1918, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Education (Washington, DC, 1918), 42–49.

18. Woodrow Wilson, Letter of the President, Lessons in Community and National Life, Series A, for the Upper Classes of High School, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Education in Cooperation with the United States Food Administration (Washington, DC, 1918), 5.

19. Ibid., 7. National Board for Historical Service, Opportunities for History Teachers: Lessons of the Great War in the Classroom, Teacher’s Leaflet No. 1, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Education (Washington, DC, 1917); Charles A. Coulomb, Armand J. Gerson, and Albert E. McKinley, preparers, Under the Direction of the National Board for Historical Service, Outline of a Course of Instruction on the War, Teacher’s Leaflet No. 4, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Education (Washington, DC, 1918), 5.

20. In his highly regarded 1935 text, The Social Ideas of American Educators, Merle Curti argues that the origin of the social studies was partly a result of war enthusiasm over current issues and problems and used as a means “of realizing the social and democratic function of the schools” (348).

21. Wilson, Lessons in Community, 5.

22. Katherine Camp Mayhew and Anna Camp Edwards, “The Dewey School: The Laboratory School of the University of Chicago, 1896–1903,” in Sources: Notable Selections in Education, ed. Fred Schultz (Guildford, CT: Dushkin Publishing, 1995), 50.

23. CB report quoted in Edgar Dawson, “The Social Studies in Civic Education,” in Biennial Survey of Education, 1920–1922, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Education (Washington, DC, 1924), 407–08.

24. George Van Dyke, “Trends in the Development of High-School Offering II,” The School Review 39 (December 1931): 741; Stout, The Development of High School Curricula; Harry H. Moore, Status of Certain Social Studies in High Schools, Bulletin 1922, No. 45, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Education (Washington, DC, 1923), 3; An Abstract of the Report on the Public School System of Memphis, Tennessee, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Education (Washington, DC, 1919), 15; National Association of Secondary School Principles quotation taken from Dawson, “The Social Studies,” 417.

25. An Abstract of the Report on the Public School System of Memphis, Tennessee, 15; Survey of Public Education in Oklahoma, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Education (Washington, DC, 1922), 260; Stout, The Development of High School Curricula, 244; Survey of the Schools of Wilmington, Delaware, Part II, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Education (Washington, DC, 1921), 79.

26. See Edgar Bruce Wesley, Teaching the Social Studies, 2nd ed. (Boston: DC Heath, 1937), 181.

27. See data presented in Van Dyke, “Trends in the Development of High School Offering,” and Dawson, “The Social Studies in Civic Education.” It should be noted that professional historians dominated the writing of history textbooks during this time and throughout the rest of the century.

28. Quoted in Luther V. Hendricks, James Harvey Robinson: Teacher of History (New York: King’s Crown Press, 1946), 37. In this work, the author conducted what must have been very superficial interviews with important educational reformers such as Thomas Jesse Jones and Henry Johnson—an unfortunate lost opportunity for perspective on the early years of the social studies.

29. Novick, That Noble Dream, 105.

30. This section offers a synthesis of the following: Michael Bruce Lybarger, “The Political Context of the Social Studies: Creating a Constituency for Municipal League,” Theory and Research in Social Education 8, no. 4 (1980): 1–28, and “Origins of the Modern Social Studies 1900-1916,” History of Education Quarterly 23, no. 4 (1983): 455–68; Samuel Shermis and James Barth, “The Function of Problem Solving in the History of the Social Studies Movement,” Indiana Social Studies Quarterly 38 (Winter 1985–1986): 17–38; James Barth and Samuel Shermis, “Nineteenth Century Origins of the Social Studies Movement: Understanding the Continuity between Older and Contemporary Civic and U.S. History Textbooks,” Theory and Research in Social Education 8, no. 4 (1980): 29–50; David Warren Saxe, “An Introduction to the Seminal Social Welfare and Efficiency Prototype,” Theory and Research in Social Education 20, no. 2 (1992): 156–78, and “Framing a Theory for Social Studies Foundations,” Review of Educational Research 62 (Fall 1992): 259–77; Michael Whelan, “James Harvey Robinson, the New History and the 1916 Social Studies Committee,” History Teacher 24, no. 2 (1991): 191–202; Herbert Kliebard, Changing Course: American Curriculum Reform in the 20th Century (New York, 1993); William H. Watkins, “Thomas Jesse Jones, Social Studies, and Race,” International Journal of Social Studies Education 10 (Fall/Winter 1995–1996): 124–34.

31. Quoted in Frederick Eby and Charles Flinn Arrowood, The Development of Modern Education: In Theory, Organization, and Practice (New York: Prentice Hall, 1936), 855–78.

32. John Dewey, The Child and the Curriculum and The School and Society, 10th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969) 151, 158–59.

33. The Social Studies in Secondary Education, Bulletin No. 28, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Education, Bulletin 1916, No. 28 (Washington, DC, 1916), 34, 44.

34. Isaac Kandel, History of Secondary Education: A Study in the Development of Liberal Education (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1930), 539.

35. Kliebard, The Struggle for the American Curriculum, 95–98; David Warren Saxe, Social Studies in Schools: A History of the Early Years (Albany: State University of New York, 1991), 14–15.

36. Saxe, Social Studies in Schools, 11.

37. For reactions to the report by disciplinary specialists, see Edgar Dawson, “Efforts toward Reorganization,” Historical Outlook 20, no. 12 (December 1929), 375.

38. Sister Mary Carmel McLellan, The Evolution and Evaluation of the History Curriculum of the Secondary School (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Cincinnati, 1925), 88, 89, 122.

39. Hertzberg, Social Studies Reform, 30–32; Hiner, “Professions in Process,” 216–17.

40. See Chapter 6 in Joseph Moreau, Schoolbook Nation.

41. Harold O. Rugg, “How Shall We Reconstruct the Social Studies Curriculum?” The Historical Outlook 12 (May 1921): 184–89; Rugg, “A Century of Curriculum-Construction in American Schools,” in Making Past and Present: The 26th Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education (Bloomington, IL: Public School Publishing Company, 1933), 39, 50, 62; Rugg, Foundations for American Education (Yonkers-on-Hudson, NY: World Book Company, 1947), 575n. See also Earl Rugg, “How the Current Courses in History, Geography, and Civics Came to Be What They Are,” in Social Studies in the Elementary and Secondary School: 22nd Yearbook for the National Society for the Study of Education (Bloomington, IL: Public School Publishing Company, 1923): 48–75. Harold’s brother offers a similar assessment of the CSS report.

42. Under the editorship of historian Albert McKinley, Historical Outlook changed its name from the History Teachers Magazine. In the 1930s, it would change its name again to The Social Studies.

43. Dawson, “Social Studies in Civic Education,” 412.

44. Besides Moreau (mentioned in the introduction), in Whose America? Culture Wars in Public Schools (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), Jonathan Zimmerman links Rugg directly to the social studies movement, which, he asserts, “steadily replaced history courses” (p. 66).

45. The Teaching of Community Civics, Bulletin No. 23 (Washington, DC, 1915), 11; Social Studies in Secondary Education, 55.

46. Social Studies in Secondary Education, 43–47.

47. Ibid., 39.

48.  John Dewey, Democracy and Education (New York: Free Press, 1916), 213–14, 217–18.

49. Amalgam social studies classes made considerable headway in the elementary curriculum during this period, but the justifications for these reforms went far beyond the CSS report. Herbartian “correlation” of subject matter, the emerging psychological research (i.e., ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny), Dewey’s lectures on his Laboratory School, the research of Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget, and grassroots reforms for humanizing elementary education all contributed to the “expanding horizons” sequence that dominated elementary social studies for most of the twentieth century. See Leo W. LeRiche, “Expanding Horizons Sequence in Elementary Social Studies: The Origins,” Theory and Research in Social Education 15, no. 3 (1987): 137–54; James E. Akenson, “Historical Factors in the Development of Elementary Social Studies: Focus on Expanding Environments,” Theory and Research in Social Education 15 no. 3 (1987): 155–71.

50. Moore, Status of Certain Social Studies, 2, 17.

51. Walter S. Monroe and I. O. Foster, The Status of the Social Sciences in the High Schools of the North Central Association, Bureau of Educational Research College of Education (Urbana: University of Illinois, 1922).

52. Carl Arthur Jessen, Requirements for High School Graduation, U.S. Bureau of Education, Bulletin No. 21 (Washington, DC, 1928).

53. Carl A. Jessen, Offerings and Registrations in High-School Subjects, 1933–34, Bulletin No. 6 (Washington, DC, 1938).

54. Wilber Murra, Bibliography of Text-books in the Social Studies for Elementary and Secondary Schools (Cambridge, MA: NCSS, 1939).

55. Jessen, Offerings and Registrations, 15, 6, 17.

56. See Charles Beard, A Charter for the Social Sciences in the Schools (New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1932). On the custodial objectives of schools in the 1930s, see David Angus and Jeffrey Mirel, The Failed Promise of the American High School 1890–1995 (New York: Teachers College Press, 1999).

57. Rolla M. Tyron, “Thirteen Years of Problems of Democracy,” Historical Outlook 20, no. 12 (December 1929), 382.

58. See Keith Barton and Linda Levstik, Teaching History for the Common Good (Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2004); and H. G. Grant, History Lessons: Teaching, Learning, and Testing in U.S. High School Classrooms (Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2003). For a specific discussion of how social studies professors can work with historians, see Thomas Fallace and Johann Neem, “Historiographical Thinking: Towards a New Approach to Preparing History Teachers,” Theory and Research in Social Education 33, no. 3 (2005): 329–46.





Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 110 Number 10, 2008, p. 2245-2270
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15193, Date Accessed: 11/26/2021 7:12:34 PM

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About the Author
  • Thomas Fallace
    University of Mary Washington
    E-mail Author
    THOMAS D. FALLACE is an assistant professor of education at the University of Mary Washington and a lecturer at the University of Virginia. He teaches elementary and secondary social studies methods courses, and works with student teachers. He has written articles on the history of Holocaust education, the role of historiography in history teacher education, and the origins of the social studies. His is the author of The Emergence of Holocaust Education in American Schools (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming).
 
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