Cover image for Historical dictionary of American education
Historical dictionary of American education
Altenbaugh, Richard J.
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xvi, 499 pages ; 25 cm
Added Author:
Format :


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LB15 .H57 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

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The history of American education is a vital and productive field of study. This reference book provides factual information about eminent people and important topics related to the development of American public, private, and parochial schools, covering elementary and secondary levels. In addition to major state and regional leaders and reformers, it includes biographies of significant national educators, philosophers, psychologists, and writers. Subjects embrace important ideas, events, institutions, agencies, and pedagogical trends that profoundly shaped American policies and perceptions regarding education. The more than 350 entries are arranged alphabetically and written by expert contributors. Each entry closes with a brief bibliography, and the volume ends with a list of works for further reading.

Entries were drawn from a review of leading history of education textbooks and the History of Education Quarterly. These topics were further refined by comments from leading authorities and the contributors. Most of the contributors are established scholars in the history of education, curriculum and instruction, school law, educational administration, and American history; a few also work as public and private school teachers and thus bring their practical experience to their entries. The period covered begins in the colonial period and continues through the 1990s.

Author Notes

RICHARD J. ALTENBAUGH is Associate Professor of Education at Slippery Rock University, where he specializes in the history of education. He is the author of three books, and his articles have appeared in such journals as History of Education Quarterly , Urban Education , and Cambridge Journal of Education .

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

According to the preface, this volume supplements other more-specialized Greenwood titles, including The Encyclopedia of African-American Education [RBB D 15 96], Historical Dictionary of Women's Education in the United States [RBB N 15 98], and Women Educators in the United States (1994). Here, the 357 entries focus on breadth to give an overall portrayal of events and issues. They are arranged in alphabetical order and range from the colonial era through the 1990s. Among the 130 contributors are professors, graduate students, academic librarians, and schoolteachers. The preface gives the editor's selection criteria, which were derived from indexes of leading history-of-education textbooks, 30 years of back issues of the History of Education Quarterly, and discussion with an advisory committee. Entries cover individuals, issues, movements, court cases, theories, organizations, institutions, and more. Each entry contains abundant cross-references, with asterisks referring to main entries. The meaning of these asterisks is buried in the preface and would better serve the reader as a usage note nearer to the entries. Most entries have references to other sources, which receive full bibliographical treatment in the selected bibliography at the end of the book. The index is generally accurate, but occasional minor errors were found; for example, Kate Douglas Wiggin is mentioned on page 145 and not on the indicated page 144, and the New School for Social Research is on page 108, not page 107. In his preface, the editor predicts that critics of the work will no doubt find some important topics not covered, and his prediction is accurate. Although progressive education is widely discussed, the Little Red Schoolhouse in New York City is mentioned only in passing, and Bank Street College of Education and Lucy Sprague Mitchell are omitted entirely. Also missing are ERIC (Educational Resources Information Center), child development as a main entry, grading practices, and homework, to mention some of the areas that are at the heart of educational history. Children's literature and magazines are given short shrift, and it would have been helpful to have a linguistics entry that includes Ebonics. Some of the omissions can be explained by the fact that the editor did not want to duplicate the coverage in the other Greenwood volumes. For example, individuals conspicuous by their absence, including E. D. Hirsch of Cultural Literacy fame and John Holt, can be found in Biographical Dictionary of Modern American Educators [RBB Ja 1 & 15 98]. In spite of the shortcomings noted, this work is highly recommended. Its strengths are readability and wide coverage of topics related to educational theory or practice in the U.S. It would be a wise choice for education, academic, and large public libraries as a complement to Facts On File's three-volume Encyclopedia of American Education [RBB N 15 96] as well as to the other Greenwood titles.

Choice Review

Reducing a subject encyclopedia about the foundations and history of education to 500 pages is necessarily a selective process. Altenbaugh's volume, complementing others published by Greenwood (Jeffrey A. Raffel's Historical Dictionary of School Segregation and Desegregation, CH, Mar'99; Historical Dictionary of Women's Education in the United States, ed. by Linda Eisenmann, CH, Dec'98; and Encyclopedia of African American Education, ed. by Faustine Jones-Wilson, CH, Feb'97), together cover education well. It relies on the contributions of some 130 scholars for its more than 350 entries, which introduce key issues/topics, biographies, educational associations, and court cases in brief signed essays that define the major events and elements of US education, omitting higher education. Each essay is followed by a bibliography of reading suggestions. The general bibliography at the end makes a useful checklist. An index and cross-references map relationships among entries. Although this work makes a useful starting point for students of education, Encyclopedia of American Education (3v., 1996) covers Altenbaugh's entries in greater detail. Recommended for comprehensive collections. H. M. Lowry; La Sierra University

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