NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED568529
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 239
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3038-5576-4
Debating the Study of the Past: A Historical Analysis of American History Curriculum and Instruction between 1890 and 1920
Galligan, Mark N.
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, Northeastern University
This paper presents the research design, rationale, and the results of a historical document-based research project to answer the following two-part question: How do popular and dominant political, social, and economic forces affect the creation and delivery of American history curriculum in public schools between 1890 and 1920 and how is this history significant in today's public schools? This document-based research study employed historical research methods to analyze the discourse between scholars in history and practitioners in education around the formation and delivery of curriculum in American history. A theory of historical understanding was utilized as a framework for guiding analysis of the documents and forming conclusions about the nature and delivery of American history curriculum. The archives of the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Historical Association (AHA) were particularly scrutinized, as these were the premier professional associations of their day. In addition to these archives, three documentary sources from the time period were analyzed to compromise four distinct conversations between educators and historians. Through an analysis of the documentary record, the following three themes which became the principal findings emerged: 1. American history has been taught to inculcate patriotism is a celebration of American democratic institutions. 2. American history has been viewed as an essential course of study for entrance to college and has been a way to imbue students with other higher-order thinking skills (i.e. the ability to read complex texts, analyze historical literature, evaluate source materials, create an original argument/thesis from historical records). 3. American history has been used to teach lessons in morality and character-building. The chief findings were also the following: despite a powerful central decision making authority (tantamount to today's Federal Department of Education), there was widespread cohesion and similarities between programs of study and curriculum in American history throughout the United States. Informed discussions between and within the NEA and the AHA suggest that historians and educators at the administrative level worked to maintain that cohesion and to guard it against outside political influences, although they were rarely successful. Owing to its proximity to research universities, the Boston Public Schools was the site of many of these curricular innovations and fell victim to tendencies to teach American history in order to nationalize immigrants and inculcate a sense of American-style democratic traditions. The discussions between the NEA and the AHA have been under-researched, yet an analysis of their work informs both scholars in history and education practitioners today. In the modern day, under the pressures of federal educational initiatives such as No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and other funding initiatives, not to mention the testing and accountability movements, it is more important than ever to maintain informed communication between professionals in history and educators in order to perpetuate the teaching of American history. Many of today's public schools include a goal or mission statement that involves a civic or social mandate. In that light, American history gains increasing importance in an already crowded curriculum and thus an understanding of how this curriculum is shaped and delivered becomes an imperative. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Massachusetts (Boston)