Biographical Dictionary of Modern American Educators

Biographical Dictionary of Modern American Educators

Biographical Dictionary of Modern American Educators

Biographical Dictionary of Modern American Educators


Widely praised, Greenwood's Biographical Dictionary of American Educators (Greenwood, 1978) quickly became a standard reference work for students and scholars of American education. This new volume includes biographical sketches of more than 400 notable researchers, leaders, reformers, critics, and practitioners from all major fields of education and extends the coverage of its predecessor to the mid-20th century. Its topical range encompasses such diverse areas as psychology, music, health, measurement and evaluation, science, special education, history, and administration. It treats education at all levels, including early childhood, elementary and secondary, higher, and adult. Most of the educators profiled were active in the 20th century, but several dozen have been included from the 19th century. A special effort has been made to include women and educators of color whose contributions have often been overlooked in the past.


The Biographical Dictionary of Modern American Educators continues the Biographical Dictionary of American Educators, whichJohn F. Ohles edited and Greenwood Press published in 1978. the subject of the Dictionary is persons who marked education in the United States. By marking education, we mean that their work changed it in more than the common ways that the teaching, scholarship, service, and opinions of innumerable excellent members of the profession enrich the educational community.

By design, we have chosen to sketch a diverse group of educators. They represent all fifty states, they worked in many different areas within education broadly conceived, and they had a wide variety of backgrounds. We have not limited our sketches to eminent or famous persons. Some of the educators sketched here did not have distinguished reputations or achieve prominence in their lifetimes, nor have they always figured conspicuously in historical accounts since, but each of them made a distinctive contribution to a facet of education in this country.

The results may sometimes seem surprising. the originator of driver education, Amos Neyhart, is included, although his name is hardly familiar. Several well-remembered popular pundits, culture mavens, and citizens of the airwaves from his generation are excluded, although they were more famous. Neyhart contributed a notable change in the curriculum of secondary schools that drew unfavorable comment from Jacques Barzun, also sketched here. Neyhart's better-known contemporaries shaped public opinion but did not necessarily mark education. Yet we have included some critics, such as Barzun, by the same standard, because they changed opinions about education, and more important, they affected educational practice.

There was a time when college presidents and school superintendents were educators by definition, but since the middle decades of the twentieth century they have often been either managers or public personalities instead. Rising high in an educational bureaucracy or becoming well known in the nation or in a state has not in itself persuaded us to include someone in the Dictionary. Nor have we thought we should acknowledge fame in another field coupled with a tangential connection to education. We have not been tempted to imitate the national hamburger restaurant chain that put "great American teachers" on its paper place mats a decade ago. For this honor the kings of the burger realm . . .

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