Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

The History of American Higher Education

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

The History of American Higher Education

Article excerpt

The History of American Higher Education. By Roger L. Geiger. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015, Pp. xviii, 564. $35.00.)

Roger L. Geiger, distinguished professor of higher education at Pennsylvania State University, has written a work that promises to be definitive. This encyclopedic book is as readable as it is thorough, drawing upon voluminous monographs and articles. No pedantic study, it places the history of colleges and universities in the context of broader political, economic, and social trends, the author always showing a firm grasp of the general American narrative.

The book is worthy of a review-essay such as found in The New York Review of Books and of necessity this critique must be brief. Geiger starts with the colonial and revolutionary eras, then shows the positive impact of the Second Great Awakening and of the Morrill Act of 1862, which established land-grant institutions for many states. He traces the development of graduate education and such professional schools as law, business, and medicine during the Gilded Age and Progressive era Particularly fascinating is his treatment of the "collegiate revolution" that peaked in the 1920s, during which athleticism, extracurricular activities, and Greek-letter societies dominated the life of the pervasive "gentleman scholars." Geiger does much with the religious founding of many institutions, beginning with Harvard College in 1636 and manifesting itself with greatest intensity from 1820 to 1840. Though the great wave of church-related colleges subsided by the time of the Civil War, the interdenominational Young Men's Christian Association played a crucial role in an increasingly secular academe, joining a traditional religiosity to a collegiate version of "muscular Christianity. …

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