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Essential Documents in the History of American Higher Education

, 384 pages

2 halftones, 3 line drawings

April 2014



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Essential Documents in the History of American Higher Education

Table of Contents

John R. Thelin’s A History of American Higher Education has become a standard in higher education studies. Designed to be used alongside this groundbreaking book or on its own, Essential Documents in the History of American Higher Education presents primary sources that chart the social, intellectual, political, and cultural history of American colleges and universities from the seventeenth century to the present. Documents are organized in sections that parallel the chapters in the first book both chronologically and thematically. Thelin introduces sections with brief headnotes establishing the context for each source.

In addition to such landmark documents as the charter for the College of Rhode Island (1764), the Morrill Land Grand Act (1862), the GI Bill (1944), and the Knight Commission Report on College Sports (2010), Thelin includes lively firsthand accounts by students and teachers that tell what it was like to be a Harvard student in the 1700s, to participate in the campus riots of the 1960s, to be a female college athlete in the 1970s, or to enroll at UCLA as a economically disadvantaged Latina in the 1990s.

Thelin also includes pieces by popular writers such as Robert Benchley and James Thurber on their own college days, as well as an excerpt from Groucho Marx’s screwball film Horse Feathers that help illustrate how ingrained college life has become in American pop culture.

Reflecting the richness of three centuries of American higher education, this complex and nuanced collection will be an essential resource for students of the history of education.

John R. Thelin is University Research Professor and a member of the Educational Policy Studies Department at the University of Kentucky. His many books include A History of American Higher Education and Games Colleges Play: Scandal and Reform in Intercollegiate Athletics, both published by Johns Hopkins.

"John Thelin is the ideal scholar to create this volume of documents, and not only because his careful scholarship in creating A History has given him a depth that few other senior scholars possess. He is also an acute scholar of archival issues, as is apparent in the introduction to this book and in his short introductions to each of the documents. By commenting on the template of questions he employs in reviewing each document, he demonstrates—and teaches his readers—a thoughtful approach to assessing and analyzing documentary materials. His own writing about those archival issues (cited in the new volume) is a testament to his leadership in helping our field assess its status and the issues surrounding documentation."

"The history of American higher education has been shaped by a great number and variety of actors and influences, each of which is ably represented and explained in Thelin’s compendium of Essential Documents. The volume is more than a handy reference guide for the library’s or the professor’s bookshelf, but is a wonderful teaching tool, employing a wide lens, to help develop those studying and writing about the history of American colleges and universities to gain a more complete understanding of these important institutions."

"For those with an interest in higher education, whether a graduate student, a researcher, or a faculty member, this is a fascinating book... The work provides a wealth of useful information that will find regular use in academic libraries. It is highly recommended."

"John Thelin's taste in making these selections reflects his extraordinary grasp of American higher education."

"The primary purpose of this collection is to provide illustrative material for the readers of the textbook, but because of the nature of the documents, the books is of interest in its own right."

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