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American College and University

A History

Frederick Rudolph

Publication Year: 1990

First published in 1962, Frederick Rudolph's groundbreaking study, The American College and University, remains one of the most useful and significant works on the history of higher education in America. Bridging the chasm between educational and social history, this book was one of the first to examine developments in higher education in the context of the social, economic, and political forces that were shaping the nation at large.

Surveying higher education from the colonial era through the mid-twentieth century, Rudolph explores a multitude of issues from the financing of institutions and the development of curriculum to the education of women and blacks, the rise of college athletics, and the complexities of student life. In his foreword to this new edition, John Thelin assesses the impact that Rudolph's work has had on higher education studies. The new edition also includes a bibliographic essay by Thelin covering significant works in the field that have appeared since the publication of the first edition.

At a time when our educational system as a whole is under intense scrutiny, Rudolph's seminal work offers an important historical perspective on the development of higher education in the United States.

Published by: University of Georgia Press


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pp. vii-viii

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Rudolph Rediscovered: An Introductory Essay

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pp. ix-xxiii

For over twenty-five years Rudolph's book had been at the heart of courses that introduced the heritage of the American campus. "Out of print" has meant "out of luck" for most professors who teach seminars in the history of education as they experienced the immediate panic of what to do about textbook orders for the forthcoming semester. During ...

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pp. xxv-xxvii

For some time now the general reader and the professional historian have had greater access to the history of almost any skirmish of the Civil War than they have had to the history of education in the United States. This book is intended in some way to redress the balance, as far as the American experience ...

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1. The Colonial College

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pp. 3-22

On the eve of the American Revolution, England's colonies in the New World were supporting, in one fashion or another, nine colleges, nine home-grown variations on a theme known in the mother country as Oxford and Cambridge. Whether the colonies needed the nine was another matter, just as it would always be a question of some controversy whether ...

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2. Legacy of the Revolution

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pp. 23-43

While the purposes of the colonial colleges were not narrow, the charge was sometimes made against them that their curriculum was stultifying, unimaginative, inadequate to the times—a veritable baggage of subjects, methods, and attitudes almost certain to keep the student and his world at a standstill. ...

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3. The College Movement

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pp. 44-67

On a cold drizzly day in January 1795, a two-story empty brick building that called itself the University of North Carolina was opened to the public. An unsightly landscape of tree stumps, rough lumber, scarred clay, and a bitter wind greeted the governor, who had wanted to be on hand for ...

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4. The Religious Life

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pp. 68-85

Andrew D. White, the first president of Cornell, a man possessed by a dream of true university proportions, once referred to the pre-Cornell period in the history of American higher education as "the regime of petty sectarian colleges." 1 From his vantage point above Cayuga's waters, this ...

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5. The Collegiate Way

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pp. 86-109

William Tecumseh Sherman, who would be remembered for marching through Georgia, began his career in the South as president of a military college that became Louisiana State University. Reporting on the opening of the institution in 1860 he remarked: "The dullest boys have the most ...

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6. Reform and Reaction

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pp. 110-135

What is an American college? War, declining enrollments, the sudden instability of whole areas of knowledge, dynamic social and economic changes—these and a multitude of other developments have often thrown the American college back upon itself and forced upon it a moment, perhaps even an ...

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7. The Extracurriculum

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pp. 136-155

The American college, for all of the pervasiveness of the Yale Report of 1828, was unable to stand still. To an increasingly disenchanted public, the American college continued to present itself as little more than a body of established doctrine, an ancient course of study, and a respectable ...

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8. Academic Balance of Power

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pp. 156-176

The vigor of the extracurriculum was proof that the undergraduates had succeeded in assuming significant authority over college life and that as a result they had become a remarkably important element in the power structure of the American college. That they were able to do so was in part ...

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9. Financing the Colleges

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pp. 177-200

During the War of 1812 military forces of the United States commandeered the only building of the University of Vermont for use as a barracks. The university necessarily called off classes and waited for peace. For its troubles it received a government check in the amount of $5,600.1 Few American ...

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10. Jacksonian Democracy and the Colleges

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pp. 201-220

The Yale Report of 1828 gave expression to one of the most durable positions on the nature of the American college, but another event of the same year was of more lasting consequence. In 1828 Andrew Jackson was elected to the presidency of the United States. Jackson did not tangle with the ...

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11. Crisis of the 1850's

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pp. 221-240

The American college did not find the answers to the questions raised by the rising tide of democracy until after the Civil War. Nor did it, until then, begin effectively to grapple with the question of quality, of standards, of excellence. Whether higher education in the United States was going to ...

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12. Dawning of a New Era

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pp. 241-263

One day in 1867 Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote into his journal an observation that anticipated how thoroughly higher education in the years after the Civil War would differ from the era of the colleges. "The treatises that are written on University reform may be acute or not," suggested Emerson, "but their ...

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13. The Emerging University

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pp. 264-286

Higher education in the United States after the Civil War was transformed by more than one agency of innovation, but surely none came closer to representing fundamental developments in American social and intellectual life than did the land-grant college movement. "State College" would ...

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14. The Elective Principle

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pp. 287-306

A few days after the Battle of Bunker Hill a Harvard undergraduate wrote in his diary: "Amid all the terrors of battle I was so busily engaged in Harvard Library that I never even heard of ... [it] until it was completed."1 A hundred and fifty years later professors who complained of apathetic ...

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15. The Education of Women

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pp. 307-328

Given the conditions of American life, it was inevitable that the college classroom should one day be blessed with the charms of femininity and graced by the presence of aspiring American womanhood. But it would take time. Yale, in 1783, examined Lucinda Foote, age twelve, and found her ...

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16. Flowering of the University Movement

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pp. 329-354

In a spirit of optimism appropriate to the age President James B. Angell of the University of Michigan looked out upon the collegiate world in 1871 and concluded, "In this day of unparalleled activity in college life, the institution which is not steadily advancing is certainly falling behind."1 The ...

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17. Progressivism and the Universities

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pp. 355-372

During the decades when the friends of the university idea in the United States were fed only by dreams, anticipation, and frustration, they indulged their fancy by answering the question, "What should the American university be?" Their answers revealed a variety that was surpassed only by the ...

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18. The Rise of Football

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pp. 373-393

Football of sorts was played in tenth-century England, where it was largely a matter of kicking a skull or a cow's bladder between towns. The Princeton-Rutgers game of 1869, which inaugurated American football, was in this tradition. During the next decade, initially at Harvard and at Yale, a shift ...

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19. Academic Man

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pp. 394-416

In the mythology of American education the old-time college professor, if nothing else, was a character. Beloved or unloved, tyrannical or permissive, stern or playful, tall or short, skinny or fat, young or old—he might be any of these things, but one thing for sure, he was a character. He was ...

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20. The Organized Institution

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pp. 417-439

The American colleges and universities, in their development from simple institutions to complex organizations, not only replaced the old-time professor with the academician, that trained specialist who knew the rights and privileges and responsibilities of a profession and who in so many of his ...

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21. Counterrevolution

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pp. 440-461

Organization, with all of its characteristic paraphernalia— committees, departments, hierarchies, codes, standards— often manages to choke the last bit of life out of an enterprise, frustrate almost every tendency toward originality and imagination, and militate against decision and responsibility. ...

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22. An American Consensus

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pp. 462-482

The continuous search for purpose and definition on the American campus led to a revival of collegiate values in the 1920's, but university ideals were not in any serious way rejected because Harvard and Yale made dramatic efforts to deal with some of the problems of growth or because ...

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pp. 483-496

This story, from the repertoire of President Lotus D. Coffman of the University of Minnesota, after World War II assumed a peculiar appropriateness for the history of higher education in the United States. One era was over—the era of university growth and rationalization, and another awaited definition ...


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pp. 497-516

Supplemental Bibliography

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pp. 517-526


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pp. 527-563

E-ISBN-13: 9780820342573
E-ISBN-10: 0820342572
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820312859
Print-ISBN-10: 0820312851

Page Count: 616
Publication Year: 1990