At the end of the eighteenth century, just eighteen colleges existed in the United States, with an average enrollment of fewer than seventy. One hundred years later, over 450 American colleges and universities boasted enrollments up more than one hundredfold. The role of educational institutions in the life of the nation had been utterly transformed.
As the bridge between the two eras, the nineteenth-century college has been among the most controversial subjects in the history of American higher education. While earlier historians portrayed the "old-time" college as an impediment to modernization, later scholars affirmed the broad role of the colleges in the education of the American people.
The American College in the Nineteenth Century combines the best recent scholarship with an interpretive introduction to provide a fresh view of the development of American colleges. The contributors consider these institutions within four new contexts: first, the dramatic transformation in the college students' experience from oppressive discipline to relative freedom; second, the regional variations among the developing American colleges (for example, a South dominated by state colleges, a Midwest by denominational schools); third, the revolution in the century's third quarter as colleges became multipurpose institutions; and fourth, universities that became dominant by the end of the century, incorporating rather than displacing the colleges.
Innovative in its examination of the nature and function of these uniquely American institutions, The American College in the Nineteenth Century is a vital addition to the scholarship of the period.
Contributors: David B. Potts, Leon Jackson, Julie Ann Bubolz, Michael Sugrue, James Findlay, Margaret A. Nash, Peter Dobkin Hall, James Turner, Paul Bernard, and Willard J. Pugh.
Far more than a 'reader,' this book is a landmark in efforts to write truly about the past of American higher education. By signaling the maturation of the revisionist approach, this volume lays the groundwork for new approaches.
--Hugh Hawkins, Amherst College
Roger Geiger's happy thought, to collect the leading essays of the last decade on the 'old-time college,' is a centennial gift to students, teachers, and scholars. Routinely underplayed in the historiography of American higher education, the college has always had a fascinating story to tell.
Sheldon Rothblatt, University of California and Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm
A generation of scholarship dismantling the conventional wisdom on nineteenth-century American higher education has been a well-kept secret. Thanks to Roger Geiger, some of the best is finally under one cover. This collection forces us to reach new understandings of periodization, regional variations, and student life, and to place universities in a realistic social context.
--Bruce Leslie, State University of New York-Brockport