Celebrating NCTE's Centennial



"By the year 2010, new schools will use vertical building forms rather than horizontal ones.... Being up in the air will be a new and pleasant experience for both faculty and students. Banks of elevators will provide for an easy flow of traffic....Air conditioning and solar heating will maintain pleasant, year-round temperatures in this vertical school."

Ruth Stickle and Jean Paul Budinger's predictions in Golden Anniversary (1960)


NCTE's first centennial has inspired reflection on its past, as well as concern on how to best preserve it for future retrospection. The Council has dedicated numerous projects to these ends, including the establishment of the Task Force on Council History and 2011; the transferring of records to the University of Illinois Archives for care and public access; the production of the documentary, NCTE Centennial Film: Reading the Past, Writing the Future, the publishing of the book, Reading the Past, Writing the Future: A Century of American Literacy Education and the National Council of Teachers of English; and the creation of the NCTE Centennial Celebration website that brings together and features the Council's various projects to celebrate this historic event.


While this may be the organization's first centennial, it is not the first time NCTE has celebrated an anniversary with a look at its past and predications for the future. The Council's 50th and 75th anniversary also provided the occasion for considering the significance of not only the organization but also the profession. In particular, the 50th anniversary motivated Council members to ask how teaching English might change in another fifty years. What will the year 2010 be like? The 75th anniversary focused on honoring English teachers and their role in shaping society. How were today's leaders influenced by past English teachers?


The themes for NCTE conventions celebrating these milestones all look forward: the 50th anniversary theme declared, "All our past acclaims our future"; the 75th theme wondered, "What We Will Be"; and the centennial focuses on action, "Reading the Past, Writing the Future." Take a look at the featured records below to learn more about how NCTE celebrated its past, see the ledger that led to the organization's founding, and find out what these caricatures have to do with NCTE.


Contents: (To enlarge an image, click on it and it will open in a new window)


The Founding Ledger


Ledger of Member Signatures and 1911-12 Meeting Minutes


Celebrating 50 Years: The Golden Anniversary


Golden Anniversary

Official Program for NCTE Annual Convention, 1960

Perspectives on English: Essays to Honor W. Wilbur Hatfield


Celebrating 75 Years: The Diamond Anniversary


Convention Preview and Program

Celebration of Teachers: For the Diamond Jubilee of the National Council of Teachers of English

NCTE Calendar, "Illuminating Lowpoints in Literary History"


Ledger of Member Signatures and 1911-12 Meeting Minutes


NCTE was founded in the winter of 1911 by a group of English teachers attending a two-day national organizational meeting at the Great Northern Hotel in Chicago. The meeting, led by James F. Hosic, was in response to rigid college entrance requirements and their effects on high school English curriculum. The names of 35 of those attendees can be found in Hosic's ledger, which they signed to become charter members of NCTE. In A Long Way Together: A Personal View of NCTE's First Sixty-Seven Years, J.N. Hook described the Council as "an organization born out of protest but inspired by altruistic urges" (1979, p. 3). Hosic also recorded the minutes of NCTE's meetings in 1911-12, including the first annual meeting and the first Board of Directors meeting.


Item: Ledger (1911)

To learn about related material, see the following record series: 15/70/003


   

The cover and pages of the ledger that contained the signatures of charter members and meeting minutes from 1911 to 1912. The second image is of the first page of signatures. The next two are the meeting minutes from the Board of Directors meeting in 1911 and 1912.


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Golden Anniversary


To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the NCTE published Golden Anniversary in 1960. Full of reflections and predictions from NCTE members, this monograph offered a thorough examination of the organization and profession and their roles. Two articles, "The Change I Would Most Like to See in English Teaching During the Next 50 Years" and "A Center for Teaching Communication in the School of Tomorrow," focused on what English teaching will be like in the year 2010. Contributors offered a hopeful view of the future, one where many of NCTE's goals, such as smaller class sizes, have been realized.


Item: Copy of Golden Anniversary (1960)

To learn about related material, see the following record series: 15/71/824


    

   

Pages from Golden Anniversary. Pages from the article, "A Center for Teaching Communication in the School of Tomorrow," offered a radical view on how schools will be different in 2010. NCTE members voiced the change they would like to see in the next fifty years in the subsequent article.


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Official Program for NCTE Annual Convention, 1960


From its official program in 1960, it was clear that NCTE's 50th anniversary influenced the sessions and workshops, encouraging retrospection. Sessions such as "What Have We Accomplished in Reading? — A Review of the Past Fifty Years" and "Shall We Scrap Traditional Grammar?" reinforced NCTE's tendency to both reflect on the past and decide what changes may be in store for the future. The program also contained images of NCTE members and staff, including the organizers of the 1960 program: Irwin Suloway, Ruth Strickland, and Hardy Finch.


Item: Copy of Official Program: The National Council of Teachers of English (1960)

To learn about related material, see the following record series: 15/71/824


      

Pages from NCTE's official program described conference details and the sessions offered in 1960 in addition to photos of NCTE members and staff.


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Perspectives on English: Essays to Honor W. Wilbur Hatfield


It was also during the time of the 50th anniversary that NCTE honored one of its earliest members, W. Wilbur Hatfield. To recognize Hatfield and his extensive contributions to NCTE, the Council published Perspectives on English: Essays to Honor W. Wilbur Hatfield in 1960. In the introduction, the editor quoted J.N. Hook's praise for Hatfield in a letter sent to the editor: "If I were to choose a single word to describe Wilbur Hatfield, it would be dedicated. And whenever I think that the working capacity of a man is limited, I recall Wilbur and wonder whether we do not underestimate human capacity." Hook then went on to list the many accomplishments of Hatfield, including being secretary treasurer of NCTE and treasurer of CCCC, editing two magazines, writing countless articles, attending national conferences regularly, and managing the business office.


Item: Perspectives on English: Essays to Honor W. Wilbur Hatfield (1960)

To learn about related material, see the following record series: 15/71/824


      

The cover and pages fromPerspectives on English: Essays to Honor W. Wilbur Hatfield. The book contained an insert of Hatfield's portrait. The introduction detailed the importance of Hatfield to NCTE.


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Diamond Jubilee Convention Preview and Program


The next significant anniversary that NCTE recognized was its 75th year. The Diamond Jubilee Convention Preview detailed the events planned to celebrate this occasion: "The Council will enshrine significant moments in its history with a special display in the exhibition hall, 'NCTE Milestones.'" However, NCTE's theme, "What We Will Be," was future-oriented. The Preview explained the reasoning behind selecting this slogan: "Remembering the past will only be a part of the Covention's celebration. Building upon the old — the established, the proven — the Council will look forward to the new — to the future." NCTE celebrated its Diamond Jubilee at both its 1985 and 1986 convention.


Item: Copy of Diamond Jubilee Convention Preview and Program (1986)

To learn about related material, see the following record series: 15/74/10


               

The Convention Preview for the 1986 convention noted the specials plans for the anniversary, while the brochure for the 1985 convention illustrated that NCTE's Diamond Jubilee was celebrated at both.


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A Celebration of Teachers: For the Diamond Jubilee of the National Council of Teachers of English


As a special way to mark its 75th anniversary, NCTE published A Celebration of Teachers: For the Diamond Jubilee of the National Council of Teachers of English. This book is a collection of testimonials from famous leaders and writers. The Council asked for stories on how an English teacher influenced them for the better. Madeleine L'Engle was one such contributer, thanking her sixth grade teacher, Margaret Clapp. She wrote: "She was the first person in all my school life to see any potential in this shy, introverted child....She was a vibrant example of the fact that one does not teach a subject, one teaches a child." Other contributers included Margaret Walker Alexander, Jimmy Carter, and Richard Nixon.


Item: Copy of A Celebration of Teachers: For the Diamond Jubilee of the National Council of Teachers of English (1985)

To learn about related material, see the following record series: 15/71/824


   

The cover and pages from A Celebration of Teachers. The foreword and preface explained the motivation behind publishing the anthology. Page 22 contained Madeleine L'Engle's contribution.


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NCTE Calendar, "Illuminating Lowpoints in Literary History"


Coinciding around the time of NCTE's Diamond Jubilee, the Council released the calendar, "Illuminating Lowpoints in Literary History." Drawn by Robert C. Harvey and "aided and abetted by fellow NCTE staff members Mark Anderson, Robert Hogan, and Paul O'Dea," this calendar lampooned legendary writers and poets, including William Shakespeare, Herman Melville, and Robert Frost.


Item: NCTE Calendar, "Illuminating Lowpoints in Literary History" (1985)

To learn about related material, see the following record series: 15/71/824


  

The 1985 NCTE calendar depicts humerous caricatures drawn by Robert C. Harvey, an NCTE member and cartoonist.


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