A History of NCSS: 75 Years of Service

Ben A. Smith and J. Jesse Palmer

Development of a written history of National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) began in 1992 with an examination of NCSS archival materials held in the Milbank Memorial Library, Special Collections, at Teachers College, Columbia University. We want to thank David M. Ment, Head of Special Collections, and Bette Weneck, Manuscript Curator, both with the Milbank Library, for their valuable help during this project.We also wish to thank those responsible for the collection of audio tapes held by Texas A & M in the archives of the Oral History Program, which has been kind enough to allow the transcription of portions of tapes recorded as part of that Program.
The NCSS History Project was undertaken to provide NCSS members with a view into the past of the organization. It is an attempt to provide an understanding of the NCSS, but does not seek to be the final word. Other scholars may view events in a different manner.

This series of articles examines the people and events responsible for the development and history of NCSS. It adopts a chronological approach, addressing "key people" in NCSS; major NCSS issues and events; some non-NCSS events that had an impact on the organization; and the perennial issues which face NCSS.

The chronological approach was selected following discussions with numerous scholars who have been intimately involved in the growth of the NCSS. The final breakdown was reached with the encouragement of Daniel Roselle, long-time editor of Social Education, following correspondence and a telephone conversation regarding authors and potential organizations for the history.

The contributors have endeavored to present as complete and accurate a history as it is possible to deliver in the space provided here. Those scholars have had to choose from the vast amount of material held in the NCSS archives, past journal publications, recorded interviews with past NCSS presidents and other significant people, and previously compiled histories. Limited financial resources, and the volume and nature of some of the NCSS archive materials at Columbia, to some extent inhibited the use of the latter in this endeavor. As a result, this history is primarily descriptive, and conclusions should be viewed as hypotheses for further investigation rather than a definitive analysis of the topics examined.

Extensive use was made of Historical Outlook, The Social Studies and Social Education as well as other journals and texts. It should be noted that although the editors print a disclaimer that Social Education does not reflect the official views of NCSS, it is the organization's professional journal and it does reveal at least one perspective on the organization.

With these considerations and limitations in mind, let us begin to examine National Council for the Social Studies with a list of those who volunteered their time to lead NCSS through the last 75 years.