HE TRANSFORMED AMERICAN EDUCATION
CHARLES W. ELIOT SIGNED CARD, "Charles W. Eliot, Harvard University, 1880", 4 x 2, the forty-year President of Harvard University who transformed the provincial college controlled by clergymen, who embraced a classical curricula that had little relevance to an industrializing nation, into a preeminent American research university.
Earlier he had spent two years traveling in Europe studying the educational systems with a focus on the relation between education and economic growth. He understood the interdependence of education and enterprise and while in Europe he found himself not only focusing his attention on learning about the organization of institutions of learning but also on the methods by which science could be made to help industry.
By the middle of the nineteenth century, American higher education was in crisis. As businessmen became increasingly reluctant to send their sons to schools whose curricula offered nothing useful - or to donate money for their support, Eliot would begin to explore ways of making higher education more attractive. In 1869 Eliot presented his ideas about reforming American higher education in a compelling article, "The New Education", in The Atlantic Monthly, the nation's leading journal of opinion. A short time later, at age 35, he was elected as the youngest president in the history of the nation's oldest university.
A truly useful education, in Eliot's view, included a commitment to public service, specialized training, and a capacity to change and adapt. Harvard adopted an "elective system" which vastly expanded the range of courses offered and permitted undergraduates unrestricted choice in selecting their courses of study -with a view to enabling them to discover their "natural bents" and pursue them into specialized studies. Under Eliot, Harvard became a national institution. His leadership not only made Harvard the pace-setter for other American colleges and universities, but a major figure in the reform of secondary school education. He was also an advocate of racial equality and many talented African Americans were educated at Harvard during Eliot's tenure. He also opposed efforts to limit the admission of Jews and Roman Catholics. In fine condition, with age toning and mounting remnants on the reverse with no show through.