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The History of American Higher Education:
Learning and Culture from the Founding to World War II
Roger L. Geiger

Winner of the 2015 AERA Division J Outstanding Publication Award, American Educational Research Association

Paperback | 2016 | $27.95 | £22.95 | ISBN: 9780691173061
584 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 1 table.
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eBook | ISBN: 9781400852055 |
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This book tells the compelling saga of American higher education from the founding of Harvard College in 1636 to the outbreak of World War II. The most in-depth and authoritative history of the subject available, The History of American Higher Education traces how colleges and universities were shaped by the shifting influences of culture, the emergence of new career opportunities, and the unrelenting advancement of knowledge.

Roger Geiger, arguably today's leading historian of American higher education, vividly describes how colonial colleges developed a unified yet diverse educational tradition capable of weathering the social upheaval of the Revolution as well as the evangelical fervor of the Second Great Awakening. He shows how the character of college education in different regions diverged significantly in the years leading up to the Civil War—for example, the state universities of the antebellum South were dominated by the sons of planters and their culture—and how higher education was later revolutionized by the land-grant movement, the growth of academic professionalism, and the transformation of campus life by students. By the beginning of the Second World War, the standard American university had taken shape, setting the stage for the postwar education boom.

Breathtaking in scope and rich in narrative detail, The History of American Higher Education is the most comprehensive single-volume history of the origins and development of of higher education in the United States.

Roger L. Geiger is Distinguished Professor of Higher Education at Pennsylvania State University.


"An encyclopedic history of American colleges and universities. . . . A well-researched, detailed tome."--Kirkus Reviews

"'At Last!' Etta James does not usually come to mind when you're reviewing a scholarly book. Her 1960 signature song on vintage vinyl, 45 rpm, however, expressed my sentiment when I received Roger L. Geiger's new The History of American Higher Education: Learning and Culture From the Founding to World War II. Many of us in the field have been waiting for this big book. . . . Important."--John R. Thelin, Chronicle Review

"Geiger's History of American Higher Education is an excellent survey of this complex topic. It is a very valuable addition to the historical literature on American higher education."--Steven Diner, H-Net Reviews

"Geiger has successfully written about a major part of the history of higher education in the United States. This book will be of interest to both scholars and general readers interested in the subject."--John Sandstrom, Library Journal

"Geiger has written a magisterial, almost encyclopedic history of higher education in the U.S. from its beginnings in the 17th century until 1940. . . . Well-written and filled with copious detail."--Choice

"To say that Roger L. Geiger has done his homework would be an understatement. . . . Mr. Geiger packs decades of research into one exhaustive tome that tracks the evolution of American higher education from the 17th Century to 1940. . . . Skimming would be rather pointless given the learning opportunity that Mr. Geiger has carefully crafted here, one rich paragraph at a time."--Amy Lyons, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"[A] remarkably rich and detailed history. Given Geiger's previous contributions to the field, this is the book that higher education historians have been looking forward to reading."--Charles Dorn, Journal of American History

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