"When the Russians beat us into space, the public blamed the schools,
not realizing that the only thing that had been proved was that their
German scientists had gotten ahead of our German scientists."
Lawrence Arthur Cremin (1925–90)
MA 1947, PhD 1949, LittD (hon.) 1975
An educator, historian, author, and administrator, Lawrence Cremin helped shape Teachers College over four decades. Cremin broadened the study of American educational history beyond the school-centered analysis dominant in the 1940s by advocating a more comprehensive approach: examining the other agencies and institutions that educate children, integrating the study of education with other historical subfields, and comparing education across international boundaries. This interest led to his major work, a three-volume comparative history of education in the United States entitled American Education. The second volume, covering the period from 1783 to 1876, won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1981. In addition to scores of articles, Cremin wrote seven other books, including The Transformation of the School: Progressivism in American Education, 1876–1957, which won the 1962 Bancroft Prize in American history, and Popular Education and Its Discontents (1990). He also played a leading role in many professional, governmental, and philanthropic organizations, including the National Academy of Education, the U.S. Office of Education's Curriculum Improvement Panel, and the Carnegie Commission on the Education of Educators.