2003 Hall of Fame Conference


Roger Hiemstra, Professor, Adult Education; Elmira College; Elmira, NY


Roger Hiemstra; 318 Southfield Dr.; Fayetteville, NY 13066


March 7, 2003


            It was with great pleasure that I undertook this project. Like most of you here today, my plate is always overflowing. Finding time for another task is not easy, but this conference was the perfect excuse for taking the time to do what I enjoy, historical research. You probably have to have carried out historical research yourself to understand why a person says he likes digging through dusty and dank old manuscripts, but there is just something about the thrill of finding some new fact, unraveling the unknown, and coming up with those epiphanies that make it all worthwhile (see Hiemstra, 2003, to examine some historical records stored electronically).

            Added to that for me was an opportunity to delve even more deeply into the life of my mentor, Howard McClusky. I have written about his illustrious career several times before (Hiemstra, 1980, 1981, 1993, 1998), but I have never spent so much time looking at a particular period in his life. It truly was a labor of love.

            I actually had the good fortune of spending some quality time with all three of these honored Hall of Famers. I met Cy Houle first. In early 1966 while a County Extension Agent in Iowa, I began exploring graduate programs in adult education. A boyhood friend in Michigan, Ivan Lappin, had also been an Iowa Extension Agent. He was already enrolled in the University of Chicago adult education graduate program by the time I began my exploration and recommended I start there.

            I sent in my applications and then drove to Chicago for interviews with Cy and I think Bill Griffith. My time with Cy was short but memorable. I don’t remember him smiling during my interview and I’m sure I tried to elicit one, but I was impressed with his tough questions and knowledge about adult education. My next “alone” time with him did not come for more than 20 years later. He visited the Syracuse University archives for several days in the late 1980s when he was doing research for The Literature of Adult Education (Houle, 1992). We had lunch one day and talked for awhile about his retirement, the time he was spending in Florida, and the book on which he was working.

            I had also applied to the University of Nebraska and Iowa State University. I did not get into Chicago or Nebraska (I later got to Nebraska by being on their faculty for six years and having the fortunate opportunity of working with Wes Meierhenry, one of yesterday’s posthumous inductees). I did get accepted at Iowa State (having worked in Extension there for a couple of years enabled them to overlook my absolutely atrocious undergraduate grade point average at Michigan State University--I had a good bowling score though) and began a Masters in Adult Extension Education in 1966.

            I did very well on my Masters and was encouraged by my major professor, Roger Lawrence, to apply for a Mott Foundation Fellowship and admission to the University of Michigan’s doctoral program in Community Adult Education, which I did during the spring of 1967. I was still a little uncertain if I really wanted to go to Michigan rather than staying in Iowa and working with Extension--at that time I was dating Janet Wemer, whom I subsequently married. Fortunately, Howard McClusky had been reading my application materials and letters of recommendation and he called me at my apartment one night, at his own expense I later found out, and spent about an hour talking about the virtues of the University of Michigan. That phone call, a subsequent visit to Michigan, my first face-to-face meeting with Howard, and a Mott Fellowship award convinced me and I began there that next September.

            I, of course, heard about Malcolm during my doctoral work and a couple of his books were required reading (Knowles, 1950, 1962). I also saw him at the first AEA conference I attended in Des Moines in 1968 [I attended that first conference to co-deliver a paper with Howard (Hiemstra & McClusky, 1968)]. However, I never actually met Malcolm until 1972 when Wes Meierhenry brought him to the University of Nebraska campus for a couple of days to talk about andragogy and his recent book on the topic (Knowles, 1970). Wes had asked me to coordinate the development of a videotape on the topic of andragogy. So I worked with the Nebraska Educational Telecommunications network and we produced a half hour video where I interviewed Malcolm on the topic of andragogy (Knowles & Hiemstra, 1972). It was a thrilling experience and that tape ran periodically over the network for a few years. It is still advertised as available through the NETCHE catalog. I subsequently had a chance to interact with Malcolm several times over the years.

You can tell by the title of this paper that by focusing on the people involved with the founding of AEA of the USA, I actually could have centered my research on any number of distinguished people. Let me roll by you some of the names of many other people who in some way had a hand in that founding: Kenneth Benne, Paul Bergevin, Leland Bradford, Lyman Bryson, Glen Burch, Ambrose Caliver, Morse Cartright, Eleanor Coit, Watson Dickerman, Wilma Donahue, Paul Essert, Phil Frandson, Gladys Gallop, Wilbur Hallenbeck, Andy Hendrickson, Otto Hoiberg, John Holden, Herb Hunsaker, Abbot Kaplan, Eduard Lindeman, Ron Lippitt, Fern Long, Bob Luke, Homer Kempfer, Alexander Meiklejohn, Harry Miller, Jean Ogden, Jess Ogden, Paul Sheats, Robertson Sillars, Hilda W. Smith, Ralph Spence, Grace Stevenson, Clark Tibbits, and Thurman White. I had no idea I would find such a treasure trove of human talent during my research. If you are familiar with past Hall of Fame inductees, you know that many of those names I read are of people already in the Hall. I am convinced that most who are not already in the Hall, should be. Apropos to the dinner tonight, I was pleased to be reminded during my research about the vital role Thurman White played. For example, among other responsibilities, Thurman was Editor of Adult Education for 11 years, from 1957-1967.

Another fascinating thing was to discover how some unexpected people popped up as somehow involved in the early years of AEA. For example, Milton Eisenhower (Ike’s brother) was President of Pennsylvania State College. He had agreed to participate in a workshop to be sponsored in 1954 by AEA on the topic of adult education and older adults. I don’t know if that workshop actually took place. Dr. S. I. Hayakawa, later to become Senator Hayakawa, was a specialist in general semantics. He served as chairman of a session on the importance of semantics to adult educators at the 1954 AEA conference in Chicago. One fun surprise was the fact that an advertised extra event during the 1952 Conference in E. Lansing was a football game between MSU and Syracuse University. Syracuse got trounced 48 to 7.

I should let you know about the resources I used for this research. They are few in number just because I had limited time in which to complete my effort. Subsequently, my research findings are also limited because of the lack of additional historical documents, no interviews with people who may have participated in these events, and my own lack of understanding of the times. Regarding the resources I did have access to, my relationship with Howard and Helen McClusky was instrumental. The time I spent in their home both during and after I graduated was always a treat. Howard willing and graciously allowed me to interview him a few times and he shared many of his papers and materials with me. After his death, Helen continued this kindness and gave me many boxes of his papers, books, journals, and speeches. One treasure was Howard’s copies of the four primary documents about the founding of AEA that served as the main sources of data for this research:

Annual Reports (AEA, 1957a)

Delegate Assembly Documents (AEA, 1957b)

Executive Committee Minutes (AEA, 1957c)

Founding Documents (AEA, 1957d)

They contained original documents, minutes, reports, and conference programs pertaining to the development and founding of the AEA. They reflected primarily the period of 1949 through 1955, so that is why I limited my research to that time period. I don’t know who assembled these invaluable resources, but suspect it may have been under the direction of Bob Luke or Malcolm Knowles, given some of the occasional notes in the margins. If anyone here knows the answer to that puzzle, I would love to hear from you.

I also looked at a few of the related journals around the same time period seeking clarification, verification, or expansion of what I was finding. In addition, I examined a few of the publications by Howard, Malcolm, and Cy to obtain a bit more insight into the context of the times and their own thinking processes. Many of these publications are referenced throughout the remainder of this paper.


Contextual Information


            The purpose of this section is to provide some background or context to help us understand some aspects of Howard, Malcolm, and Cy’s lives during this 1949-1955 time period. As is demonstrated in the next section, Howard’s heaviest involvement in the founding process was from 1949 through 1953, although he continued to be involved for the next two years. Malcolm’s heaviest involvement was from 1951-1955 and Cy’s heaviest involvement was from 1953-1955.

In 1949, Howard was 49 and Malcolm and Cy were both 36. All three were married and had children. Howard was living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Malcolm and Cy were both living in Chicago. Where they lived is important both in understanding why some of the relevant meetings during the time period were held where they were, but also to provide a geographic context in terms of how many travel miles and hours each had to have logged probably via primarily auto or train (although commercial air travel in the United States was certainly underway in the late 40s and early 50s) participating in related meetings. The amount of travel really is staggering to think about, especially in light of the fact that Howard and Cy held full-time jobs in their respective institutions during 1949-1955 and Malcolm had a full-time job with the YMCA until his full-time involvement with AEA began in 1951.

            All three were already active adult education professionals who had contributed to the field in many ways by 1949. Howard was Assistant to the Vice President for University Relations at the University of Michigan from 1934-1939 where he focused on adult education activities. After a stint in Washington, DC, during WWII working for a couple of government agencies, he was Director, Bureau of Studies and Training in Community Adult Education back at Michigan from 1945-1948. He established and was Chair of the Department of Adult and Continuing Education (later called Community Adult Education) for several years beginning in 1948. He also was Director, Extra-Mural Services, during part of this period. He was writing about adult education topics as early as 1939 (1939a, 1939b). He had 15 publications during 1949-1952, the time of his heaviest involvement with the founding process, and another 7 publications during 1953-55, so he certainly remained involved as a scholar.

            Malcolm states in his autobiographical journey that he realized he was an adult educator in 1937 at age 24 (Knowles, 1989). He was Director of Adult Education for YMCAs in Boston from 1940 to 1943 and then had the same position at the Chicago YMCA from 1946 until he took the AEA Administrative Coordinator job in 1951 (in 1950 he was promoted to Executive Secretary of the YMCA). He began his graduate program in adult education at the University of Chicago in 1946 with Cy serving as his major advisor. Malcolm obtained his masters in 1949 and his thesis became the 1950 publication, Informal Adult Education. Malcolm also had 22 publications between 1949 and 1955.

            I don’t know when Cy began to think of himself as an adult educator, but he was an Assistant Professor working with adult education at the University of Chicago beginning in 1938. He became Dean of University College there in 1944, a position he held through 1952. Malcolm said that in 1947 Cy Houle was “the leading adult educator in this country at that time” (Knowles, 1989, p. 13). After 1952 he continued with the University as a Professor of Adult Education until his retirement in 1978. I don’t have the same background information on Cy as I do on Howard and Malcolm, but I know he was publishing material related to the armed forces, citizenship, general adult education, libraries, and even the use of print in adult education during the 1949-1955 time period. Andy and Harold’s papers explore his many contributions in more detail. Beginning in 1941 Cy was involved in compiling and reporting annually professional adult education study opportunities (Houle, 1941), something he continued to be engaged in for many years after that.

Each also was involved with the parent organizations of AEA. For example, Cy was Regional Vice President for the Department of Adult Education, NEA, for a two-year term beginning in 1946 (Department of Adult Education Officers, 1946). Howard and Cy were Associate Editors of the Department’s Adult Education Bulletin from 1942 until at least into 1947 (Associate Editors, 1942, 1947). Both were writing articles in the Bulletin during this time period. Howard was on the AAAE Executive Council with a three year term ending in 1946 and on the Executive Board (A.A.A.E. News, 1945). Howard was elected a Vice President of AAAE in 1946 and Cy was elected to the association’s Executive Council for the 1946-1949 period (A.A.A.E. News, 1946). All three were on the Executive Council of AAAE at the same time with three year terms slated to expire in 1952 (AAAE Officers, 1950).

So you can see that all three were well established as adult educators and probably fairly well known as professionals in the field. They also spent considerable time together, especially Howard and Malcolm, participating in and often leading the founding process. I don’t know how valuable such interactions were, now whether there was any perceived or overt competition among them. However, knowing a little about their personalities I can speculate that each probably respected the contributions of the other two while at the same time exerting their opinions and ideas in a respectful but persuasive manner. I believe such leadership qualities were vital to the founding process that is described in the next section.


Founding a New Adult Education Association


            The purpose of my research effort was three fold: (a) To better understand the actual roles played by Howard, Malcolm, and Cy during the 1949-1955 AEA founding period; (b) to determine the impact each had on the formation and establishment of AEA; and (c) to suggest several implications for better understanding the field of adult education. The next two sections speak to these purposes and the final section includes my recommendations for some future research.

            The theoretical perspective informing this research is that a certain individual can play a pivotal role in the long-term success of an organization or even a professional movement. In some respects, Howard, Malcolm, and Cy were the right people in the right place at the right time. However, as is evident in the distinguished careers each had during their professional lives, their talent, knowledge, and leadership abilities added much to the AEA, and, ultimately to the adult education field. Certainly, the roles they played during the time period of this research impacted greatly on what AEA was to become.

Figure 1 shows a chronology of events leading up to the establishment of the AEA and its first national conference. Howard and Malcolm were both involved with some of the actions or meetings shown in that chronology. For instance, Howard was one of the initial appointees to the JC “to study and make recommendations regarding the establishment of a single national organization to represent and serve the adult education field” (Toward a New Association, 1950, p. 5). This appointment took place in late 1949. Howard and Malcolm were appointed to the National Organizing Committee about a year later. I speculate that Cy might also have been appointed to this committee had he not been in the British Isles under a Fulbright grant studying British adult education during parts of 1950 and 1951 (Over the Editor’s Desk, 1950).

Obviously there were many important events leading up to actual work on the AEA’s founding process as shown in Figure 1. Oh, to be able to twist the fabric of time and insert a modern video camera or sound recorder into the rooms of those early meetings when members representing AAAE and the DEA and others talked about the pros and cons of establishing a new, over arching organization. I anticipate that it took much discussion, persuasion, and give and take just to create the JCSAE.

This section actually begins, though, December 20-21, 1949, when the JC held its first meeting in New York City. Howard was not there that first morning, but he was elected chair of the JC. One can imagine the old strategy of looking around to see who wasn’t there to make the selection, but I suspect the real reason for Howard’s election was the high esteem in which he was held by other committee members. I’ll primarily refer to the leadership exerted by Howard, Malcolm, and Cy throughout this section to show their active involvement during most of the founding process. However, I will provide additional clarifying and interpretative statements and points that interested me when it makes sense to do so.

Figure 2 shows the membership of the JC at the time of that first meeting and portrays a wide variety of skills, experiences, and geographic representation. The intent of selecting those members was to provide a group of individuals that would broadly represent the field, but with a single voice. Although there did turn out to be fairly broad representation as is shown in Figure 2, one of their first discussion points was that they were not broad or representative enough. I don’t have direct evidence, but can almost “hear” Howard’s voice in much of this type of discussion because of his past experiences in community development and his skills as a consensus builder.


1921                        Department of Immigrant Education, NEA, established

1924                        Name changed to Department of Adult Education (DAE), NEA

1926                        American Association for Adult Education (AAAE) established

1943-1944               AAAE and DAE unsuccessfully attempt to enter into a closer cooperative relationship

1946                        AAAE, DAE, National University Extension Association, Adult Education Board of the American

Library Association, and the Educational Film Library Association jointly sponsor a national adult

education conference in Detroit. An outcome of the conference is the formation of a Joint

Commission for the Study of Adult Education (JCSAE) composed of representatives from each of

the conference sponsors

1949, May              The JCSAE recommends that the AAAE and the DAE  set up a joint committee to explore the

possibility of greater collaboration with one another

1949, October        The AAAE and the DAE establish a Joint Committee (JC) to study the possibility of a new adult

education organization

1949, December    The JC holds its first meeting and begins discussion of the needs for adult education in the

American culture, the major functions of adult education workers, the professional services they

require to carry out their tasks, and the functions and structure of a national organization that

would provide needed services and representation for workers and organizations in the field

1950, March          Second meeting of the JC

1950, April             Third meeting of the JC

1950, May              Participants at the annual meeting of AAAE receive a progress report from the JC and they urge

the development of a national meeting to establish the new organization

 1950, May             Fourth meeting of the JC involves planning a summer workshop to think through in greater detail

the functions and structure of a new organization and to plan ways of enabling the field to

participate in this exploratory process

1950, August        The JC and invited consultants from many areas of adult education hold a week-long workshop at

Sarah Lawrence College. Reports and recommendations of this workshop form the basis of

subsequent planning for the new association

1950, September The JC makes a progress report to the JCSAE and receives its counsel and approval

1950, October        The annual conference of the DAE receives and approves a report from the JC. The governing

bodies of the DAE and the AAAE authorize the formation of an autonomous National Organizing

Committee (NOC) empowered to complete plans for a new association and to arrange for its establishment

1950, October        The NOC holds its first meeting and begins setting up a number of committees to plan for the

formation of the new association in May, 1951

1950, October        The Adult Education Journal and the Adult Education Bulletin are replaced by a single

publication, Adult Education

1950, December    Second meeting of the NOC

1951, February      Third meeting of the NOC

1951, April             Nationwide election of Executive Committee and Delegates-at-Large. Submission of draft

constitution to the field for criticism. Memberships of AAAE and DAE vote for dissolution of

their respective organizations in favor of the new national association

1951, May              Founding Assembly of the new association meets. The name of the AEA of the USA chosen.

Howard elected as the first president. Malcolm appointed as Administrative Coordinator

1951, October        First national conference of AEA held


Figure 1. Chronology of the Development of the Adult Education Association

(Adapted from First Annual Report, 1952)



Joint Committee Membership

(Toward a New Association, 1950)

For the AAAE

Glen Burch, Executive Director, Film Council of America, Chicago, IL

Eleanor G. Coit (alternative), American Labor Education Association, New York, NY

William M. Cooper (alternative), Hampton Institute, Hampton, VA

Gladys Gallup, Assistant Chief, Field Studies and Training, USDA, Washington, DC

Russell M. Grumman, Director of Extension, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC

Herbert C. Hunsaker (ex officio), Director, AAAE, Cleveland, OH

Ralph McCallister (ex officio), Syracuse, NY

Howard Y. McClusky (chair), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Herschel W. Nisonger, Director of Adult Education, Ohio State Univ., Columbus, OH


For the DEA

Kenneth Benne (vice-chair), College of Education, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana, IL

Leland P. Bradford (ex officio), Director, DAE, Washington, DC

John Carr Duff (alternative), Director of Adult Education., New York Univ., New York, NY

Herbert Hamlin, Professor of Agricultural Education, Univ. of Illinois, Urban, IL

Robert A. Luke (alternative), Assistant Director, DEA, Washington, DC

George Mann, Chief, Bureau of Adult Education, Dept. of Education, Los Angeles, CA

Albert Owens, Director of School Extension, Board of Education, Philadelphia, PA

Everett C. Preston (ex officio), Director, Div. of Adult Education, State Dept. of Education, Trenton, NJ

Robert Sharer, Chief, Div. of Adult Education, State Dept. of Public Instruction, E. Lansing, MI

Thomas A. Van Sant (ex officio), Director of Adult Education, Board of Education, Baltimore, MD


Consultants and Staff

Homer Kempfer (consultant), Specialist, General Adult Education, Office of Education, Washington, DC

Robertson Sillars (recorder), Assistant Director, AAAE, Cleveland, OH

Ralph B. Spence (consultant), Prof. of Education, Teachers College, Columbia Univ, New York, NY


Sarah Lawrence College Working Conference

(August 4-9, 1950)

(Toward a New Association, 1950)


L. H. Adolfson, Director, Univ. Extension Division, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

Leland P. Bradford

Edward Brice, Pres., National Conference on Adult Education, & the Negro, S. C. State Col., Orangeburg, SC

Glen Burch

Eleanor G. Coit

John M. Cory, Exec. Secretary, American Library Assoc., Chicago, IL

Wayne Dick, Seattle Public Schools, Seattle, WA

Paul L. Essert, Exec. Officer, Institute of Adult Education, Teachers Col., Columbia Univ, NY, NY

Wilbur C. Hallenbeck, Prof. of Education, Teachers College, Columbia Univ, New York, NY

Andrew Hendrickson, Prof. of Education, Ohio State Univ., Columbus, OH;          

Herbert C. Hunsaker

Homer Kempfer

Eduard C. Lindeman, Prof. of Social Philosophy, New York School of Social Work, NY, NY

Robert A. Luke

Howard Y. McClusky (chair);

Herschel W. Nisonger

R. A. Polson, Dept. of Rural Sociology, Cornell, Univ., Ithaca, NY

Everett C. Preston

Hugh C. Pyle, Supervisor of Informal Instruction, Extension Div., Penn. State College, State College, PA

Robertson Sillars

Hilda W. Smith, Chair, Committee for the Labor Extension Act, Washington, DC

Ralph B. Spence

Henry B. Stevens, Ext. Div., Univ. of New Hampshire, Durham, NH

Ona R. Wagner, Director, General Adult Education, Lincoln Public Schools, Lincoln, NE

Parker Wheatley, Cooperative Broadcasting Council, Boston, MA

Edith Whitfield, Advanced School of Education, Teachers College, Columbia Univ., New York, NY

Gladys Wiggin, College of Education, Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD


Individuals Initially Serving on the National Organizing Committee

(AEA, 1957d, approximate pp. 206-207)


L. H. Adolfson

Leland P. Bradford

Edward Brice

Glen Burch

Sopie V. Cheskie, Director of Adult Education, Board of Education, Highland Park, MI

Eleanor G. Coit

John M. Cory

Thelma Dreis, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC

Paul H. Durrie, Des Moines Pub. Schools, Des Moines, IA

Fred K. Eshleman, Dean, Dearborn Jr. College, Dearborn, MI

E. Manfred Evans, Los Angeles City Schools, Los Angeles, CA

Herbert M. Hamlin, Agricultural Education, Dept., Univ. of Illinois, Urbana, IL

Andrew Hendrickson

Herbert C. Hunsaker

Homer Kempfer

Malcolm Knowles, Executive Secretary, Central YMCA, Chicago, IL

Robert A. Luke

Ralph McCallister

Howard Y. McClusky

Jean Carter Ogden, Ext. Div., Univ. of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

Everett C. Preston

Robert B. Sharer

Paul H. Sheats, Assoc. Director, Univ. Ext., Univ. of California, Los Angeles, CA

Robertson Sillars

Ralph B. Spence

Herbert Thelen, Univ. of Chicago, Chicago, IL

Thomas A. Van Sant

M. L. Wilson, Director, Ext. Work, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC

Shepherd L. Witman, Council of World Affairs, Cleveland, OH

Arnold Zopf, Director, Adult Education, St. Louis, MO


First AEA Elected Executive Body

Nation-wide Ballot Prior to the Founding Assembly

(News from the AEA, 1951)


Leland P. Bradford

Glen Burch

Eleanor G. Coit

John M. Cory

Paul H. Durrie

Paul L. Essert

Gladys Gallup

Herbert M. Hamlin

Margaret E. Hoke, Adult Education Council of Denver, Denver, CO

Herbert C. Hunsaker

Homer Kempfer

Malcolm S. Knowles

Fern Long, Cleveland Public Library, Cleveland, OH

Howard Y. McClusky

Everett C. Preston

Ernest H. Reed, International Harvester Co., Chicago, IL

Paul H. Sheats

Alice Sowers, Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK

Thomas A. Van Sant


Officers Elected at the Founding Assembly

(News from the AEA, 1951)


Leland Bradford, Exec. Committee Member

Edward Brice, Vice President

Glen Burch, Exec. Committee Member

Eleanor G. Coit, Exec. Committee Member

John M. Cory, Exec. Committee Member

Paul H. Durrie, Exec. Committee Member

Paul L. Essert, Exec. Committee Member

E. Manfred Evans, Vice President

Gladys Gallup, Exec. Committee Member

Herbert M. Hamlin, Exec. Committee Member

Margaret E. Hoke, Vice President

Herbert C. Hunsaker, Exec. Committee Member

Homer Kempfer, Exec. Committee Member

Malcolm S. Knowles, Exec. Committee Member

Fern Long, Secretary-Treasurer, Director of Adult Education, Cleveland Public Library, Cleveland, OH

Howard Y. McClusky, President

Everett C. Preston, Exec. Committee Member

Ernest H. Reed, Exec. Committee Member

Lawrence Rogin, Vice President, Director of Education, Textile Workers Union of America (CIO)

Paul H. Sheats, Exec. Committee Member

Alice Sowers, Exec. Committee Member

Thomas A. Van Sant, Exec. Committee Member

[Note: This became known as the Executive Committee]


Delegates-at-Large Elected the Delegate Assembly

At the Founding Assembly

(News from the AEA, 1951)


L. H. Adolfson, University of Wisconsin

William M. Cooper, Hampton Institute

Watson Dickerman, University of California

Thelma Drieis, U. S. Department of Agriculture

John Carr Duff, New York University

Andrew Hendrickson, Ohio State University

Cyril O. Houle, University of Chicago

Abbott Kaplan, University of California

Robert A. Luke, National Education Association

George C. Mann, California Department of Education

H. Curtis Mial, New York State Citizens Council

Jean Carter Ogden, University of Virginia

Robert E. Sharer, Michigan Dept. of Public Instruction

Robertson Sillars, Western Reserve University

Ralph B. Spence, Teachers College, Columbia Univ.

Mark Starr, Interntl. Ladies’ Garment Workers Union

Helen T. Steinbarer, Washington, DC, Public Library

Per G. Stensland, Kansas State College

M. L. Wilson, U. S. Department of Agriculture

Shepherd L. Witman, Cleveland Council on World Affairs


Staff Appointments

At the Founding Assembly

(News from the AEA, 1951)


Leland P. Bradford, Coordinator of Service Committees

Herbert C. Hunsaker, Coordination of Organizational Committees

Malcolm S. Knowles, Administrative Coordinator

Robert A. Luke, Coordinator of Field Services

Thomas A. Van Sant, Coordinator of Communities of Special Interest (he resigned from that task in July, 1951)

Robertson Sillars, Ed. of Adult Education & Administrative Secretary




            One of the important outcomes of that first meeting was that the new organization should be able to help adult education at the community level with such tasks as needs assessment, program planning, program coordination, evaluation, better utilization of community resources, training professional and non-professional adult educators, and simulating clientele involvement. Interestingly, even though there were only a few higher educators at that meeting, they also talked about developing programs of research, developing a functional philosophy of adult education, developing a professional status for the field, ensuring academic freedom, and interpreting adult education to the public, topics that might have been initiated by college and university personnel. My hidden video or sound recorder probably would have shown a high level of excitement and anticipation among JC members at the conclusion of this stimulating meeting.

            The second meeting of the JC was held March 1, 1950, in Atlantic City. In addition to being continued as Chair (at the first few JC meetings it was noted that Howard “was continued as Chair of the committee,” so they must have considered the leadership each time), Howard also agreed to serve on a sub-committee to study the needs of adult education workers and to study the functions of a national organization.

            The third JC meeting was April 14-15, 1950, in Washington, DC. A sub-committee was formed that included Howard to consider how the JC would participate in the AAAE’s 25th annual meeting scheduled for Cleveland, May 4-7. It was no doubt beneficial that Howard was on the program committee for that meeting. Howard agrees to present at the beginning of the first general assembly on the nature and work of the JC and to describe why a new organization was needed. This presentation became fodder for a two hour discussion that Howard conducted the afternoon of May 5.

            The next JC meeting was just after the conference on May 7. The initial discussions, facilitated by Howard, started with a general consideration of the positive reaction of the AAAE meeting attendees to the idea of a new association. However, there was recognition of the complexity of the task and during the AAAE meeting a resolution was approved calling for the JC to be reconstructed, to have new powers, to expand its membership, and to involve the adult education field more broadly (AAAE News, 1950). Howard agreed to provide leadership in forming a committee to work on methods, materials, development, and production related to a new organization. Obviously, I am concentrating only on three individuals in this paper, but identifying Howard’s very active involvement (as was true for Malcolm and Cy) in these paragraphs is very symbolic of the very active role he actually played. He seemed to volunteer (or be drafted) for many roles throughout the founding process.

            A very important meeting took place August 4-9, 1950, at the Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY (Westchester County), about 20 miles north of Manhattan. This was a workshop, referred to as a working conference, devoted to the formation of the new association. As Figure 2 also shows, in addition to many of the JC members, executive body members from AAAE and DAE and other very knowledgeable people participated. Incidentally, papers related to this meeting suggest that this may have been the first time the notion of a “Delegate Assembly” (an important feature of subsequent AEA conferences) was discussed (AEA, 1957d, approximate pp. 62-70).

During this meeting Howard, Leland Bradford, and Herb Hunsaker accepted responsibility for preparing an approach to a foundation to secure funds to help support the founding process. Howard agreed to participate in two smaller working groups in September. One of these was a committee on the organizing assembly planned for May, 1951 (AEA, 1957d, approximate p. 130). He also was suggested as the person to carry out primary responsibility for in-service training through what they envisioned as a College of Education (AEA, 1957d, approximate pp. 106, 108). Later this concept was referred to as the National Institute of Adult Education (AEA, 1957d, approximate p. 128). During a sub-group meeting at this working conference on the need for a council or some type of organization that would serve to bring together leaders from a variety of associations or groups periodically for discussions and coordination efforts, Howard suggested the first name for such a group: National Association for Adult Education and Federated Organizations (AEA, 1957d, approximate p. 94).

            Howard also agreed to seek the assistance of a university audio-visual department in preparing a filmstrip to entice other organizations to join in the formation process. I don’t know if such a film strip was actually developed, but something helped bring a large number of groups into the founding process for at least a part of the time. Figure 3 portrays as many of those groups as I could find mention of in some way.

A small working group from the JC referring to themselves as a steering committee met in New York City on September 1-2, 1950. Howard was not at that meeting, but once again was called upon for leadership as he was suggested as the person to serve as chair of an upcoming luncheon meeting (October 19) before the annual DAE conference. Out of that meeting came a couple of planning documents and a report to the JCSAE. By October appointments were made to what was initially referred to as the “Planning Committee for the Organizing Committee for a National Association of Adult Education.” I think wisdom prevailed regarding that very long name and it was thereafter known as the National Organizing Committee, or NOC (AEA, 1957d, approximate pp. 116-117).

            As shown in the earlier Figure 2, those appointed to the NOC were many people who had previously been involved, but there also were several new ones (including some future AEA presidents and Malcolm Knowles). Several members of the NOC (including Malcolm) met October 21-22, 1950, in Chicago. Officials designated to represent the AAAE and DAE received and approved a JC report and then authorized the NOC to complete plans for a new association and to arrange for its establishment. Malcolm agreed to be part of the committee designated to plan for the founding assembly in May of 1951 slated for Cleveland, Ohio. Howard was also placed on this committee. Malcolm proposed a number of areas that needed to be studied prior to the new association’s first conference scheduled for October of 1951 (AEA, 1957d, approximate pp. 134-142). The first name was proposed for the new organization: “National Association of Adult Education” (Toward a New Association, 1950, p. 12)

            A large group of NOC members, referred to as the group’s National Planning Committee, met in Ann Arbor, MI, December 15-17, 1950. Howard and Malcolm were involved in this meeting. They discussed the planning process and progress (AEA, 1957d, approximate pp. 155-159). They met again February 22-24, 1951, in Princeton, NJ, for more planning activities pertaining to the upcoming Founding Assembly. Howard also talked about the National Institute of Adult Education idea and wanted it to focus on continuous training in many organizations and institutions. He hoped to have several institutes underway by the next summer (AEA, 1957d, approximate pp. 180-183). A sub-group met in Ann Arbor, March 22-23, 1951, to talk more about the National Institute idea with Howard chairing this meeting. Group members saw the Institute as a program of professional training opportunities sponsored by the national association of cooperating universities. It was defined not as an actual institution, but rather a series of different training ventures and occasional “conceptualizing conferences” on the methods, scope, and problems of adult education (AEA, 1957d, approximate pp. 201-202). Howard agreed to be part of a sub-committee to plan this further. I actually could not find later evidence that this notion of institutes really involved actual or deliberate efforts to establish such training initiatives, so further study is needed to follow this exciting idea.

American Association for Adult Education (AAAE)

American Association of Group Workers (AAGW)

American Council on Education (ACE)

American Jewish Committee (AJC)

American Labor Education Service (ALES)

American Library Association (ALA)

American Medical Association (AMA)

Association of University Evening Colleges (AUEC)

American Vocational Association (AVA)

Chamber of Commerce of the U.S.A.

Committee of Industrial Organization’s (CIO) Department of Education

Council on World Affairs

Department of Adult Education, NEA

Educational Film Library Association (EFLA)

Federal Security Agency, Office of Education

Film Council of America (FCA)

General Federation of Women’s Clubs

Junior Chamber of Commerce (JCC)

League of Women Voters

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

National Association of Educational Broadcasters (NAEB)

National Conference on Adult Education and the Negro (NCAEN)

National Conference of Christians and Jews (NCCJ)

National Farmers Union

National Grange

National Recreation Association (NRA)

National University Extension Association (NUEA)

National Urban League

National Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association (NVATA)

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Workers Education Bureau, American Federation of Labor (WEB)


Figure 3. Associations, Groups, and Organizations Involved in Some Capacity with Early Founding Efforts



            The AAAE and DAE executive officers cooperated in disseminating a write-in mail ballot before the Founding Assembly. That process was completed during April of 1951 and Figure 2 shows the first AEA elected executive body. Those who had been previously involved in various meetings or working conferences made up the bulk of the elected members, but there were a few additions.

            The Founding Assembly took place May 13-15, 1951, at the Deshler-Wallick Hotel in Columbus, Ohio. You wouldn’t have to access my hidden video or sound recorder to imagine the excitement that must have been rampant during those days. Sure it was moving into new territory and giving up membership in one or two associations with which an affiliation had been a part of most participants’ lives, but being able to be part of something new must also have been gratifying for those involved.

            Howard started off the Sunday morning session with a speech entitled, “Adult Education in the Defense of a Free People.” It was depicted as having been a “stirring opening address” (Founding Assembly Flashes, 1951, p. 163). Having heard Howard speak many times, I am sure that it set a very positive tone for the meeting. Other memorable activities during those three days no doubt included the presentation of the proposed constitution, further elections, the ceremonial dissolution of the AEA and DAE, and Paul Sheats closing speech, “The Adult Education Association in a Changing Society” (AEA, 1957d, approximate p. 209).

            I would love to have been there when it came time to decide on the actual name of the new association. The name finally proposed by the Organizing and Constitutional Revision Committees, “National Association for Adult Education,” did not go over well with some. Foster Parmelee of the Business Educational Directors, New York City, made an impassioned plea “for specifying which nation we are working in” (Founding Assembly Flashes, 1951, p. 163). The proposed name was then unanimously rejected. Mr. Parmelee subsequently made a motion that the Assembly choose the name, “Adult Education Association of the United States of America,” and it was approved.

            On May 15 members of the Executive Committee met. Staffing, budget issues, and committee needs were discussed. A vote was taken to have an administrative coordinator. On the 17th after the conference an Interim Committee (Howard, Leland Bradford, and Herbert Hunsaker) made several staff appointments (see Figure 2), including Malcolm as Administrative Coordinator (AEA, 1957c, approximate p. 13). Initially these appointees all were without salary pending a better understanding of the financial situation. Malcolm and Howard were both among the designees to work with the publication project, with Howard heading up a sub-committee charged with evaluating the need for a new journal. The new journal was initially called Leadership (AEA, 1957c, approximate p. 14).

            A larger interim committee (Bradford, Hunsaker, Kempfer, Luke, McClusky, Sheats, and Sillars) met July 6-8, 1951, to talk further about the publication, the qualifications needed in a full-time administrative coordinator, and the expectations this person also would be the project director for the new publication. They also did some planning for the first AEA conference slated for October.

            The Executive Committee met in Chicago, September 6-8, 1951. A unanimous ballot was officially cast for Malcolm as Project Director of the Publication Project and Administrative Coordinator, beginning September 10, 1951, for a salary of $10,000 per year, one month vacation, and 15 days of sick leave. Malcolm agreed, but did not actually start until September 20. The initial Chicago office was in the American Library Association building.

The Executive Committee met October 21-26, 1951, in Los Angeles both before and during the first AEA conference. Malcolm made his first report on the financial situation. The budget was based on an ambitious expectation regarding the number of members who would join the association the first year.

The first AEA conference was October 22-25, 1951, in the Alexandria Hotel in Los Angeles. Howard gave a presentation on the opening day entitled, “Exposition of the Constitution and Structural Staff of the Adult Education Association of the U.S.A.” As an aside, at the conference the Delegate Assembly made a request that the newly-formed NAPSAE become an affiliated organization within AEA. Those of you familiar with some of the history of the relationship over the years between AEA and NAPSAE (and NAPCAE) will find this interesting.

            The Executive Committee next met in New York City on February 1-3, 1952. Malcolm reported that AEA had 3158 members as of January. This was slightly lower than anticipated. The name Adult Leadership was chosen as the name for the new publication (AEA, 1957c, approximate p. 43).  They met again April 26-28, 1952, in E. Lansing. In the minutes of that meeting was the following comment: “It is understood that the Council of Public School Adult Education Administrators will be free to establish its own organization and structure within the framework of AEA” (AEA, 1957c, approximate p. 66) (note the different name used for NAPSAE), bringing to the forefront again the issue of how best to work with public school adult educators. Time also was spent on evaluating the progress on Adult Leadership. They began the notion, too, that there should be at least a 4-year conference planning cycle.

            Adult Leadership was initially slated to come out in January, 1952, then April, 1952, and the first issue finally appeared in May of 1952. Malcolm is listed as project director of the editorial staff and Howard is listed as on the operations committee. The magazine featured lots of cartoons, tips, and practical articles. I found interesting a feature written in a short story format entitled, Dan’s Turn. It was billed as a “true-to-life short story about what happened to Dan Mathews when he suddenly found himself named program chairman” (Laue, 1952, p. 3). It described some of the pitfalls in the planning process. It was fun to read and I wish the magazine had repeated that format in later issues.

            The Executive Committee next met October 23-24, 1952, in East Lansing just after the second annual conference. Cy had been elected to the Executive Board in the prior election. This may have been the first time that all three were together for an AEA-related meeting. Cy immediately stepped up and took on leadership roles, as he was appointed chair of the Information Clearinghouse Committee (AEA, 1957c, approximate p. 78). Howard, Cy, and Paul Durrie also were appointed as a committee to meet with the United States Department of Education and work out a closer relationship. This may have been AEA’s first lobbying effort. Cy also was named as chair of the resolutions committee (whew, it makes me tired just to think about the heavy involvement of people like the three subjects of this paper).

            On December 12-14, 1952, the Executive Committee met in Chicago. The Information Clearinghouse name was changed to the AEA Resources Center and I can almost see Cy’s hand in this name change. They also noted at this meeting the association’s failure to make satisfactory progress in meeting membership goals of 10,000 members and that it was creating budget problems, a situation that came back to haunt AEA many times in later years. Malcolm and Howard also were among a group of people who had met with representatives of the AFL.

            The Steering Committee met in Washington, DC, February 17-20, 1953, with Howard and Malcolm both contributing to the discussions. It was noted again there were budget problems and that deficits were predicted. The same committee met again in Washington, June 13-15, 1953, and budget problems were once more a central topic. A decision was made to move the Area Organization and Conference Program office to Washington, DC, from Cleveland, because of a feeling that too many offices might be spreading things too thinly and adding to the budget crisis. Malcolm also agreed to move to full time as Administrative Coordinator and relinquish his Adult Leadership project leadership role.

            The Executive Committee met September 11-13, 1953, in Chicago. Immediately prior to this meeting Howard and Malcolm were among a group that met with the staff of the Fund for Adult Education (FAE) in Highland Park, Illinois. During the Executive Committee meeting Howard agreed to chair a committee to collaborate with the FAE in various ways (AEA, 1957c, approximate p. 164).

            The 3rd AEA Conference was October 26-29, 1953, in New York City. Cy was voted in as a Vice President (Actions of the Delegate Assembly, 1953). Howard was noted on the conference program as Chair of the AEA Committee on Adult Education and Community Development, very much in keeping with his academic interests. This also marked the first national conference of NAPSAE, noted as an affiliate of AEA, held October 25-25 in New York City, too (NAPSAE’s First National Conference, 1953). This may have represented some of the future tension that came to exist between the two groups in later years.

            An Executive Committee met on October 31 and November 1, 1953, after the conference with Malcolm and Cy among those in attendance. There was considerable discussion about budget and the need to be realistic, as well as how to approach the FAE for funding support. As a predictor of one of Cy’s future areas of leadership within AEA, international activities, he wrote an article for Adult Education related to some of his Fulbright study efforts in Great Britain (Houle, 1953).

            The Steering Committee met in Washington, DC, December 12-14, 1953. At that meeting Cy was named to chair a five person committee to work with the American Library Association on projects of mutual interests. Here is another instance of how one of our subjects, Cy, was willing to work in an area matching his academic interests. Malcolm became part of a committee to select candidates for future International Study Tours (AEA, 1957c, approximate pp. 182-187). Soon after that, in a memo dated December 23, 1953, Cy sent a rather interesting letter to Paul Sheats (then AEA President) raising several questions about staffing policy and who has what authority to do what (AEA, 1957c, approximate pp. 192-193). I think Cy was taking serious his role as a leader on the Executive Committee.

            On April 2-4, 1954, the Executive Committee met in E. Lansing, with Howard and Malcolm both in attendance. As Howard no longer had a formal role with the Executive Committee, one can assume he still felt he could contribute, and continued to attend such meetings. In the minutes is a report that Cy and Edward Hutchinson of the National Institute for Adult Education (England and Wales) had both signed an agreement proposing a venture pertaining to joint library-related activities (AEA, 1957c, approximate p. 220).

            The September 9-11, 1954, Executive Committee meeting in Chicago finally put the AEA budget into a positive light. FAE funds that had been received, increasing membership, and an increasing number of magazine subscribers helped a report that “the financial condition of the AEA is sound. Income is running slightly above budget and expenses are running slightly below budget” (AEA, 1957c, approximate p. 229). If only that good news could have continued far into the future.

            The 4th AEA conference was November 5-10, 1954, in Chicago. Cy was once again voted in as a vice president. The Executive Committee met after the conference from the 11th-13th. It was noted that NAPSAE and AEA were to meet in St. Louis at different hotels but with overlapping time periods. This is noteworthy in that Robert Luke wrote an article about the interesting relationship between AEA and NAPSAE and what that might mean for the future (Luke, 1954). Reading the article suggested at least to me that there was a growing strain that would later manifest itself in the two groups separating, and, of course, many years later coming together again. At this meeting is also was noted that Howard would be on the 1955 conference program committee, he would co-chair the community development committee, and that he was named to be part of a two-year project in leadership training related to the education of the older adult, continuing his involvement in areas of academic interest (AEA, 1957c, approximate pp. 244-261). Cy also was named to chair the administrative policy committee and to continue chairing the ALA-AEA joint committee.

            The Executive Committee met in New York City, February 19-21, 1955, and again May 13-15, 1955, in Chicago with Malcolm and Cy in attendance at both meetings. On April 22-23, 1955, the AEA Development Committee met in Washington, DC to talk about future funding and securing additional funds from foundations. Howard and Malcolm both participated in this meeting.

            On June 18, 1955, the Steering Committee met in Chicago with Cy and Malcolm in attendance. Cy was named on a committee to look into personnel and tax exemption issues. On September 9-11, 1955, the Executive Committee met in Chicago.

The 5th AEA conference was November 11-13, 1955, in St. Louis. Cy and Howard both made speeches at this conference. For example, Howard and Cy both were part of a group talking about “Is There a Profession of Adult Education”? I think I just recently attended a conference session with almost the same title. Cy, later in the conference, gave a speech that almost sounds like it could have been delivered by Howard entitled, “The Future Role of Adult Education in Development of the Community.” Cy also requested of the Steering Committee that he receive approval to sponsor a project to reprint reports of the Committee on Adult Education of Great Britain after he gave a report on progress in the study of the role of universities in world affairs.

            That ends my reporting on the 1949-1955 founding process and how Howard, Malcolm, and Cy were heavily involved in that process. This has been a long section lumbering somewhat laboriously through the various committee meetings and conferences pertaining to the founding process selected for this research. However, I felt it necessary to show considerable evidence of the involvement by all three of the paper’s subjects in that process. In the next section I try to make a little more sense out of it.


What Can We Learn From the Involvement of Howard, Malcolm, and Cy?


            I said earlier in this paper that in some respects Howard, Malcolm and Cy were the right people in the right place at the right time. In reality, though, it was much more than that. I think we can learn a lot about the field of adult education, the importance of leadership as a quality, and even about ourselves by looking at the contributions these three outstanding people made. In many respects, that is the power historical research plays by enhancing our understanding a little more.

            It is clear, at least to me and I hope somewhat for you, too, based on the last section that each of the three played a very important role in the founding process and had a tremendous impact on the growth and development of the adult education field. Howard did it through his willingness to stand up very early in the process and agree to accept major leadership roles. He could have said no many times, but it almost appears that he never said no and just kept assuming new tasks. His being elected chair of the JC came, I suspect, from others recognizing his prior contributions to the field and the founding process, his reputation as both a hard worker and a scholar, and the respect he had from colleagues as a fair and conscientious person. However, he showed time and time again a tireless ability to shoulder a very large load and to make sure things were getting done during those no doubt tricky first couple of years. I remember Howard as a fairly quiet, even humble man, which could have been misinterpreted as almost laissez faire in nature. However, he clearly led by example. Howard also made several contributions related to his academic interests in community development and education for the aging person.

            Malcolm, as many of you will remember, was a bubbly, energetic, self-confident, even charismatic individual. Obviously, not many of us here today knew Malcolm when he was in his 30s, but I suspect he was not afraid to run a meeting, direct others in their efforts, and put a practical spin to moving the association forward. In many respects, he was a leader through his ability to see things through and to persuade others to work hard.

            Cy was perhaps the most intellectual and formal of the three (and some of you may want to debate me on this observation). I have always thought of Cy as somewhat quiet and reserved. Thus, I was somewhat surprised to find out how actively he jumped into the fray, so to speak, after being elected to the Executive Board in 1952. He readily accepted considerable responsibility. My hidden video or sound recorder might have confirmed my suggestion that Cy may have been playing the “Yin” to Malcolm’s “Yang,” although some of you may want to question my choice of that metaphor, but I think you get my point. Cy was a leader who stepped in when needed and also made sure that AEA carried out some programming related to his interests in libraries and international cooperation.

            Would AEA have flourished without Howard, Malcolm, and Cy’s involvement. The obvious answer is yes, because so many excellent leaders were involved in the founding process. The fact that it did survive for so many years before it and NAPCAE morphed into the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education, is proof that good leaders kept emerging (many of them in this room today). However, even though I chose to concentrate primarily on the three people I did, I was surprised at the level of involvement of all three. Each made important contributions during the founding process and “stamped” the association with aspects of their lives, beliefs, and energy in ways that helped turn AEA into the viable organization it became for so many years.

            What can we then learn from this research? Three things stand out in my mind. The first is that historical research can be a valuable tool in increasing our understanding of an event, a process, and even the long-term success of what that process started. That is a self-evident statement, but I believe too often historical research is overlooked in the reductionism efforts by some scholars to manage or manipulate relationships so new knowledge can be identified or pinpointed with high degrees of reliability and validity. Historical research and various qualitative approaches have received considerably favorable interest in the past 15-20 years, but we should continue that by insisting our upcoming scholars have good historical research skills.

            Second, there is so much more that needs to be learned about the founding of AEA as I only have scratched the surface. However, even by concentrating my focus primarily on three people, I began to obtain some insight into the importance of process, of involving individuals who represent a broad perspective in terms of views, experiences, and professional backgrounds, and of identifying individuals willing to work tirelessly to see an effort through. The failed dot coms of the past decade could learn much from such insights. I suggest some ideas about what else there is to be learned in the final section.

            Third, the identification and selection of individuals in the successful development of an organization is crucial. Being able to identify and isolate qualities of effective leadership may help in future development efforts. I am not sure I am really plowing new ground here as there have been many past efforts to research and describe good leadership. However, by living with Howard, Malcolm, and Cy’s contributions to the founding of AEA for the past couple of months, I offer some ideas on what I think may have differentiated them from others in terms of the qualities that seemed common to all three:


1. A passion for what they commit to do. I mean here the ability to reach deep inside yourself and find that passion that will drive you to new levels of energy, excitement, and resolve. Whether it was Howard giving a speech about adult education in the defense of free people, Malcolm giving up a successful career with the YMCA, or Cy writing an impassioned letter about staffing policy, I saw this quality in each.

2. An ability to work hard. I stand in awe of the ability each had to spend so many hours involved in some way with the founding process. The fact that Howard and Cy had full-time jobs elsewhere during the process and that all three kept up an impressive amount of scholarship, too, makes me shake my head in wonder. Perhaps they don’t make them like they used to!

3. A never fading commitment. Each of the three demonstrated their commitment to seeing the founding process through in so many ways by the time they put in, their many contributions, and their tireless efforts to enhance the developing organization. The fact that Howard still stayed somehow involved during the entire time period even after all his formal or elected roles had ended is symbolic of such commitment. He even wrote articles about AEA many years later (McClusky, 1971, 1982).

4. A love of working with others. I knew Cy the least well so am not quite sure how well this quality fits his rather formal demeanor at times. However, Howard and Malcolm obviously loved people, loved to be around them, and loved the synergism that flowed from being with others. Those of you who knew Howard, for example, remember how much he was loved by others, too. Lines of people would form around Howard at AEA conferences as they waited for an opportunity to talk with him.

5. A willingness to step into the breach. Even though each always had a full plate with their writing, public speaking, and consulting, they willingly accepted the responsibilities thrown their way throughout the founding process. Stepping into the breach can be scary at times, and not all potential leaders have that courage. Fortunately for us, Howard, Malcolm, and Cy certainly had such courage.

6. A willingness to take on leadership roles. It is one thing to work very hard and to even step into the breach, but constantly accepting new leadership roles, whether they be appointed, elected, or self-selected, is a separate quality in my view. Each of the three demonstrated this willingness time and time again.

7. A willingness to travel. As most of us here can attest to, travel can be just plain hard work. Sleeping in different beds ever few nights, driving a car many miles or traveling in a bus, train, or plane for hours, and eating hotel food can take its toll. Howard once told me that he had drunk enough institutionally made coffee to sink a battleship. Yet, each of the three certainly had to have traveled frequently and far during the founding process.

8. A real genuineness. As I mentioned above I did not know Cy as well as the other two, and, in reality, I did not personally know Malcolm all that well either. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to have spent considerable time with Howard and I can say I don’t think I ever met anyone any more genuine that he. My sense is that Malcolm and Cy were both quite genuine, too.


            Well, that is my take on those qualities that may have differentiated them from other leaders. Can this information be used to mold or identify future leaders? I leave that to your evaluation for now. I do know that such qualities are something I can embrace and perhaps incorporate in various ways in the years of leadership I have remaining before me.


Future Research Recommendations


            It is difficult for a scholar to end a research effort without making some suggestions about future research needs. Certainly as I went through my examination of available documents and thought about what I was learning, several unanswered questions popped into my mind.


1. Figure 1 reveals that the AAAE and DAE attempted to develop a closer working relationship during the years 1943 and 1944 that failed. Then in 1946 some groups (including AAAE and DAE) came together in a national meeting that resulted in the formation of the JCSAE. However, I don’t know what all went on between then and 1949 when some things started happening. Future research that reports on this would be welcome.

2. Figure 3 depicts the various associations, organizations, and groups that appeared to have been somehow involved in the founding process. However, there were obvious differences in the nature of that involvement and some of them may only have been involved for a short period of time. I hope some future research effort can concentrate on better understanding the nature of this involvement.

3. Throughout my examination of the four documents and other materials, I found occasional discussion of efforts to build a council or federation of various associations and organizations that in some way worked with the education of adults. I hope some future research can trace such efforts and find out how valuable the resulting organizations or groups were in terms of coordinated efforts.

4. In this paper I have cited five different periodicals. Each had its unique slant on how to present scholarship to its readers. A ripe topic for future research would be an effort to examine the various kinds of periodicals related to adult education that existed in the last century and determine their impact on the field.

5. In my research efforts I found mention of the concept of “lifelong learning” even back in the late 40s and early 50s. Another good topic for research would be to trace the derivation of that term or concept and determine how it manifested itself in terms of programs, thought processes, and even legislation (i.e., the Lifelong Learning Act of the late 70s).

6. One of the prevailing themes throughout my research period and, certainly, later in the life of AEA, was the difficulties the organization faced financially. I hope someone will do some research on what works and what does not work in terms of financial success for a professional association.

7. I found it intriguing that AEA started with four office sites (Chicago, Cleveland, New York City, and Washington, DC), but I never found the rationale for that decision. Was it political, an appeasement effort, or financial in nature? Why did the Cleveland office seem to loose out relatively quickly in the process when cost cutting because necessary? Research on these questions would prove useful.

8. It was also interesting to read about the conflicts that emerged fairly early between public school adult educators and other adult educators. This manifested itself in a strong sub-group, extensive discussions in Delegate Assembly sessions, eventually a separate organization, and even an eventual coming together again when finances dictated it in the 80s. Considerable research is needed to understand this whole process.


            Let me end by repeating what I began this paper with and that is the pleasure I experienced in completing this effort. Personally I learned much and hope I was able to share some of this learning with you. Albert Einstein is reported to have said, “I see far because I stand on the shoulders of giants.” Certainly Howard, Malcolm, and Cy were giants in our field. I feel like I can still stand on their shoulders and it is not altitude sickness I experience. It is gratitude for having known them, thankfulness for what they did for the field, and respect for the modeling they did on what it means to be a professional adult educator.





            A.A.A.E. News. (1945). Adult Education Journal, 4, 128-129.

            A.A.A.E. News. (1946). Adult Education Journal, 5, 142-144.

AAAE News. (1950). Adult Education Journal, 9, 102-108.

AAAE Officers. (1950). Adult Education Journal, 9, 97.

Actions of the Delegate Assembly. (1953). Adult Education, 4, 32-40.

AEA. (1957a). Annual reports, 1951-1955. Washington, DC: Author.

AEA. (1957b). Delegate assembly documents, 1951-1955. Washington, DC: Author.

AEA. (1957c). Executive committee minutes, 1951-1955. Washington, DC: Author.

AEA. (1957d). Founding documents, 1949-1951. Washington, DC: Author.

Associate Editors. (1942). Adult Education Bulletin, 7, 2.

Associate Editors. (1947). Adult Education Bulletin, 12, 2.

Department of Adult Education Officers. (1946). Adult Education Bulletin, 10, 189.

First Annual Report of the AEA of the U.S.A. (June 1, 1951 to May 31, 1952). (1952). In AEA, 1957a, pp. 1-23.

Founding Assembly Flashes. (1951). Adult Education, 1, 163.

            Hiemstra, R. (1980). Howard Yale McClusky: Adult education pioneer statesman. Lifelong Learning: The Adult Years, 4(2), 5-7, 25. Retrieved March 1, 2003, from /hymcllay.html

            Hiemstra, R. (1981). The contributions of Howard Yale McClusky to an evolving discipline of educational gerontology.  Educational Gerontology, 6, 209-226. Retrieved March 1, 2003, from /hymcedgero.html

            Hiemstra, R. (1993). Three underdeveloped models for adult learning. In S. B. Merriam (Ed.), An update on adult learning theory (New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, No. 57, pp. 37-46). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

            Hiemstra, R. (1998). From whence have we come: The first twenty-five years of educational gerontology. In J. C. Fisher & M. A. Wolf (Eds.). Using learning to meet the challenges of older adulthood (New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, No. 77, pp. 5-14). San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

            Hiemstra, R. (2003). The adult education history project. Retrieved March 1, 2003, from /history.html

            Hiemstra, R., & McClusky, H. Y. (1968). Instructional programs in the adult education approach to community development.  Paper presented at the AEA of the USA Annual Conference, Des Moines, Iowa.

            Houle, C. O. (1941). Opportunities for the professional study of adult education—1941. Adult Education Bulletin, 5, 81-85.

            Houle, C. O. (1953). …and knowledge shall be increased. Adult Education, 3, 184-190.

            Houle, C. O. (1992). The literature of adult education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

            Knowles, M. S. (1950). Informal adult education: A guide for administrators, leaders, and teachers. New York: Association Press.

            Knowles, M. S. (1962). The adult education movement in the United States. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

            Knowles, M. S. (1970). Modern practice of adult education: Andragogy vs. pedagogy. Chicago: Association Press.

            Knowles, M. S. (1989). The making of an adult educator: An autobiographical journey. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Knowles, M. S. (Speaker), & Hiemstra, R. (Interviewer). (1972). Andragogy (Video Recording, 30 minutes). Lincoln, NE: NETCHE, Inc., 1800 N. 33rd St., Lincoln, NE 68583.

            Laue, G. P. (1952). Dan’s turn. Adult Leadership, 1(1), 3-10.

            Luke, R. A. (1954). NAPSAE-AEA Relationships. Adult Education, 5, 62-67.

            McClusky, H. Y. (1939a). The community seminar for adult education. The School Review, 47, 331-334.

McClusky, H. Y. (1939b). Mobilizing the community for adult education. Michigan Alumnus, The Quarterly Review, 45, 206212.

McClusky, H. (1971). The AEA/USA: Why and what it must be. Adult Leadership, 20(4), 126-128, 152-154.

McClusky, H. Y. (1982). The legacy of the AEA/USA. Lifelong Learning: The Adult Years, 6(2), 4-6.

NAPSAE’s First National Conference. (1953). Adult Education, 4, 40.

News from the AEA. (1951). Adult Education, 1, 164-170.

Over the Editor’s Desk. (1950). Adult Education, 1, 31-35.

Toward a new association. (1950). Adult Education, 1, 5-12.



Return to Opening Page