Featuring Historical Textbooks to Build Knowledge of University History


  • Bette Rathe University of Northern Colorado
  • Kay Lowell University of Northern Colorado




Undergraduate students at a teacher education institution, the University of Northern Colorado, are the target audience for an exhibit of a reading series from the Libraries’ Archival Services collections. The display highlights an important era in the university’s history involving four faculty members: Paul McKee, M. Lucile Harrison, Annie McCowen, and Elizabeth Lehr. These professors developed an innovative approach to early reading instruction that was incorporated into their reading textbook series during a time of uniformity in reading textbooks. The rationale for the display was based on research about the Reading for Meaning series discussed in this article.



Aukerman, R. C. (1981). The Houghton Mifflin Reading Program, 1981. In The basal reader approach to reading (pp. 159-174). New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Bliesmer, E. P., & Yarborough, B. H. (1965). A comparison

of ten different beginning reading programs in first grade. Phi Delta Kappan, 46, 500-504.

Broadhead, C. A. (1952). The reading center: An in-service training program. Elementary School Journal, 52, 335- 339.

Carter, A. F., & Kendel, E. H. (1930). Forty years of Colorado State Teachers College, formerly the State Normal School of Colorado, 1890-1930. Greeley, CO: Tribune-Republican Publishing.

Chall, J. S. (1967). Learning to read:The great debate. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Chall, J. S., & Squire, J. R. (1991). The publishing industry and textbooks. In R. Barr, M. L. Kamil, P. B. Mosenthal, & P. D. Pearson (Eds.), Handbook of Reading Research, Volume II (pp. 120-146). New York: Longman.

Dondero, G. L. (1951). What’s new in basal readers. Grade Teacher, 69, 85-87.

Dutka, A., Hayes, S., & Parnell, J. (2002). The surprise part of a librarian’s life: Exhibition design and preparation course College & Research Libraries News, 63(1), 19- 22.

Flesch, R. (1955). Why Johnny can’t read – and what you

can do about it. New York: Harper & Brothers.

Guthrie, E. (2003). Uncovering Coker: Revealing the life a botanist through a special collections exhibit (Master’s thesis, University of North Carolina, 2003). Retrieved from http://ils.unc.edu/MSpapers/2879.pdf

Israel, S. E., & Monaghan, J. E. (Eds.). (2007). Shaping the reading field. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Larson, R. W. (1988). Shaping educational change: The first century of the University of Northern Colorado at Greeley Boulder: Colorado Associated University Press.

Maslin, P. (2007). Comparison of readability and decodability levels across five first grade basal programs. Reading Improvement, 44(2), 59-75.

McCowen, A. M. (2002). Twenty years in the life of Annie Margaret McCowen, educator and author: Selections from her diaries, 1936-1955(G. McCowen, Ed.). Unpublished manuscript.

McKee, P., & Harrison, M.L. (1957). Learning letter sounds. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Miller, H. T. (2003). Publishing: A leap from mind to mind. Golden, CO: Fulcrum.

Monaghan, E. J. (1994). Gender and textbooks: Women

writers of elementary readers, 1880-1950. Publishing

Research Quarterly, 10(1), 28-47. Retrieved from Communication & Mass Media Complete database.

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Pearson, P. D. (2000). Reading in the twentieth century. In M. Early (Series Ed.) & T. L. Good (Vol. Ed.), American education: Yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Ninety-ninth yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education. (Pt. II, pp. 152-208). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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basal readers. Elementary English, 40, 420-427.

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Volk, T. M. (2007). “Charts and other paraphernalia”: Charles H. Congdon (1856-1928) and his music teaching materials. Journal of Research in Music Education, 55(4), 302-12. Retrieved from Education Full Text database.

Waite, R. R. (1968). Further attempts to integrate and urbanize first grade reading textbooks: A research study. Journal of Negro Education, 37(1), 62-69. Retrieved from JSTOR database.

Witham, A. P. (1963). The index to reading material: Basal and co-basal reading series. Elementary English, 40, 194-201.