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Hollis Caswell
Born October 22, 1901(1901-10-22)
Woodruff, Kansas, U.S.
Died November 22, 1988 (aged 87)
Santa Barbara, California, U.S.
Occupation Educator

Hollis Leland Caswell (October 22, 1901 - Nov 22, 1988)[1] was an American educator who became an authority on curriculum planning in schools. He directed surveys of curriculum practices in several school systems, and wrote several books on the subject including; "Education in Middle School," published in 1942, and "Program-Making in Small Elementary Schools," published in 1942.[1]

Caswell joined the editorial advisory board of the World Book Encyclopedia in 1936, and became its chairman in 1948. In 1954, Caswell was appointed president of Teachers College at Columbia University in New York City, and served as president until 1962.[2]

From 1962-1966, Caswell served as general chairman of editorial advisory boards for Field Enterprises Educational Corporation.[2]

Following his retirement as president at Teachers College, Caswell was appointed to the Marshall Field, Jr., Professorship of Education.

Early Life and Career

Caswell was a descendant of homesteaders. He went to a rural high school in western Kansas and attended Kansas State University for two years before transferring to the University of Nebraska, where he received a bachelor's degree in 1922.[1]

Planning to go to law school, he took a temporary job teaching at the high school in Auburn, Nebraska. After he was appointed principal at the age of 21, he gave up his ambition to become a lawyer and devoted his full energies to teaching. After two years in Auburn, he was named superintendent of schools in Syracuse, Nebraska. In 1926 he enrolled in Teachers College, earning a master's degree the following year and a doctorate in 1929.[1]

That same year Dr. Caswell joined the faculty of George Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee; now affiliated with Vanderbilt University, and rose to become a full professor before he returned to Teachers College nine years later to head its department of curriculum and teaching and to direct its division of instruction. [1]

Education Reform

In the years after World War II, Dr. Caswell opposed efforts to develop a standard national curriculum for public schools, arguing instead for more differentiation in teaching methods. He called for strengthening university centers that influence curriculums and teacher training. Outspoken on Education

He was frequently outspoken on educational subjects and did not shun controversy. In 1958, in a speech at a conference in Albany, he welcomed citizen interest in schools but opposed participation by people who were not educators in planning curriculums.

"What should be taught in American history," he said, "should not be left up to historians and not to citizens' committees."[1]

Dr. Caswell also disputed campaigns to do away with some of the so-called frills in education, contending, for example, that driver training was worthwhile because it cut accidents and that the draft in World War II had taught that physical education wasn't a frill either.

In the two decades before his retirement, Dr. Caswell was a principal editorial adviser to the World Book Encyclopedia, published by Field Enterprises. He also was a consultant to many state education departments and municipal school systems and held a number of high positions in national educational organizations, including the National Education Association and the American Council on Education.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g
  2. ^ a b Saylor, J. Galen, ed. (1970), The World Book Encyclopedia, Field Enterprises, p. 211  .


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