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Adult Education Association (AEA-USA)/American Association for Adult and Continuing Education (AAACE) Records

An inventory of its records at Syracuse University

The adult education holdings are collectively known as the
Alexander N. Charters Library of Resources for Educators of Adults.

Finding aid created by: [Summit record]
Date: 2001-01-01

Biographical History

Adult Education Association of the United States (AEA-USA)

The AEA-USA was founded in Columbus, Ohio, in May 1951 as the result of the joint efforts of the American Association for Adult Education (supported by the Carnegie Foundation) and the Department of Adult Education of the National Education Association. These two organizations dissolved in 1951 and their memberships joined to form the membership of the new organization with offices in Chicago, Illinois. The purpose of the organization was to unite all professional and non-professional adult educators in a single national organization to facilitate communication in the emerging field of adult education. In accordance with this goal the AEA formed the subsidiary Council of National Organizations for Adult Education (CNO) in 1952 in order "to establish closer communication and exchange of experience between organizations and individuals working in different fields."

Gradually the goals of AEA-USA expanded to encompass all activities designed "to further the acceptance of education as a process continuing through-out life; to afford opportunities to professional and non-professional adult educators to increase their competence; to receive and disseminate information about adult education; to promote a balanced development of educational services for adults; and to cooperate with adult education agencies internationally." In order to lobby effectively for the moral and financial support of adult education, the offices of the organization were moved to Washington, D.C., in 1964.

AEA-USA offered general, student, professional, and organizational memberships. Member services included periodicals, special publications, field service, consultation, reference services, and the membership directory. Standing committees included Annual Nominations and Elections, Membership and Field Services, Publications, Social Philosophy, Finance and Development, and Legislative Policy. The wide areas of AEA interest were also reflected in its commissions and sections. Commissions included the Commission on Research in Adult Education, the Council of State Associations, the Commission of Professors of Adult Education, and the Commission on Adult Basic Education, while sections included Armed Forces Education and Training, Community College Adult Education, Correctional Institutions, International Affairs, Liberal Adult Education, and Religious Adult Education, among others.

Other activities of the organization included a clearinghouse of information, a referral center, an annual national conference, publications, and its commissions, councils, and special sections, which conduct research and hold workshops. The two regular publications of the association were Adult Leadership (monthly) for general members and Adult Education (quarterly) for professional members.

American Association for Adult and Continuing Education (AAACE)

In 1982, the AEA-USA merged with the National Association of Public School Adult Educators (NAPSAE) to become the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education (AAACE), which is the name under which the organization operates as of this writing. The AAACE's mission statement is "to provide leadership for the field of adult and continuing education by expanding opportunities for adult growth and development; unifying adult educators; fostering the development and dissemination of theory, research, information, and best practices; promoting identity and standards for the profession; and advocating relevant public policy and social change initiatives."

AAACE maintains seven commissions that represent general areas of interest in the field (e.g. International Adult Education, Adult Basic Education and Literacy), and twenty-six units that represent specific focus areas (e.g. Correctional Institutions, GED Test Administrators, History and Philosophy of Adult Education, Religious Education, Special Learning Needs, Women's Issues, Status, and Education). As of this writing, AAACE continues publication of Adult Education Quarterly and also publishes a second, practitioner-oriented journal, Adult Learning.

[June 2007]

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Adult Education Association (AEA-USA)/American Association for Adult and Continuing Education (AAACE) Records consists of three separate accessions which have been processed to varying degress and which are not integrated. Box numbering is sequential order across all three parts. There is considerable overlap between the three parts in terms of both dates and subject matter.

Part I, 1924-1968 (18 linear ft)

This accession is the most fully processed. It consists entirely of records relating to the AEA-USA. It is divided into Correspondence, Organizational records, and Writings. Besides correspondence, there is printed material including ditto and mimeographed material, photocopy, published material, and newspaper clippings; one volume of trial balance sheets; one journal; and typescript copy for periodical publications of the AEA. The inclusive dates of these papers are ca. 1924-1968, but the bulk of the material is dated 1951 to 1967. The few materials dated prior to 1951 were generated by the American Association for Adult Education, a predecessor of the Adult Education Association, which dissolved and transmitted its records to the AEA in 1951.

Correspondence, 1951-1968, includes incoming and outgoing letters, memoranda, and telegrams, arranged chronologically. Correspondence dated only by year is found at the beginning of the January folder for that year. Undated correspondence is placed at the end of the section. The following correspondents, significant for their importance within the AEA, the volume of their material in the collection, or the presence of their papers among the manuscript holdings of Syracuse University, are heavily represented.

Hendrickson, Andrew
Jensen, Glenn S.
Johnson, Eugene I.
Knowles, Malcolm S.
Luke, Robert A.
McCarthy, Lois
Mitchell, Nicholas P.
Pyle, Hugh G.
Sheats, Paul Henry

Other prominent individuals in the field of adult education whose correspondence is found among the papers of AEA are:

Adolphson, L. H.
Bradford, Leland P.
Durrie, Paul H.
Essert, Paul L.
Houle, Cyril O.
Hunsaker, Herbert C.
Kempfer, Homer H.
Liveright, A. A.
Long, Fern
McClusky, Howard Y.
Sharer, Robert E.
Sillars, Robertson
Stevenson, Grace
White, Thurman

Arrangement of the Organizational records follows, with occasional modification, the subject filing system of the AEA, a copy of which can be found in Box 9. Subject headings used by the AEA were retained where appropriate. New headings were created for materials which did not fit into existing AEA categories. Major headings are arranged alphabetically. Material within these headings is arranged either alphabetically or chronologically, depending upon the nature of the material. Although any one folder may contain a variety of types of materials, correspondence and printed material predominate. Major headings of importance to the re-searcher and containing the largest amounts of material are:

American Association for Adult Education
Business and Finance
Delegate Assembly
Project Task Force

Box 6 contains some materials from 1924 to 1951 of the American Association for Adult Education and of the Carnegie Corporation. Also part of the collection is some material on the Council of National Organizations (CNO), a subsidiary of AEA-USA, and the National Association of Public School Adult Educators (NAPSAE), an independent organization with which the AEA-USA merged in 1982.

Notebooks are arranged chronologically, following the pattern by which they were kept by the AEA. The material includes minutes, memoranda, working papers, policy statements, reports, proposals, and rosters. Undated pieces are placed at the end of the group. The notebook material overlaps material in the other organizational records. For example, papers relating to the AEA executive committee are found under Notebooks, as well as under Committees. Additional materials of importance are the working papers and minutes of the publication committee and the general office memoranda for 1952 and 1953.

Writings are arranged under the headings of articles, book reviews, copy for Adult Education and Adult Leadership, and speeches. Articles were written by officers of the AEA and are arranged alphabetically according to the authors' surnames. There is one folder of book reviews, dated 1958. Copy is arranged alphabetically by titles of the publications and chronologically within each title. Speeches, both those delivered by AEA officers or by speakers at meetings sponsored by the AEA, are arranged alphabetically by the speakers' surnames.

Part II, 1950-1994 (19 linear ft)

Part II consists of records from the AEA-USA and from the AAACE and has received only minimal processing. Material in this accession covers the following topics: activities, affiliations, annual reports, board of directors meeting minutes, budgets, commissions, committees, conferences, constitution and bylaws, councils, delegate assembly, directories, leadership rosters, manuals, mission statement, publications, sections, files of AAACE president Wendell Smith, subject correspondence, task forces, and units/divisions.

Part III, 1952-1991 (7 linear ft)

Part III consists of historical files, office files, and publications; it spans the complete life of AAACE and thus includes material from all three organizations involved (AEA-USA, NAPSAE, and AAACE). Like Part II, Part III has received only minimal processing. Historical files are divided into AAACE 1982-1986 and AEA 1965-1982; this material includes budgets, conference material, constitutions and bylaws, proposals, published material, reports, surveys, and other material. Office files are divided into AAACE 1983-1987 and AEA 1958-1982; these include reports, meeting minutes (committee and Board of Directors), conference material, reports, publications, correspondence, newsletters, and mailings, among other things. Publications contains AAACE monographs and periodicals, AEA monographs and periodicals, and NAPSAE monographs and periodicals.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

The library holds a considerable number of collections related to adult and continuing education. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing of all adult education collections. In particular, see also the following:

Subject Headings


Adolphson, L. H.
Bradford, Leland Powers, 1905-
Durrie, Paul H.
Essert, Paul L.
Hendrickson, Andrew, 1899-
Houle, Cyril Orvin, 1913-
Hunsaker, Herbert Cason, 1898-
Jensen, Glenn S.
Johnson, Eugene I.
Kempfer, Homer H.
Knowles, Malcolm Sheperd, 1913-
Liveright, A. A. (Alexander Albert), 1907-
Long, Fern, 1905-
Luke, Robert A.
McCarthy, Lois.
McClusky, Howard Y., 1900-1982.
Mitchell, Nicholas Pendleton, 1911-
Pyle, Hugh G.
Sharer, Robert E., 1900-
Sheats, Paul H., 1907-1984.
Sillars, Robertson.
Smith, Wendell L.
Stevenson, Grace Thomas, 1900-
White, Thurman J.

Corporate Bodies

Adult Education Association, Archives.
American Association for Adult and Continuing Education -- Archives.
National Association for Public School Adult Education.
National Association for Public and Continuing Adult Education.
National Education Association of the United States. -- Department of Adult Education.

Associated Titles

Adult education quarterly.
Adult leadership.


Adult education -- United States.
Educators -- United States.

Genres and Forms

Agendas (administrative records)
Annual reports.
Manuals (instructional materials)
Minutes (administrative records)
Speeches (documents)

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Adult Education Association (AEA-USA)/American Association for Adult and Continuing Education (AAACE) Records
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Adult Education Association of the U.S.A., 1968-1970.

Table of Contents

[Part I] Correspondence

[Part I] Organizational records

[Part I] Writings

[Part II]

[Part III] Historical files

[Part III] Office files

[Part III] Publications