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Center for the Study of Liberal Education for Adults (CSLEA) 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: Oct 1976

Biographical History

The Center for the Study of Liberal Education for Adults (CSLEA) was established in 1951 with a grant from the Fund for Adult Education (FAE) that had been awarded on the basis of a proposal submitted by the Committee on Liberal Education of the Association of University Evening Colleges. Throughout its history the Center's primary source of financial support was the FAE. Established to work with universities seeking to initiate or to improve adult education programs, the Center's general purpose was to help American higher education develop greater effectiveness and a deeper sense of responsibility for the liberal education of adults. The Center fulfilled this purpose of working with university adult education administration through Center projects, consultation services of the Center staff, four publication series (Notes and Essays, Reports, Research Reports, and Occasional Papers), a semi-monthly newsletter, Continuing Education for Adults, which contained information gathered from the field, and services of the Center clearinghouse on adult education information.

The Center produced experimental study-discussion guides for adult use in evening colleges and later shifted focus by studying the quality of administrative leadership, faculty performance, and status of continuing education in colleges and universities. Increasingly the Center's activities concerned national leadership conferences, the development of special degree programs specifically for adults, and seminars for faculty, deans, and presidents. Its research resulted in an extensive and influential list of publications. The Center also made numerous small "seed" grants to try out experimental ideas. In 1956, upon formal invitation, the Center's services were extended to the institutions of the National University Extension Association. In 1958 it began to work with a special committee of black colleges and universities and in 1959 with a newly formed Committee on Liberal Education of the Association of American Colleges. Thus the Center's work of liberally oriented higher education for adults had spread across the spectrum of higher education. CSLEA was also influential in the development of international adult education, providing the International Congress of University Adult Education with a secretariat during its formative years.

James B. Whipple points out in his history of the Center that the distinguishing characteristics of the Center included its quasi-independence. The Center was established on the campus of the University of Chicago, but remained independent of that institution. From 1964 until its termination in 1968, the Center was affiliated with Boston University but retained its independence. There were three directors of the Center:

John Simeon Diekhoff, 1952-1953
John B. Schwertman, 1953-1956
Alexander Albert Liveright, 1956-1968

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Center for the Study of Liberal Education for Adults (CSLEA) Records are arranged in five series: correspondence, organizational files, publication files, writings, and miscellany. The inclusive dates of the collection are 1951-1969; the 1969 materials consists exclusively of correspondence dealing with the termination of the Center. Besides correspondence, the collection contains printed material including dittoed and mimeographed material, published material, periodical and newspaper clippings, some computer print-outs and galley proofs, typescript copy of material published by the CSLEA, and financial material. The categories of correspondence and organizational files contain 78% of the material in the collection.

Correspondence contains incoming and outgoing letters from 1951 to 1969. Incoming letters are arranged ahead of paired outgoing letters, regardless of which ones are the responses. Arrangement is chronological according to the date of the letter or the date of the incoming letter where two or more letters are attached. Undated correspondence is located at the end of the category. Correspondence dated only to the year is placed at the end of the year folder, and correspondence dated only to the month is placed at the end of that month. Correspondents include members of the CSLEA staff, members of the Center's board of directors, key staff members of the Fund for Adult Educatiobn, as well as administrators of adult education programs throughout the country and staff members of other adult education organizations. Correspondents significant for the volume of their letters, their authority with and within CSLEA, and/or the subject matter of their letters, include the following:

Carey, James T.
Charters, Alexander N.
DeCrow, Roger
Diekhoff, John Simeon
Fletcher, C. Scott
Goldman, Freda H.
Gordon, Morton
Haygood, Kenneth
Houle, Cyril Orvin
Liveright, Alexander Albert
Miller, Harry L.
Schwertman, John B.
Sheats, Paul H.
Seigle, Peter E.
Vaughan, Marilyn M.
Whipple, James B.

Organizational files of CSLEA are divided into administrative, financial, legal, and project categories.

Administrative files contain board of directors meeting reports, meeting files, memoranda, personnel files, general reports, and staff files. Board of directors meetings from 1951 to 1967 generated agendas, minutes, and meeting reports. Meeting files include material dealing with meetings of bodies within CSLEA, meetings sposored by the Center, and meetings not held under the Center's auspices but attended by CSLEA staff members. Other files were generated by the annual CSLEA staff meetings. Among the minutes are informal reports of meetings, as well as recorded and approved minutes and minutes of staff meetings from 1951 to 1967. There are resolutions passed at meetings, conference proceedings, and transcripts. There are memoranda that are often staff reports on Center projects, institutional visits, conferences, and interviews. These memoranda, by their individual and collective bulk and for their wide range of content, detailed information, and sometime confidential nature, provide an important source concerning the activities and philosophy of the Center. Personnel files, general reports, and staff files complete the administrative section of organizational files.
Financial data include proposed budgets, an accounts payable and receivable journal, cash receipts and disbursement journals, payroll records, compensation vouchers, payroll checks, bank statements, auditor's reports, income tax records, salary lists, petty cash records, and bank signature authorizations.
Legal files consist primarily of articles, agreements, and by-laws.
Projects files complete the organizational category and make up the largest part of the collection. These folders relate to various projects, including conferences, workshops, institutes, and meetings, as well as grants for basic support of CSLEA and its programs. Although it includes reports and proposals both by and to CSLEA, the bulk of the material was prepared by CSLEA. Reports include staff reports on Center projects, research, and institutional visits, as well as committee reports and Center reports to the Fund for Adult Education. In addition to more formal reports and proposals, these files include general material dealing with areas of interest to CSLEA, listed by subject. Several of the more important groups of material are the Carey Study (the Center's report of AUEC and NUEA to the Fund), the Arts Project, the Evaluation Project, Liberal Education for Specialists (Operation Micro), Negro College Program, the Leadership Conferences of CSLEA, and special degree programs. The folders are arranged alphabetically by project titles.

Publication files include brochures, curriculum materials, publication lists and schedules, and material relating to the CSLEA newsletter. The group of adult education curricular materials prepared by the CSLEA staff dates mostly from 1951 and 1952. This material is arranged chronologically, with undated material placed at the end of the group.

Writings are divided into two sections: addresses, and articles and books. Notable authors include A. A. Liveright and James B. Whipple, former assistant director of the Center and author of its history. Addresses includes speeches delivered by members of CSLEA, by non-CSLEA personnel at meetings sponsored by CSLEA, as well as speeches dealing with subjects of interest to the Center. Addresses are arranged alphabetically by author, with unidentified authors placed at the end. The date given for an address may be the date it was typed, but it is more often the date it was delivered. Ar ticles and books contains manuscripts of CSLEA staff and board of directors, consultants to the Center, and, in a few cases, students of Liveright. Also here are manuscripts of books published by CSLEA, some of them written or edited by members of the Center's staff. The arrangement of the drafts of these books does not necessarily correspond to their order of revision. However, where there are large-format typescript printer's copies of manuscripts, these are identified as the last draft. Material is arranged alphabetically by author or editor, and the manuscripts of each individual are arranged alphabetically by title. Manuscripts, the authors of which are unidentified, are placed at the end of the group. The date given for each article is generally the date it was typed. For books the date is either the publication or copyright date.

Miscellany is arranged by type. Brochures and announcements include descriptions of the Center and its programs. Reprints of articles by CSLEA staff members are arranged chronologically. Periodical clippings of articles by CSLEA staff members or about the Center are arranged chronologically. Newspaper clippings, also arranged chronologically, contain articles about the Center and its activities.


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


Carey, James T., 1925-
Charters, Alexander N.
DeCrow, Roger.
Diekhoff, John S.
Fletcher, Cyril Scott, 1904-
Goldman, Freda H.
Gordon, Morton, 1933-
Haygood, Kenneth.
Houle, Cyril Orvin, 1913-
Liveright, A. A. (Alexander Albert), 1907-
Miller, Harry L., 1920-
Schwertman, John B.
Sheats, Paul H., 1907-1984.
Siegle, Peter E.
Vaughan, Marilyn M.
Whipple, James B.

Corporate Bodies

Center for the Study of Liberal Education for Adults -- Archives.


Adult education -- United States.
Education -- Curricula.
Education -- United States.
Education, Humanistic.
Evening and continuation schools.
Universities and colleges -- United States.

Genres and Forms

Agendas (administrative records)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Financial records.
Legal files.
Manuscripts for publication.
Minutes (administrative records)
Speeches (documents)


Adult education

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Center for the Study of Liberal Education for Adults (CSLEA) Records,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Various sources, including transfer from University Archives, gift of B.J. Vaughn, gift of CSLEA.

Table of Contents


Organizational files

Publication files