Collection inventory

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Fund for Adult Education (FAE) 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: AR
Date: 1975

Biographical History

The Fund for Adult Education (FAE) was a subsidiary foundation established and supported by the Ford Foundation. Founded in 1951, the Fund had as its purpose to aid and to encourage liberal adult education especially in political, economic, and international affairs and the humanities, with emphasis on study-discussion. However, because of the coincidence of history, the Fund became the main instrument in the establishment of an educational broadcasting system (particularly ETV) in the United States. The Fund had its own board of directors and staff, and it was both a grant-giving and an operating organization. During its early years, the Fund financed the sometimes controversial Test Cities experiment, the purpose of which was to ascertain the best ways to coordinate and stimulate adult education activities, community by community. The Test Cities Project involved individuals and institutions in thirteen United States communities in an experimental and novel educational project. Each of the participating Test Cities programs was independent of the Fund and controlled its own programs. The Fund officially ended its activities in 1961, although it continued as a legal entity (just as some of the projects to which it gave long-term grants continued) after 1961. Description

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Fund for Adult Education (FAE) Records contain correspondence, published material, reports, and work files of Fund projects that date from 1950, the year prior to the organization's founding. Bull: dates of the collection are 1951 to 1958, although some printed material dates to 1969. The collection is arranged by broad subject categories in 97 boxes and one package that total 70 linear feet. Most of the collection deals with Fund-operated projects, mainly study-discussion programs.

Boxes 1-31 contain the files of the Fund's Test Cities experiment. The first five boxes contain general files, largely correspondence, but there are also there are files, arranged by community name, of the projects undertaken in the thirteen communities that were involved in the program. These latter files typically contain correspondence, project histories, newsletters, reports, and news-clippings. A restriction on research access to the Fund for Adult Education Test Cities files, specified by the donor, limits access to professional persons in the field of educational history and research and further stipulates that no quotation from any letter, memorandum, report, or any other document in the Test Cities files be made without the written permission of the person who made the document.

Data on the three projects, " Great Men, Great Issues," " Meet the Humanities," and " Ways of Mankind," will be found in boxes 32-44. Most of the folders are geographical, as are the folders of the Experimental discussion Project (EDP), arranged under discussion topics in boxes 44-76, which contain the evaluations of the study-discussion program materials that evolved in the Fund's Experimental discussion Project. This project helped develop liberal arts and science courses that were designed for small groups led by properly trained lay leaders who were not necessarily either professional educators or subject specialists. The study-discussion programs were conducted with experimental groups, and on the basis of criticisms received from these groups, program materials were revised and then distributed at a nominal cost to groups throughout the country. These EDP files are the rough evaluations from which the Fund worked in revising the program materials. The story of the Experimental discussion Project is told in the report by Glen Burch, "Accent on Learning."

Boxes 77-97 contain files under the headings of Personal Information, Group Information, and Group Leaders' Reactions, as well as newspaper clippings, photostats, and printed material. Newsclippings and photostats are mounted in bound volumes, rather than placed in folders. In the Fund for Adult Education Papers there is no overall report of Fund activities; the closest approximation to one is " The Challenge of Lifetime Learning: Continuing Liberal Education, report 1955-1957," a copy of which is located in box 97. Further details on the holdings of the collection are available in the accompanying shelf list, which has been prepared from folder headings of the Fund for Adult Education Papers as they were processed prior to their arrival in the Manuscripts Division.

Audiorecordings consists of more than 100 audiorecordings pertaining to various projects, including "Ways of Mankind," "People Under Communism," and "Jeffersonian Heritage."

Arrangement of the Collection

The material is largely arranged as received.


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.

Additional access restrictions lifted, 2006.

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.

The following collections may be of particular interest:

Subject Headings

Corporate Bodies

Fund for Adult Education (U.S.) -- Archives
Fund for Adult Education (U.S.) -- Records and correspondence.


Adult education.
Community education -- United States

Genres and Forms

35mm (photographic film size)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Film reels.
Phonograph records.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Fund for Adult Education (FAE) Records,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of the Fund for Adult Education, 1961, with subsequent additions

Table of Contents

Test Cities

Great Men-Great Issues

Meet The Humanities

Ways Of Mankind

Experimental discussion Project

Personal information

Group information

Group leader's reactions

Newspaper clippings and photostats

The Study Of Sioux City


FAE Part 2: 1991 additions


Audio/film sets