Collection inventory

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Cyril O. Houle Papers

An inventory of his papers 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: EEA
Date: 29 Jul 1991

Biographical History

Cyril Houle has been a major figure in the history of continuing education as a teacher, writer and researcher. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Florida at Gainesville (1934) and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago (1940). He was the recipient of numerous honorary doctorates and the first recipient of the William Pearson Tolley Medal for Distinguished Leadership in Adult Education (1966).

From 1939 to 1979, Houle served on the faculty of the University of Chicago, from 1944-1952 as the Dean of University College. In 1953 he devoted himself full time to graduate training and research, particularly to the master's and doctoral programs in adult and higher education. He has served as visiting instructor, professor and lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley (1940), the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (1960), and the University of Washington (1961). He held a Fulbright Scholarship in the United Kingdom (1950-1951), was director of a Unesco workshop in Sweden (1950), served as consultant to the universities of Liberia and Nigeria (1966), andas senior consultant to the Educational Testing Service (1972).He was twice appointed to the National Advisory Council of Extension and Continuing Education by Lyndon B.Johnson.

Houle's research took him abroad to England (1954), to study university extra-mural work in Africa and the Caribbean (1958-1959), to folk schools in Denmark and to Oxford University where he was Visiting Senior Research Specialist in Extra-Mural Studies.(1967-1968).

Houle is a member of many organizations. He served as centennial president of the Chicago Literary Club, for which he also gave several addresses. Houle has been awarded the 1966 Citation from the Association of University Evening Colleges (AUEC), the 1967 Award of Merit of the National Association of Public School Adult Education (NAPSAE) and the 1981 Imogene Okes Award for Outstanding Research in Adult Education from the Adult Education Association (AEA, now the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education, AAACE).

Houle has authored and co-authored numerous articles and chapters, as well as the following books:

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Cyril O. Houle Papers consists of reports, manuscripts, drafts, interview tapes and transcripts, speeches, correspondence, reviews, research materials, films, memorabilia and publications that Houle considered valuable. The bulk of the collection is dated 1959-1980. The collection is divided into twelve series, five of which (The Inquiring Mind background materials, Manuscripts, Patterns of Learning, Projects, and Publications) are of a substantial size.

Advisory Committee on Education consists of daily reports of Houle's observations, and activities for the committee, arranged by state. Awards contains programs, clippings, and correspondence related to the honorary doctorates Houle received.

The Inquiring Mind background material, self-educating project consists of the research materials which formed the basis for Houle's book. (See below for taped interviews for this book.)

Manuscripts contains manuscript versions of many of Houle's writings; however, for related correspondence, drafts, and background materials see the "Inquiring Mind," "Patterns of Learning" and "Projects" series.

Patterns of Learning comprises material relating to Houle's book which brought together several separately constructed essays, dating over a period of years.

Houle was involved in numerous Projects and with several books others wrote. This large series reflects many of these projects, and includes correspondence and other materials related to his publishers.

Miscellaneous includes correspondence from Paul Sheats, Thurman White and Malcolm Knowles.

Publications are divided into three distinct sections: Cyril O. Houle (COH), International and U.S. publications. The first section includes articles, pamphlets and books in which Houle made a significant contribution. The second and third sections contain adult education-related material published outside the United States (international) as well as domestically.

Dissertations included in the collection either have dedications within them or other notations which indicate their value to Houle. Memorabilia includes plaques, photographs, certificates, honorary doctorates, certificates of recognition, and other similar material. Tapes (small) include interviews of and by Houle, some for The Inquiring Mind and others unidentified. Finally, Films contains four films. Three are Encyclopedia Britannica films on the topic of discussion groups, and the fourth is a profile of a Dr. Corbett.

Bracketed abbreviations in the inventory indicate those used on folders. Bracketed numbers indicated the number of folders similarly labeled. The word "[copy]" indicates that the folder title reads the same as the heading. Explanatory notes about the contents of a series or folders are also bracketed.

Arrangement of the Collection

In most cases, Houle's arrangement of materials and folder headings has been preserved. Notebooks and large folders have been disassembled into more manageable units, but kept ordered as found. Miscellaneous materials are found before the publications; large bound materials and those of unique size and shape have been placed at the end of the shelf list. Specific comments concerning the series follow.

Advisory Committee on Education is arranged by state. Awards is arranged chronologically. The Inquiring Mind background material is arranged by type of material. Manuscripts are arranged alphabetically by title. Patterns of Learning essays are arranged in the same order as in the published book. Projects are arranged alphabetically; where projects included a considerable amount of materials, these have been separated into several folders by type (e.g. Correspondence). Publications are divided into three subsets; Houle's own writings are arranged alphabetically by type and within that by title while international publications are arranged alphabetically by country and US publications alphabetically by topic. Tapes and Films are arranged alphabetically.


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.

Subject Headings


Houle, Cyril Orvin, 1913-

Associated Titles

Patterns of learning.
The Inquiring mind.


Adult education.
Educators, United States.

Genres and Forms

Drafts (documents)
Manuscripts (document genre)
Reviews (documents)
Sound recordings.
Speeches (documents)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Cyril O. Houle Papers
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Table of Contents

Advisory Committee on Education


The Inquiring Mind background material [INQ MIND]

Manuscripts [MS.]

Patterns of Learning [P.L.]