Collection inventory

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Robert A. Luke 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: MRR
Date: 21 Aug 2006

Biographical History

Robert Luke was an American educator specializing in adult education. He served as Chair of the Community Organization Committee of the American Association for Adult Education (AAAE) from 1947 to 1948 and as Associate Executive Secretary of the Department of Adult Education of the National Education Association (NEA) from 1949 to 1951. In 1950, he was a member of the joint committee that laid out the structure for what would become the Adult Education Association of the United States (AEA/USA). He was also a member of the Coalition of Adult Education Organizations and a member of the Planning Committee for the 1969 Galaxy Conference of Adult Education Organizations. From 1964 to 1975, Dr. Luke served as International Secretary of the Adult Education Committee of the World Confederation of Organizations of the Teaching Profession. He was member (1984-1986) and then Chair (1986-1988) of the AAACE Publications Standing Service Unit.

Dr. Luke authored a number of articles, monographs, books, handbooks, and pamphlets over his career, including several for teachers (and trainers of teachers) of deaf adults (published under the auspices of Gallaudet University in Washington, DC) and a number focusing on inservice teacher education. As executive secretary of the Adult Education Council of Metropolitan Cincinnati, he chaired the Committee on Community Organization of the American Association for Adult Education which produced the paper, "Community Education in Action" (1948). He was the author of The NEA and Adult Education: A Historical Review 1921-1972, a research project that compiled the history and accomplishments of the National Education Association and which contributed greatly to the heritage of adult and continuing education. His editorship of The Teaching Profession and the Worldwide Literacy Program impacted the scene of adult and continuing education beyond the boundaries of the United States.

Robert Luke received many awards for his outstanding contributions to the field of continuing education. In 1987, the AAACE awarded him its Outstanding Service Medallion and in 1988 he received the AAACE President's Award for his exceptional leadership in adult and continuing education. He was inducted into the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame in 2000.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Robert A. Luke Papers consists of the files and writings of the American adult educator and author, with some memorabilia and photographs.

Biographical material contains clippings about Dr. Luke and a number of photographs, most from the 1950s and 1960s. Subject files are for the most part as Luke had them arranged and include among other things historical information on the Adult Education Act, a large amount of material on teacher inservice education, an eyewitness account by Luke of the Los Angeles Teachers Strike in April 1970, reports from Luke on his experiences training adult educators in Thailand, and notes and correspondence concerning an oral history project on the history of adult education. Conference proceedings, arranged chronologically, contains programs from the conferences of various adult education organizations ranging from the 1925 National Education Association Convention to the 39th Annual Adult Education Conference in 1990. Projects comprises material relating to projects that Dr Luke was involved in as director, consultant, board member, or in some other non-author capacity including Project Alphabet, a highly successful televised literacy course, and "The Story of Wiston," a filmstrip presentation based on one of Luke's case studies.

By far the majority of the material comprises Dr. Luke's Writings. This includes articles, books, speeches, reports, newsletters, workshop outlines and scripts for a videotaped series. Of particular interest are the draft and final copies of his extensive history of the National Education Association, The NEA and Adult Education: A Historical Review 1921-1972; material from Coahoma Junior College's Professor Emeritus Project and the NEA's Teacher Inservice Education Project; and copies of two of Luke's handbooks for teachers of deaf adults, published by Gallaudet University.

Memorabilia comprises two scrapbooks, one commemorating Luke's ten-year anniversary with NAPSAE and the other commerating his retirement. Miscellaneous includes two audiocassettes (a radio broadcast in company with George Aker and Paul Sheats, two other notable adult educators, and an interview with educator Leonard Oliver); several books by other authors on the Adult Education Act; a dissertation covering adult education in America from 1930-1939; and a variety of printed material.

Arrangement of the Collection

The collection is arranged alphabetically by type or topic.


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


Luke, Robert A.

Corporate Bodies

Adult Education Association.
American Association for Adult and Continuing Education.
National Association for Public School Adult Education.


Adult education -- United States.
Evening and continuation schools -- United States.
Teachers of the deaf.
Teachers' workshops.
Teachers, Training of -- Research.
Teachers, Training of -- Thailand.
Teachers, Training of -- United States.

Genres and Forms

Drafts (documents)
Speeches (documents)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Robert A. Luke Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Robert A. Luke, 1994.

Table of Contents

Biographical material

Subject files

Conference proceedings