Research

New York State Education Department Commissioner Francis T. Spaulding Subject Files

Held by the New York State Archives


Overview of the Records

Repository:

New York State Archives

New York State Education Department

Cultural Education Center

Albany, NY 12230

Summary:
This series reflects Francis T. Spaulding’s tenure as President of the University of the State of New York and Commissioner of Education of New York State from 1946 to 1950. Included are correspondence, reports, meeting materials, press releases, and other materials related to New York State higher education, especially the State University of New York; to the creation of and laws governing the State University of New York; and to various interdepartmental committees and commissions on which Commissioner Spaulding served.
Creator:
Title:
Quantity:
14.5 cubic feet of textual records
Inclusive Dates:
1933-1952
Bulk Dates:
1946-1950
Series Number:
W0102
Sponsor:
This series’ description was enhanced as part of the States’ Impact on Federal Education Policy Project (SIFEPP), in July 2008. The New York Community Trust - Wallace Special Projects Fund provided funding for this project.

Administrative History

Francis T. Spaulding was born in Ware, Massachusetts on November 23, 1896. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at Harvard University in 1916, then held teaching and administrative positions in public and private schools in New York State and elsewhere. He returned to Harvard to undertake graduate studies in education, earning his Ph.D. in 1926. He then became a member of the faculty of the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University, eventually becoming Dean of the school in 1940. From 1930 to 1933, Spaulding directed a national survey of secondary schools funded by the United States Office of Education, and co-authored the study’s report "The Reorganized Secondary School." Also while at Harvard, he first worked for the New York State Education Department from 1936 to 1938, when he directed a study of secondary education for the Regents’ Inquiry into the Character and Cost of Public Education, authoring the report “High School and Life” based on this study. During World War II, Spaulding served as the chief of the Army Education branch of the Information and Education Division of the United States War Department. Serving at the rank of Colonel, he was in charge of planning, organizing, and supervising educational programs through the Armed Forces Institute and its overseas branches. Spaulding was elected President of the University of the State of New York and Commissioner of Education by the New York State Board of Regents on November 15th, 1945, and took office on July 1, 1946.

Much of Spaulding’s time as Commissioner of Education was devoted to dealing with the challenge of providing education for former soldiers returning from service in World War II. During his tenure, construction of facilities at state colleges and universities was greatly expanded, as were off-campus extension programs. In addition, he focused on increasing the number of teachers in the New York State school system, and on increasing the capacity of teachers colleges to increase the level of professionalism among its graduates. Furthermore, Spaulding was instrumental in drafting and enacting regulations for the implementation of the Feinberg Law barring people deemed to be “subversives” from employment in New York State public schools. Spaulding died of a heart attack at his summer home in Center Harbor, N. H. on March 25, 1950.

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of correspondence, reports, meeting materials, press releases, and other materials related to the tenure of Francis T. Spaulding as New York State Commissioner of Education.

There is a considerable amount of material related to New York State higher education, and, in particular, the State University of New York. Among these papers are files from the Temporary Commission on the Need for a State University, including drafts and copies of legislation for the creation of the State University of New York, meeting agenda and minutes, correspondence between Spaulding and other members of the Commission, and confidential memoranda prepared for the Commission on various topics related to higher education in New York State. The collection also contains correspondence, reports, and press releases related to the SUNY Board of Trustees opposition to the Condon-Barrett bill to revise the law governing the State University of New York. Also included are master plans for the State University of New York, transcripts of public hearings relating to SUNY, budget requests for the SUNY system, and annual reports from specific New York State colleges and universities.

The collection also includes records from various interdepartmental committees and commissions on which Commissioner Spaulding served. Among these are records related to the Temporary Commission on the Coordination of State Activities, which from 1947 to 1951 surveyed state agencies, including the State Education Department, to identify operational inefficiencies. Included are reports from the Temporary Commission on the creation of a Department of Public Records for the coordination of record-keeping in state agencies, a proposal for a state program on history; and evaluations of various professional boards within the State Education Department. Also well-documented is the New York State Youth Commission, a group of state department leaders, including Spaulding, responsible for approving funding for programs on juvenile delinquency prevention, day care, youth centers and other out-of-school programs for minors. Included are proposals from counties, schools, cities, and non-profit organizations, Spaulding’s correspondence with other commission members and organizations receiving funding from the commission, meeting minutes, and texts of state legislation affecting youth programs. Also included are correspondence, agenda, meeting minutes, and reports from the Interdepartmental Health Council, which focused on alcoholism, studies of health needs, nursing education, and other public health issues, as well as from the New York State Commission against Discrimination, which focused on sponsoring public programs advocating tolerance, and on the implementation of the Educational Practices Act of 1948, which outlawed discrimination in admissions to New York State private colleges and universities.

The collection also documents Spaulding’s participation in national education organizations. Among these is the National Council of Chief State School Officers, which later would be called the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Documentation of the Council includes correspondence, reports on federal legislative proposals related to increased federal aid for school construction, minutes and agenda of Executive Committee meetings, and reports on issues such as the federal school lunch program, veterans education, teacher education, and the proposed creation of a federal Department of Education. Also included are correspondence, reports, meeting minutes and other materials from the American Council on Education on topics such as standardized testing, including the creation of the Educational Testing Service, and the United States Mission to Germany, which was charged with reconstructing West Germany’s educational system following World War II. Also prominently documented in the collection are the United States Office of Education and the New York State Teachers Association.

Use of Records

Access Restrictions

Commissioners in Schools Files: Restricted to protect personal privacy. Access may be permitted under certain conditions upon application to and approval by the State Archives.

Related Information

Related Materials

Series A2029 Reports on action taken on Regents’ Inquiry recommendations within the State Education Department

Series A2043 Commissioner’s addresses, press releases, and proclamations and

Series B0469-77 Education Department Cabinet meeting minutes contain related records.

Processing Information

W0102-78: These records were transferred by the State Library in 1978 and originally accessioned as part of Series 15080. When Series 15080 was separated into individual series corresponding to each education commissioner in 2017, the records were re-designated part of Series W0102.

This series description was enhanced as part of the States’ Impact on Federal Education Policy Project (SIFEPP), in July 2008. The New York Community Trust - Wallace Special Projects Fund provided funding for this project.

Access Terms

Personal Name(s):
Corporate Name(s):
Geographic Name(s):
Subject(s):
Function(s):