Photo Friday: The Place of Learning

Ernest L. Boyer sitting at his desk at his welcoming party to Washington, DC as the new Commissioner of Education. - BCA

Ernest L. Boyer sitting at his desk at his welcoming party to Washington, DC as the new Commissioner of Education. – BCA

Today’s Photo Friday post features Ernie Boyer sitting at his desk at his welcome party as the United States Commissioner of Education in 1977. Many of the items seen on Boyer’s desk are now housed in the Boyer Archives, which shows just how significant these items were to Boyer’s work. While it may seem obvious, Boyer’s desk was a central location for his work. In fact, when Boyer became president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (CFAT) he had two offices, one as his main CFAT office in New Jersey and the other in Washington, D.C., for when he traveled there on business.

But no matter which desk he was using, for Boyer the desk seemed to be both a place of personal satisfaction and of professional development. In terms of personal satisfaction, Boyer often kept three pictures on the wall by his desk of three people he admired: Helen Keller, Albert Einstein, and Albert Schweitzer. When meeting someone in his office, Boyer would use these pictures as a conversation piece. In addition, like many others, Boyer often used his desk to complete personal work such as answering calls, reading mail, or writing.

Yet, the desk was also a place of professional development. Often Boyer would meet individuals in his office for various reasons: discussing publications, conducting interviews, hosting personal visitors. It is likely that in this small office desk setting that more enlightening or at least more specific information could be discussed, as opposed to bigger discussions in a board meeting. Boyer supports this idea in an unpublished chapter titled “Literacy and Learning.” In it he states:

Several years ago, when I was Commissioner of Education, I walked unannounced into a sixth grade classroom in New Haven [Connecticut]. There were nearly thirty children crowding around the teacher’s desk. I discovered that, rather than confronting an emergency, I had, in fact, become part of a moment of great discovery The children had just finished reading Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist, and these sixth graders in inner-city New Haven were rigorously debating whether little Oliver could make it in their city.

Even when observing little children, it is clear that the desk can be a place of engagement and learning. Therefore, today’s post features not just Boyer at his desk, but Boyer in the context in which he worked. His work place was both a home base for productivity and a place of great discovery. When these two factors come together, the desk becomes a place of learning.

To read the rest of Boyer’s unpublished chapter, click here.

Access to the Archives: Kicking off 2014

Happy 2014, all!  It’s been a few months since we updated the blogosphere about the current work being done at The Ernest L. Boyer Center Archives of Messiah College. With a new year, we figured this was the perfect time to provide a little insight into the daily operations of the archives.

Due to the return of our work-study students this fall we have digitized all the chapter manuscripts of the Carnegie Foundation publication Scholarship Reconsidered (catalog numbers 1000 0001 9635 – 1000 0002 0644). Currently the chapter manuscripts for Ready to Learn (catalog numbers 1000 0002 0645 – 1000 0002 1799) are being scanned and made available to researchers online.  Recently the manuscripts for Tribal Colleges (catalog numbers 1000 0002 1800 – 1000 0002 1833) have been cataloged and are next on the docket for digitization. School Choice is the Carnegie Foundation publication currently being organized and cataloged in preparation for digitization. We better get back to work!

Access to the Archives: The High School Study

The box currently being digitized in The Ernest L. Boyer Center Archives contains some of the sources, correspondence, and manuscripts related to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s publication High School: A Report on Secondary Education in America.  In 1983, Ernest Boyer and the Carnegie Foundation published a comprehensive study on the state of high schools throughout the country.  The Carnegie Foundation spent more than two years gathering information and conducting interviews and observations in various high schools.  Recently digitized is the entire manuscript of the high school study, dated July 18, 1983.

Hello world!

Question for you.  Are you familiar with the life and work of Dr. Ernest L. Boyer?  If you answered yes, congratulations!  If no, then that’s why we are here.

This blog will serve as the voice for the Ernest L. Boyer Center Archives of Messiah College.  Currently the archives contains over 480 linear feet of manuscripts, audio and visual materials, correspondence, speeches, and other materials documenting the life and work of Dr. Boyer.

So who was he and why should you care?

Dr. Boyer was a pioneer in the world of American education in the 20th century.  He most notably served as the United States Commissioner of Education under President Jimmy Carter, and then went on to lead the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (CFAT) as their president from 1979-1995.  At the time of his death, in 1995, his colleague, Samuel G. Sava, called him the “foremost educator of our time.”

Since Dr. Boyer’s education began at a small two-year bible college in central Pennsylvania, his family thought it right to donate his personal library and archives to Messiah College.  In 1998, the Ernest L. Boyer Center was established at Messiah College to promote learning, advance scholarship, foster community, engage society, and educate “servant leaders” – goals Dr. Boyer held close to his heart throughout his whole career.  The Boyer Archives is a large facility to help ensure these realities in American education.

The Ernest L. Boyer Center Archives is a great resource for students and scholars alike in the field of education.  Currently the archival staff is working to promote the work and legacy of Dr. Boyer by cataloging and digitizing its holdings and then making materials available for researchers online.

Interested in learning more about Dr. Boyer and how his work continues in the 21st century?  Stick with us.