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NEA Project News

In 1963, NEA teamed up with Hollywood to create Mr. Novak. The show was about an idealistic young high school teacher, played by James Franciscus, facing problems many teachers would recognize. As producer E. Jack Neumann described the show in interview with NEA Reporter, "[o]ur stories sometimes will be provocative and controversial, they'll sometimes show the bad as well as the good among students and teachers. But we aim to keep everything in its proper, true perspective."

By setting it in a high school, the show offered rich opportunities for drama created when young people find themselves facing the challenges of adulthood for the first time. In order to ensure realism, the producers asked NEA to provide them with a a panel of principals and classroom teachers to read first drafts of scripts. Some of the crises which confront him during the series include: students falling in love with teachers; nurturing highly talented, creative students; students considering quitting school; hazing; and teachers with the wrong priorities. The cast would feature such stars as Dean Jagger, Burgess Meredith, Jeanne Bal, and Marian Collier, and some famous guest stars included Walter Koenig, Beau Bridges, Ed Asner, and Martin Landau among others. Francisicus himself would attend the 1964 NEA Convention.

Activities Report Thumbnail

The NEA Collection in Gelman Library's Special Collections contains records of the Association's relationship with Hollywood. These include activities reports prepared for NEA's Press, Radio, and Television Relations Division, tracking how educators assisted with each episode, one of which can be seen to the side.

Those interested in viewing the Mr. Novak material, or anything else from the NEA Collection, should contact Vakil Smallen, the NEA Archivist, at smallen@gwu.edu or 202-994-1371.

Department of Education LetterIn today's hyper-partisan political environment, it can be difficult to remember a time when Democrats and Republicans worked together to solve the nation's problems.  Every parent wants a good education for their child, and providing a decent education should be one of the first concerns of our political leaders.  It was not always so, however, and for many years the National Education Association had to fight for representation for education at the federal level.  The advocacy culminated in an effort to create a cabinet level department devoted solely to education.  Success finally came in 1979 when President Carter signed into law a new Department of Education; and it was done with bi-partisan support, including from young Congressman and 2012 presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich.  Attached below is a letter of support to "fellow Republicans" signed by nine GOP congressmen, including Mr. Gingrich, and a list of Senate co-sponsors of the bill from both parties.

The NEA collection here at Gelman Library includes many records documenting the decade of advocacy that preceded the creation of the Department of Education.  Researchers interested in this topic or anything concerning the NEA collection should contact Vakil Smallen at smallen@email.gwu.edu or 202-994-1371.

[Attachment: Dept of Education.pdf]


At a time when unions face increasing pressure and criticism from conservatives, a timely series has become available to the public; the records of the Division of Affiliate Services.  The records come to Gelman Library as a gift of John Dunlop, who worked in the NEA's Office of Negotiation, a unit of the Division of Affiliate Services.  Mr. Dunlop kept the records and performed some preliminary processing on them before donating them to George Washington University.

The records of the Affiliate Services Division contain material generated by the office while John Dunlop worked there, as well as material generated by other divisions that were critical to the operation of the offices.  The records reflect all of the work of Affiliate Services, but there is a significant amount of material related to collective bargaining and negotiation.  Researchers interested in the topic will find a lot of primary source material on the NEA's work to promote collective bargaining, such as attacks from anti-union organizations, definitions of terms and goals, field reports, joint reports prepared with the American Federation of Teachers and other allies, minutes of coordinating committees and other meetings, legislative efforts at the federal and local level, research and historical material, strategic plans and transcripts of speeches.  Below is the first page of a 1974 strategic long-range plan to assess the bargaining environment of different affiliates and determine the steps necessary to move every affiiate to collective bargaining.  To see the remaining six pages of the report, send me an email at smallen@email.gwu.edu and ask to view folder 8 or box 3096.

The finding aid for the collection can be found here: https://library.gwu.edu/ead/nea1006.xml#ref9543

Mrs. Catherine Barrett, NEA President and Frank Merrick, Education Editor, Time Magazine. 1971-1972 NEA Reporter Photographs

The NEA photograph collection is currently being processed.  The collection consists of over 15,000 individual photographs in a variety of formats and sizes, including negatives and contact prints.  Many of the photographs were used in  NEA publications and have red marks or pica count written on them signifying how the editor wanted the picture cropped or sized.


They document individual NEA members from the association President to classroom teachers, as well as schoolchildren, politicians and others important in the history of American education.  The goal of description is to, as much as possible, identify individuals, places and events in each photo so that users can find the image that best meets their needs.

The records of the National Education Association are now open for researchers.  The material is stored offsite, so anyone wishing to view the material should make sure to contact the archivist at smallen@email.gwu.edu at least one week in advance of their visit to ensure availability.  A finding aid will be available online shortly.  As soon as it is available, a link to the finding aid will be provided on this blog.  Anyone with questions concerning the collection should contact the archivist.

Hello to all of you who have been following the blog updates concerning the records of the National Education Association.  It's been quite awhile since there was any news to report, but now there's finally something.  There is a new Project Archivist hired to complete the processing of the material.  That's me!!!  I'm Vakil Smallen, a 2007 graduate of the University of Maryland College of Library Sciences.  Until recently, I was working in the archives of the International Monetary Fund.  I'm excited to join the team here at GWU's Gelman Library and get the chance to work with the unique and historic materials from the NEA. 

My first task has been familiarizing myself with the existing collection (all 2,600 boxes of it) and preparing the first series I will be processing.  My next blog entry will be a more detailed description of that series, the Projects, Programs and Awards Series.  There are still a few memos, letters and reports to organize and describe but most of what is left consists of bound publications, photographs and mixed media audio-visual materials.

The current plan is to have the entire collection available to the public in the spring of 2011.  In the meantime, it is available on a limited access basis.  If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email at smallen@gwu.edu.


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