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The Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI) was founded in 1892 to promote early childhood education in the United States and elsewhere. The collection contains the records of the ACEI as well as the International Kindergarten Union and the National Council for Primary Education, ACEI's predecessor organizations. Also included are a broad range of document types from operating records to publications, audio-visual materials, and three-dimensional objects such as toys. In addition the collection contains the personal papers of numerous leaders of the ACEI. Among the many subjects addressed in the collection are early childhood curriculum, teacher education, the history of pre-kindergarten and kindergarten education, and the development of pre-school education in countries other than the United States.
There are also several unprocessed accessions for which preliminary inventories are available. Please contact the curator for more information.
This collection is open for research.
Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.
123.00 Linear Feet
The Archives of the Association for Childhood Education International are divided into five series representing three major types of material. The Association Records consist of three record groups: Series 1--International Kindergarten Union, Series 2--National Council of Primary Education, and Series 3--Association for Childhood Education International. Because the International Kindergarten Union and the National Council of Primary Education combined to form the Association for Childhood Education, the three record groups together provide a continuous history of the organization now known as the Association for Childhood Education International. The records date from 1892, the founding of the IKU, to 1986; however some items in the reading file, and elsewhere, predate the operating records. The majority of documents were generated between 1930 and 1967, with only a few items from the period 1967 to 1986. In addition to the printed material in Series 3, the last two subseries contain audio-visual materials and three-dimensional objects, such as toys used by early educators, from the ACEI records.
The second major part of this collection is Series 4--Personal Papers of Leaders in Childhood Education. Most of the over 250 people represented were active during the period 1920 to 1967. Coverage of individuals ranges from single folders with one-page, typed biographies to multiple boxes of letters, diaries, notes, speeches, and articles.
The third major segment of the ACEI Archives is a Reading File of historical material on early childhood education. These pamphlets, brochures, and magazines date back to 1807, with most from the period 1890 to 1950. They cover topics such as early curriculum, teacher education, the history of pre-kindergarten and kindergarten education, and the development of pre-school education in countries other than the United States.
The Association for Childhood Education International is an organization of teachers, parents, and other adults interested in promoting good educational practices for children from infancy through early adolescence. Maintaining a staff of thirteen, the Association is headquartered in Wheaton, Maryland, and currently has a membership of 13,000, with thirty-one state groups and 153 local groups. Established in 1892 as the International Kindergarten Union, the Association for Childhood Education International is the oldest professional association of its type in the United States.
On July 15, 1892, a group of kindergarten teachers and other interested persons gathered at the Baptist Church in Saratoga Springs, New York, to form the International Kindergarten Union. The educators sought to consolidate the gains made in early childhood education since the pioneering work of Friedrich Froebel, father of the kindergarten concept, in Germany during the 1820s and 1830s. They also planned collective action to promote kindergarten education at a time when traditional philanthropic support was dwindling while the public education establishment still resisted the concept of the kindergarten. The stated aims of the Union were "to gather and disseminate knowledge of the kindergarten movement throughout the world, to bring into active cooperation all kindergarten interests, to promote the establishment of kindergartens, and to elevate the standard of professional training" for kindergarten teachers. The Union acted to coordinate the efforts of local, regional, and national associations and to "collect, collate, and disseminate the valuable knowledge already attained, and to inspire greater and more intelligent efforts in the future."
The International Kindergarten Union was at first closely affiliated with the National Education Association and the National Council of Women. At the Denver meeting of the NEA in 1895, however, the International Kindergarten Union became completely independent with the decision to hold future meetings of the Union separately. The first meeting of the Union as an independent organization took place at Teachers College, New York City, in February 1896.
During the first three decades of the twentieth century, public school systems gradually absorbed kindergarten education. As this happened, the methods and objectives of kindergarten and primary education developed an increasing influence upon one another. Reflecting this growing relationship, the National Council of Primary Education (established 1916) adopted a new constitution on February 24, 1931, that joined it with the International Kindergarten Union under the name Association for Childhood Education. As a preliminary to that action, the Union had adopted the new constitution and name the previous year. The aim of unification was to "bring greatly enlarged and more forceful influence to bear in promoting progressive nursery school, kindergarten, and primary work throughout the country."
The ACE added "International" to its name at the Cincinnati meeting of 1946 as an indication of the Association's concern for children throughout the world, and particularly for the challenge of educational reconstruction in war zones. Activities of ACEI following the war centered on these challenges, with the Association sending play and curriculum materials, toys, and books for both teachers and children to liberated and occupied areas. ACEI also sponsored teachers from Norway, Germany, and Korea for study tours in the United States.
The Association was an early advocate of civil rights. In 1949, it denied requests from three state associations that each of those states have separate associations for blacks and whites with separate memberships in ACEI. In 1950, ACEI revised its "Guide for Groups Wishing to Extend Invitations to ACEI" to state that such an invitation must include an assurance that black members would have equal access to hotels, restaurants, and public transportation.
On April 18, 1952, the Executive Board of ACEI established a Headquarters Building Fund and, in 1955, appointed a Steering Committee for the project. In 1958, ACEI purchased land at Wisconsin Avenue and Quebec Street in Washington, D. C. Groundbreaking was held on May 24, 1959, and the Association dedicated the new building on August 14, 1960. In addition to administrative headquarters for ACEI, the building housed a Center for Childhood Education, a teaching and demonstration facility involving neighborhood children. The Center also included exhibition space and rooms for workshops and conferences. Changes in needs and resources necessitated a new facility, however, and in 1983-84, ACEI moved to its present headquarters in Wheaton, Maryland.
Currently, ACEI's goals are to promote the inherent rights, education, and well-being of all children in home, school, and community; to promote desirable conditions, programs, and practices for children from infancy through early adolescence; to raise the standard of preparation for teachers and others who are involved with the care and development of children; to encourage continuous professional growth of educators; to bring into active cooperation all individuals and groups concerned with children; and to inform the public of the needs of children and the ways in which various programs must be adjusted to fit those needs and rights.
In order to meet these goals, ACEI conducts workshops and travel/study tours abroad and offers awards for excellence in education. They also maintain liaison with government agencies, cooperating organizations, teaching institutions, and manufacturers and designers of materials and equipment for children. In addition to publishing books and pamphlets on a variety of subjects and bibliographies of children's literature, ACEI produces the ACEI Exchange monthly, Childhood Education five times per year, and the Journal of Research in Childhood Education biennially.
The archives are organized as five series.
The Association for Childhood Education International gave these records to the University of Maryland Libraries in 1987.
In addition, the collection donated by ACEI includes approximately 700 rare and semi-rare children's books and landmark works in childhood education. These were subsequently transferred to the Marylandia and Rare Books Department at the University of Maryland Libraries. For a listing of the available books, please visit the Marylandia and Rare Books Department. Researchers can also search for the books in the library catalog. By entering the term "ACEI" into the basic search and using the call number browse function, users can retrieve a listing of all the books in the collection.
The ACEI, as received from the Association, included four parts--Archives, a Manuscript Section, the Historical Materials file, and three-dimensional objects--and ten "un-numbered" boxes. From this system, five record groups and fourteen series were originally identified and the "un-numbered" boxes appropriately merged. When this existing finding aid was migrated to a new database and encoded according to Encoded Archival Description standards, the record groups were renamed as series and subseries. The finding aid was updated to reflect the change in titling for the arrangement in 2018 during a subsequent migration of the finding aid to a new collection management system.
The "Archives" (Association Records) had been arranged according to a complex alphanumeric system. To simplify this system, boxes were originally shifted and record group and series titles assigned to replace the alphanumeric identifiers. Following subsequent migration of the finding aid, all record groups have been relabeled as series, though all content remains the same. The series created from this portion were Series 1--International Kindergarten Union, Series 2 --National Council of Primary Education, and Series 3--Association for Childhood Education International. Series 3 was further subdivided into fourteen subseries. The audio-visual materials were put into a separate subseries within Series 3 and housed with the photographic collections for preservation purposes. The three-dimensional objects were also placed into their own subseries within Series 3. The items arrived in boxes that were numbered but it was discovered that there were several numerical series. To simplify the arrangement, the boxes were merged into one numerical run. The objects were wrapped in acid-free tissue paper or placed in acid-free folders or envelopes when necessary. All items were placed in acid-free boxes to protect them.
In October 2003, the photographs and slides were removed from folders and ill-fitting boxes and rehoused in non-reactive plastic sleeving and placed in photograph binder boxes. Captions on acidic paper were photocopied onto acid-free paper and discarded. Glass plate negatives and slides were rehoused in paper, four-flap envelopes and placed in the appropriately sized boxes. The Froebel Year 1952 photographs could not be removed from the oversize pieces of matte board on which they were mounted, so they remained in folders, interleaved with acid-free paper, and housed in an oversize Hollinger box.
The Manuscript Section eventually became Series 4--Personal Papers of Leaders in Early Childhood Education. The Manuscript Section had been arranged alphabetically but groups of papers had been added on to the end and the "un-numbered" file also contained several boxes of personal papers. All of these were merged to create a single alphabetic file. The papers of three people--Winifred Bain, Mary Leeper, and Agnes Snyder--were too extensive to interfile and were added on to the end. Papers found later were interfiled alphabetically at the end where there was space.
The Historical Materials File, renamed the Reading File, comprises Series 5. It remains essentially unchanged except that the alphanumeric numbering system for the boxes was replaced with consecutive numbers and two "un-numbered" boxes were added to the end. Any additional topics that were needed in later processing were also added to the end.
Keys to the former numbering system of the ACEI Archives are available upon request.
The collection of rare and semi-rare books were inventoried and a control number was assigned to each. A full bibliographic listing was prepared for each book when possible. For a listing of the available books, please visit the Marylandia and Rare Books Department. Researchers can also search for the books in the library catalog. By entering the term "ACEI" into the basic search and using the call number browse, users can retrieve a listing of all the books in the collection.
Part of the Special Collections and University Archives