Culture Clash and Accommodation
Frederick S. Buchanan
Stability and Change
The Administration of L. John Nuttall, Jr., 1932-44
John Nuttall, Jr., 1932-44
[p.135]Just as previous Salt Lake City superintendents had each faced problems unique to his particular tenure, the sixth superintendent, L. John Nuttall, Jr., faced the full impact of the Great Depression and World War II. According to his biographer, the fact that Nuttall’s administration fell between these two cataclysmic events required him to make unpopular decisions and provoked hard feelings among his staff, teachers, and the public.1
Nuttall’s extensive professional training in the economics of education qualified him, however, to handle the crises schools faced as they approached mid-century. Although Nuttall won a unanimous appointment, tension arose and persisted for years over lyes methods of teacher evaluation. He also won little popularity for his belief that schools simply were not able to correct what was not a failure of education, but a breakdown in the economic system.
For Nuttall, it was not the schools’ role to heighten expectations that “opportunity was just around the corner,” although the Salt Lake district did become involved in a federally sponsored Program of Occupational Adjustments. Nuttall was honored for his leadership in this enterprise.
As they had been since the 1890s, the schools under Nuttall were exposed to some progressive programs. Nuttall, as a former director of the University’s Laboratory School—the Stewart School—was very much steeped in “whole child” philosophy and saw the school as a moderate agent of social reform. Dr. Nuttall was in part responsible for keeping the schools in touch with some ideals, which, if never completely realized, kept public schooling from retro-gressing.
Toward the end of Nuttall’s tenure, Mormon/gentile antipathy returned. The Masonic majority on the board was whittled away until, by 1942, the Mormons commanded a majority In 1943 the board approved a released time program so students could study religion as part of the school day Even this most Mormon of changes, as with almost every other change in Salt Lake schools, had significant national precedent.
L. John Nuttall, Jr., led the schools through the depression, the war, and the last major clash over secular and Mormon values. He died just as the schools be-[p.136]gan to turn toward the challenges of the post war era. John Moffitt’s assessment of him as “progressive and conservative” aptly describes a superintendent who faced the dual dilemma of maintaining stability while promoting change.
An Insider with Outsider Credentials
Nuttall was born in Salt Lake City in 1887, the son of L. John Nuttall, Sr., and Christina Little Nuttall. His father was described as “a philosopher by temperament and a farmer through circumstance,” and his mother “a brainy, quick witted woman.” His paternal grandfather, also named L. John Nuttall, played a significant role in the 1880s as secretary to Mormon president John Taylor and as Superintendent of Utah Territory’s Common Schools—a position he held until ousted by federal anti-polygamy legislation around 1885.
Educated in the public schools at Lake View, Utah, he attended Brigham Young University High School and normal school and received a teaching certificate in 1906. After a few years as a principal and teacher in Linden, Utah, he studied at Columbia University and the University of Chicago. In 1911 he received a Bachelor of Science and in 1912, a Master’s degree from Teacher’s College of Columbia University He taught at Payson High School, was principal of Spanish Fork High School, served as superintendent of Iron County schools and from 1919 through 1922 was superintendent of Nebo School District. From public school administration he moved to a professorship of elementary and secondary teaching at BYU where he also served as director of the training school until 1924. Additional graduate studies led to a doctorate from Columbia in 1930, after which he was appointed professor of elementary education and director of the William Stewart Training School at the University of Utah.
Nuttall was serving in the latter capacity when the Salt Lake City Board of Education unanimously elected him to the fill the position made vacant by the death of George N. Child. In addition to numerous articles for local journals, Nuttall produced thirteen articles listed in the national Education Index and three books dealing with education. He and his wife, Fannie Burns, whom he married in 1911, were the parents of twelve children.2
The third Utahn to occupy the superintendent’s position, he was also the third to come to Salt Lake City after something of an apprenticeship in rural, Southern Utah schools. No evidence indicates that the old “outsider/insider” problem arose surrounding Nuttall’s appointment. He had the strong support of the educational establishment and was recommended to the board by George Thomas, President of the University of Utah, Milton Bennion, Dean of the College of Education, and LeRoy Cowles, Professor of Educational Administration at the University of Utah. About six weeks after Child’s death, Nuttall was installed as the district’s sixth superintendent.3
The Worth of a Teacher
[p.137]Nuttall’s appointment in August 1932 coincided with the deepening of the national economic depression. His recognition as an expert in school finance surely played a role in his appointment. According to A. E. Eberhardt, president of the Board of Education in 1932, Nuttall was a “business man type of schoolman” who knew more about financing public schools than “all the board members put together.”4
With financial difficulties at the forefront, Nuttall looked for a way to measure teachers’ “worth.” Teachers’ salaries were reduced a second time by ten percent in 1932-33.5 By 1934, however, there was some easing of the financial crunch and by the end of 1936 the maintenance deficit of almost $31,000, incurred during the first year of the depression, had been erased. Some small increases in teacher and other employee salaries were made.
In the 1933-34 school year a new salary schedule was drawn up, withholding any increase and mandating that reductions should be made depending on a teacher’s rating. Those teachers in the top 60 percent were supposed to be decreased no more than $120 per year; those in the bottom 40 percent were to receive a reduction no greater than $180 per year, while those holding a “probationary appointment” would not be reduced more than $240 per year.6 Nuttall was confident that a rating plan could be devised that would make the public feel that salaries actually represented the “educational worth” of the teachers. Nuttall’s policy met with stiff resistance from teachers and administrators.7
The highly subjective means of evaluating teachers and setting salaries common in previous administrations was a far cry from the impersonal, systematic, and “objective” policy Nuttall wanted. According to James Worlton, his assistant superintendent, Nuttall worked out a “sound salary schedule and tied it up with teacher rating, training and service.” Nuttall’s secretary recalled that the new schedule was to bring fairness to the distribution of salaries.8 However, in spite of claims that the new system would be fair or objective, the new superintendent’s efforts ran afoul of those most directly affected—the teachers.
Nuttall’s system consisted of simply ranking all teachers in the district. If there were thirty-five teachers in a given school, the principal was expected to rank all the teachers from one through thirty-five—with “#1” being the best teacher and “#35” the poorest. Paralleling the rating was a salary schedule, with the highest pay going to #1 with decreasing amounts down to #35. When this “scientific” attempt at rating teachers was put into effect for the 1933-34 school year it immediately ran into opposition. Quite apart from the trauma induced when some found their salaries reduced by some $900, it is probable that the [p.138]plan was derailed, as similar “merit pay” plans had been derailed in other parts of the United States, due to its inherent lack of precision and fairness. Wayne Urban points out that “the implacable opposition of teacher groups” doomed such proposals nationwide in the 1960s; there is probably warrant for assuming that the Salt Lake Teachers Association—the local affiliate of the Utah Education Association—undermined Nuttall’s system. Before the scheme was abandoned some teachers suffered “emotional breakdowns” from which they never fully recovered. Teachers found the system an attack on their personal integrity and classroom autonomy and some administrators objected to its inherent injustice.
The district attempted to modify the reform by classifying teachers into five different categories, but with no better results. Under pressure from teachers and administrators the district returned to the single salary schedule based on experience and training. The attempted innovation did not make it into the national educational press. The episode illustrates the resistance possible when teachers simply refuse to be subservient and tractable employees.9
Without Jobs, Can Schools Promote Opportunity?
Nuttall, his economic background notwithstanding, believed that education’s aim was not simply to save money or to make schools efficient. His doctoral dissertation at Columbia University, completed one year before his appointment to the superintendency, progressively approached the issue of educational opportunity: a major thesis of administrative progressives was that increasing the number of students was an essential part of educational progress.
Nuttall’s dissertation compared ways that Utah’s and Maryland’s county school systems increased the “amount of educational opportunity” available. He concluded that Utah’s centralized county schools promoted greater equality of educational opportunity. However, Maryland had made greater progress than Utah in equalizing teacher salaries. Although his first attempt at salary reform died young, Nuttall spent much of the remainder of his administration promoting a relatively progressive agenda—at least as compared with the social, political, and economic parameters of the times. In the depression era, economic retrenchment was paralleled by a similar educational conservatism. Nevertheless, a perusal of Nuttall’s depression-era reports reveals some attempts to move beyond traditional curriculum. Nuttall’s major task as superintendent was to provide students with equality of educational opportunity—a daunting task made all the more onerous by the stringent economic situation of the 1930s.10
Recent revisionist historians have questioned the schools’ efficacy as a pana-[p.139]cea for lack of opportunity. Similarly, the depression spawned considerable debate about public schooling’s ability to curb widespread economic dislocation. On one side was the traditional claim that the federal government should increase spending on public schools, allowing local systems to determine how to alleviate economic problems. Many non-educational New Dealers rejected this “trickle down” approach as ineffective. They favored direct intervention through federally sponsored agencies such as the Civilian Conservation Corp and the National Youth Administration. Even Charles Judd, Dean of the School of Education at the University of Chicago, expressed serious reservations about expecting the schools to correct massive social and economic problems. In his estimation the real problem facing the nation lay not in schools but in “structural causes, in the connections between industry, government and labor.” According to Judd, to think that expanded public education could solve the nation’s cataclysmic problems “may be a credit to one’s imagination but certainly not to one’s sober, objective thinking.”11
The American schools during the first third of the twentieth century took on missions as broad as the population they were called upon to serve. In John Nuttall’s view, while this breadth did not preclude attention to reading, writing, and arithmetic; it meant that schools had continually to accommodate their programs and purposes to the changing economic, social, and technological realities of a given period.
In 1935 Nuttall expressed the need for schools to broaden their base in order to accommodate so many different children. He then enumerated the ways in which the Salt Lake schools were already doing this: the Pupil Personnel Department helped “maladjusted children” through “visiting-teacher service”; more students were retained through graduation due to a program centered on the “articulating unit” between sixth grade and the first year of high school; graduation requirements were being made more “elastic”; high schools initiated physical education for handicapped students and a “general shop” class at West High was meeting the needs of “low ability boys.” Other indicators of “individualized” schooling included increased attention to the “mentally subnormal”; allowing part-time students the same status as full-time students; the “sane, conservative use of diagnostic tests and remedial work”; and general attention to the “peculiarities” as well as the “common elements of growth” of all children. Nuttall’s direction can be seen as a continual refinement of elements of administrative progressivism that D. H. Christensen and even Jesse Millspaugh had initiated thirty years earlier.
In 1920 only one student in seven remained in school long enough to enroll as a senior in high school. Large numbers of young people left school after the fifth grade; available work did not require school preparation. As Nuttall pointed out: “The lure of the professions and skilled crafts and business work was the motive which held young people in school.” In 1935 practically all students re-[p.140]ceived some high school experience and eighty percent were graduating. According to Nuttall, the “pressure of unemployment” unfortunately lead young people to expect that they would get better work if they graduated from high school. In reality, however, six out of every seven high school graduates would take work performing “common, simpler tasks.” In words that obscure his commitment to equal educational opportunity, Nuttall developed a case for increased school guidance to help them adjust to economic realities.
School must be motivated by other attractions than preferred vocational placement. Young people must be taught that it is honorable to perform common labor even though the worker has a complete public school or even college education. He must be taught that vocational selection will take place and, if he is not chosen for the restricted fields of employment requiring advanced training, he is not necessarily a failure. He must be taught that success is measured by citizenship participation, by enjoyment of a rich field of understanding and appreciation, and by happy human relationships. All these may be had regardless of the kind of job one has. All of these are dependent in part on school training. In school the program must be adapted and motivated in harmony with this unselected group of pupils, all of whom have complete lives to live and personalities worthy of the most sympathetic culture.12
Operating in the midst of the nation’s greatest economic depression may have weakened Nuttall’s former faith in schools as a means of equalizing opportunity Perhaps schools do this for some populations during periods of economic expansion, but when no jobs are available, schooling is a limited lever of opportunity, especially in the short term.
Nuttall reflected in his policies and pronouncements dominant themes echoing through the nation. His familiarity with the national network is measured by tendencies mentioned in his 1934-34 report: elimination of pupil failure, individualization, social promotion, differentiated curriculum, and the use of IQ test scores to group homogeneously These tendencies helped schools accommodate more students and reduce costs by lowering the number of students required to repeat a grade. If a practice could be shown to be both educationally and economically effective, the public would certainly respond positively.13
Nuttall’s assessment of the schools at the depth of the depression mixed the traditional rhetoric of boosterism with a more sober, realistic estimate of schools’ limitations. As an active Democrat he supported the federal government’s efforts to deal directly with the lack of jobs for those leaving high school. As a schoolman, however, he also envisioned the schools playing a significant role in promoting national economic recovery.
From the outset of his administration, Nuttall enacted policies that would unify “the stratified classes in America” by providing unemployed adults with general and vocational education, including principles of government, idealism, [p.141]and morality. Schools, in Nuttall’s view, helped maintain not only an equitable society but a secure and safe one. This rationale led to the establishment of an adult education program in Utah’s capital city in 1934. During its first year this program attracted some four thousand adults, attending one hundred and seventy-seven classes, dealing with thirty-seven different subjects. Aside from actually helping unemployed adults cope with the depression, these classes provided some income for unemployed teachers.14
As a cooperative effort, the schools provided facilities and textbooks and the federal government’s Emergency Education Program paid salaries of $13,634 for the 141 teachers involved in the project during its first year. Nationally, there was some reluctance on the part of boards of education to accept federal money for fear that it would undercut local control, but of $168,500 spent on repairs to Salt Lake City school buildings in 1933-34, $107,600 was provided by the federal government as a means of aiding the unemployed.15
School as Source of Hope and Limited Opportunity
Nuttall’s speeches and school reports place him among those who believed that the schools were one part of the issue of equality of opportunity He believed schools must be modified to meet the new demands placed on them. Shortly after becoming superintendent he held the view that the “present chief difficulty in education may be attributed to a lack of definite hope and opportunity ahead which would direct the plans and motivate the work of older children.” After eight years in office his opinion was essentially the same, although he seemed to be more critical of the overall economic system.
In a speech entitled “Becoming an Adult; A Social Problem of American Life,” Nuttall spelled out some of his concerns: industry and business were not recruiting young workers and the social and psychological problems of unemployment could only be solved if direct action was taken. Schools can play a part, he said, but “faith in an economic system comes only from its ability to serve all of the people,” which he implied was not happening. He referred to a letter from a 1938 graduate of a Salt Lake City high school. He was not attending school, not working, and not married—but not because of lack of effort:
As to future plans, I have not enough financial backing to make any. My life—my career? are at a standstill because of the economic stress of present times. My case is not unique. I regret to express the opinion (which is well-founded) that there are vast numbers of like instances. I am discouraged, disillusioned, downhearted. … Suicide I regard as the coward’s way out, although the thought of peace without further worry is undeniably sweet. I can but hope. For truly, both my faith and works have been dead—of no slightest avail.
Nuttall used this emotionally charged letter, written eleven years after the depression began, to call for a cooperative effort involving employers, labor organiza-[p.142]tions, press, radio, religious organizations, and schools. Such an effort would make “the industrial and economic system serve the people and thus make them loyal to it. There would be a change from that point of view which would make people fit an economic system regardless of its ability or its leaders’ willingness to serve the people who have created the system and whose welfare is dependent on it.” In many respects Nuttall sounds like a liberal social critic, but then his ideas on the schools’ role take on a decidedly traditional tone. The schools would cooperate with businesses to determine “occupational opportunities.” Guidance would help students develop interests in a variety of work, indoctrinating them that a “delay in employment” was “an adjustment of labor supply to technological development.” Nuttall assumed that some unemployment was due to students’ reticence to do “common” work. While the school can do much to help prepare youth for the gap between school and work, eventually the nation must give “all these young people an opportunity. And that political and economic system will survive which gives this opportunity.”16
In spite of Nuttall’s criticism cited above, much of what happened during these years reflected the traditional faith that with a little bit of tinkering schools would indeed help resolve the nation’s problems. Harry Hopkins, one of President Roosevelt’s advisors and a promoter of the National Youth Administration, did not agree. More direct federal action was necessary: “That is the crux of the whole thing; to decide once and for all this business of getting an education and going to law school and medical and dental school and going to college is not to be confined to the people who have an economic status at home that permits them to do it.”17
A Program of Occupational Adjustments
In the fall of 1934 the Salt Lake Board of Education assigned two coordinators to identify problems young people encountered in their efforts to get work. Many young people did not know how to contact potential employers and many employers didn’t know where to find skilled workers. Although these early efforts were stymied by social pressure to employ only men with families, under Nuttall’s leadership and with financial aid afforded by the George-Deen Act of 1936, a Vocational Center was established at West High with the explicit purpose of providing unemployed youths with a “program of occupational adjustment.” Part of the process was to link industry, business, and the schools, without flooding the market with unneeded workers or failing to train prospective workers adequately The school had to “chart a middle course and to be assured of the support of both employer and employee.”18
Nuttall enlisted the Kiwanis Club of Salt Lake to help provide vocational p.143]guidance to the city’s three high schools. He told the Kiwanis that cooperation between industry and the schools would help provide opportunity, but that an elaborate program with no results would harm the morale of the young. Industry would work best with schools “by suggesting specific training needed for employment in their line of work and by drawing attention to fields which may be expanded to provide more employment.”19
The exact impact these programs had on the unemployment rates is difficult to determine, but 116 boys were started as apprentices in part-time jobs during 1935-36. In the same year over 1,500 students (718 of whom were high school graduates) enlisted in the adult education program at the evening high school. Of these, 908 studied commercial subjects, 266 occupational trades, and 337 general education subjects. Fifty-three people received their high school diplomas in this way. The number participating represented about 75 percent of the number graduating from high school in the previous year (2,009). By 1938 the Evening High School at West High was Utah’s largest educational institution; it was meeting the needs of the two-thirds of Salt Lake’s students who did not go to college.20
Nuttall received extensive recognition for his occupational work in the Salt Lake City schools. The “National Occupation Conference,” funded in part by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation, chose him in 1937 to be part of a team to study occupational work in midwestern and eastern cities. He was also selected as a member of the committee that produced the 1938 yearbook of the Department of Superintendence of the National Education Association. When he was chosen to contribute an article on “Employment of Post High School Youth” in the yearbook, the Salt Lake Tribune saw it as “recognition of the successful experiments carried out here under his supervision.” According to the superintendent, by 1937 the Salt Lake City school district was one of the “foremost” leaders of the “Occupational Adjustment Program” in the nation. Since the program’s inception in 1934, “literally hundred of young people, men and women have been aided.” When the American Association of School Administrators met in St. Louis, Missouri, in February 1940, Nuttall led the section entitled “Adopting the Training Program to the Needs of Your Community”21
Of course, as much good as Nuttall’s programs did, the nation’s economic problems were not fully relieved until the U.S. entered the Second World War, when the armed forces absorbed many young people who otherwise would have been unemployed. As is the case with many educational innovations, larger issues crowd out the significance of educational reform. The economic depression did it during the thirties—now the war machine was ready for a turn.
Progressive Education—Rhetoric or Reality?
[p.144]In spite of conventional wisdom that equates the 1930s with progressive education, students of depression-era progressivism claim that innovation in the curriculum was, unfortunately, the exception rather than the rule: “We suspect that actual changes in instruction were modest [during the depression era] and that the traditional teacher-centered mode of drill and recitation remained by far the most common pattern.”22
In the absence of actual descriptions of classroom activities in say, 1920, with those of 1940, it is difficult to offer a precise analysis of what changes, if any, occurred. However, there are some rough indicators that might serve to gauge the degree to which a few Salt Lake City’s schools during this era were at least “mainstream progressive,” although “drill and recitation” probably dominated most schools.
One indicator of the extent to which some Salt Lake City schools attempted to move beyond tradition is an experimental curriculum developed and implemented between 1933 and 1938. Conducted by James T. Worlton, Assistant Superintendent of Schools, and Arthur E. Arnesen, Supervisor of Curriculum and Research, this study had “the desire to provide children with enriched and meaningful educational experiences; to democratize classroom practices; and to devise methods and techniques of practical classroom application for an increased emphasis on the personality development of pupils.”23 The experiment was one of a number of studies organized in various parts of the country under the general direction of Professor William A. McCall of Columbia University’s Teachers College. McCall, a psychometrician, believed in 1937 that the time was ripe for the “scientific” measurement of experiments in progressive education. By 1939, six studies had been reported in the pages of Teachers College Record; Salt Lake City was the seventh.
The second semester of the 1936-37 school year marked the commencement of the experiment. Three of the district’s best “conservative” schools were designated as control schools along with four comparable “experimental” schools. The latter were following the “new curriculum, with its philosophy, methods and techniques,” while the control schools followed the traditional curriculum. The experimental curriculum was K through the “articulating unit” (grade 7) core curriculum, based on “the nine individual and social functions selected as the basic things that people do.” These functions included, for example, “Health and protection of life and conservation of natural resources”; Socializing the individual—intergroup relations”; and “Consumption of goods and services.” Four of the nine, according to Worlton and Arnesen, had never been part of the traditional school curriculum: “Enrichment of life through leisure activities; Expression of spiritual and aesthetic impulses; Conservation and improvement of race culture”; and “Education as a means of achieving individual and social goals.” Obviously the “Cardinal Principles” of 1918 had influenced the educators [p.145]who identified these basic social functions of public schools.
Sophisticated measurement tests determined student progress and at the end of the experiment, in May 1938, the observers concluded that the experimental schools more successfully put into practice a democratic way of living. Typical of many attempts to test progressive practices, the control groups did somewhat better on the basics. However, as far as social and personality gains were concerned (the summum bonum of education for progressive educators), the experimental schools made greater gains. Teachers involved in the experimental schools were also convinced that the approaches used in their schools were more successful than the approaches of the standard curriculum.24
Perhaps not coincidentally, the Progressive Education Association held its Utah Regional Conference at the University of Utah only a few months after the curriculum experiment was concluded. The conference theme was “Education Moves Ahead” and the program reads like a “who’s who” roster for progressive education: William Heard Kilpatrick and Lois Hayden Meek of Teacher’s College; Paul Hanna of Stanford; Elsie Ripley Clapp of the Progressive Education Association; Louis Paths of Ohio State; C. L. Cushman and M. R. Ahrens of the Denver Public Schools. L. John Nuttall served with Clapp, Hanna, and others on a panel to consider questions like: “What are the promising movements in education today?” and “What are the responsibilities of schools? Of the home? Of the community?” At the conference’s conclusion, William Heard Kilpatrick, the father of the “project method,” took to the pulpit of the Mormon Tabernacle and, suitably backed up by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, “preached” on the subject “Education for Today.”25
If “progressive” is defined as a broadening of the curriculum to accommodate a wide range of student abilities and needs, it can with some justification be claimed that Salt Lake’s schools in the 1930s offered a more progressive menu than had been adhered to in the first two decades of the twentieth century. Evidence of change via such broad principles is likely to be less radical in appearance than if narrowly conceived practices had been adopted. This may be why some historians have labelled American education during the depression as “short-term dislocation and long-term continuity” It may also explain why the broader and more conservative “Cardinal Principles” played such a dominant role in shaping the curriculum (and some school practices) during the 1930s.26
“Learning by Doing”
A few examples of “progressive” changes will illustrate the conservative nature of school change and also show the connection between community and the school—a dominant feature of progressive thought. The traditional Halloween [p.146] celebration had become a problem as vandalism increased. In response, the Uintah School organized an official Halloween Parade as a means of preventing mischief. Also at Uintah, the whole school was transformed into a Ute Indian village in the spring of 1935, the “Indian ceremonies and rituals portrayed, rival[ing] those of the Red Man himself.” Using the school in this way departed from the sterility of text book instruction about Native American life. In 1936 the Onequa School instituted a curriculum in which students helped plan and work out real-life “problems.” In addition to improved visual aids the program used excursions and outside speakers to involve students. Such approaches, mild as they may be, give some credence to the claim that progressive education existed in Utah’s capital city.27
Local school initiatives to clean up the physical environment might also be seen as progressive. At Jordan Junior High School, under the leadership civic-minded Principal D. R. Coombs, teachers and students transformed an eye-sore on the banks of the Jordan River into a campus quite unlike any other in Salt Lake City. The beautification project included cleaning up the river bank that skirted the school, planting lawns, flowers, and willow trees, and constructing a bridle path along the river bank. Student twins Harry and Larry Blundell supervised other students in constructing a copper and concrete sundial for the school grounds. The sundial project had grown out of geometry, art, and civics classes. A boat house was built and students constructed boats for use on the river. Juanita Barclay Wheelwright recalls that her own interest in artistic expression was a direct result of the natural environment of the Jordan School campus, where students were encouraged to observe nature closely rather than paint “all tree trunks brown and all leaves green.”28
The Jordan River beautification project was entered in a national competition sponsored by Current Events magazine and in 1941 was the subject of an article in the Reader’s Digest. The writer, Frances K. Rummell, saw the project not only as a way of cleaning up the community, but as having educational benefits. Perhaps most importantly, in the view of adults who see every generation but their own as lacking a work ethic, the project had channelled “their storming energy, their yearning for accomplishment” and prevented the “inane frittering” away of these priceless assets of youth.29
Another “progressive” practice may be seen in Nuttall and Eaton’s 1933 movement to reorganize the school athletic program to promote intra-city competition and to allow many more students to be involved in athletics. Withdrawing the city schools from the Utah High School Athletic Association, George [p.147]Eaton claimed that the boys would be able to compete with others of the same age and maturity and “more time would be given to encourage and to develop athletic participation within the school.” Within three years the program was hailed a success and the slogan “Every Boy An Athlete” was being realized. Nuttall wanted to maximize the active participation of all students; the change brought not only an increase in those playing, but also in those attending the games (including, presumably, girls—as spectators).30
Although the new athletic philosophy, at least in theory, fostered cooperation over competition, Nuttall said the “only reason” for withdrawing from the state association was a very practical one: Salt Lake City schools, since 1928, had allowed students to graduate at the end of the eleventh year in school, and its teams were put at a “distinct disadvantage, and even in some danger” when competing with teams whose senior players were more mature. Quite frankly, the competition was uneven and the eleven-year schools were not racking up the wins every community expects. In spite of the proclaimed success of the intra-district athletic program, in 1942 the schools rejoined the association against Nuttall’s will.31 In time the Eleven Year Program was also abandoned.
Just as Nuttall suffered some criticism for his alleged tendency to be undemocratic—evident in his attempts to force a merit pay system on the teachers—neither did his espousal of progressive ideas always win acceptance. One former board member, highly critical of Nuttall’s progressive philosophy, described him as a
“very Academic person,” brought up in the Columbia University “philosophy,” not advocating grades or marks but rather a curve. He didn’t believe students should compete against each other, so poor students wouldn’t get inferior feelings … . I could never agree; it was tried and proved unfeasible … . [P]eople should be encouraged, not held down to a level of mediocrity just for less depressed students … they don’t do that in Russia … they just weed them out. … [T]hey don’t have unemployment, those who fail, they sweep the streets. We try to bring everybody along … we’ve missed.32
No doubt this evaluation contains more than a little personal bias. Nevertheless, this description of Nuttall’s focus on using schools to meet the needs of individual students says something about Nuttall’s progressive philosophy of education.
Schools as a Bastion of Democracy
The onset of war brought some disruption of enrollments and some school personnel were drafted into military service. But Nuttall, socially aware educator that he was, saw the war as a challenge to the schools to preserve the nation’s [p.148]”political, cultural, and spiritual traditions.” In Nuttall’s words, “the social setting” of the times shape the aims of the society’s schools. The war was, of course, viewed as a struggle between good and evil, and few doubted that schools were an important agency in promoting the good of democracy against the evils of totalitarianism. While the focus of the report issued on the eve of World War II could very easily have been one which stressed nationalism or played on a fear of “foreign” influences, it was significantly entitled Children in a Democratic American City, and its major focus was the principle of “respect for and the recognition of the significance of each person as an individual.” District staff prepared statements on how individual differences could be met across the curriculum, including the special needs of gifted students, remedial students, those with physical impairments and those who had behavior problems. Each school outlined ways they were meeting individual differences and, naturally, there was no one way to do this. The headings of these presentation give some sense of what was being attempted: “The Transient Child,” from Emerson School; “The Ego of Adolescents,” from West High, while Irving Junior High proclaimed: “The School Exists for the Pupils.”33
Included were case studies of how children had been helped as individuals. For example Irmgard, a fourteen-year-old student at Jordan Junior High, was recognized as a bright student who was being affected by the war: her natural parents were in Germany and other students apparently harassed her over her language and national origin. This in turn caused her to keep to herself: “[She] broods considerably about her real parents and the war.” Her advisor, however, kept in close touch with her legal guardians and made considerable progress with her happiness: “She likes art and sewing and does well in all subjects for which she is enrolled. Our job is to improve the social outlook and make her more content with her environment.”
John, an eighteen-year old at East High School, moved to Salt Lake City from Nebraska and was unable to complete the agricultural course he had started in. Discouraged and dissatisfied, he and his mother, who thought he should attend college, met with his counsellor and “the three of us analyzed his previous high school work and it developed that he was interested in mechanics but very much disliked mathematics. He was not interested in college but in aero-mechanics. I recommended that he be accepted in the defense training course in mechanics and requested that credit for this might apply towards his high school graduation. He did take the training suggested and is very happy in his work.”34
One fifth grader’s mother wrote to the principal of Douglas School that she appreciated
very much the efforts you are making to help Sally in her adjustment program. I feel that she is improving. She enjoys the marble tournament very much and is happy in her work with her teachers. … Right now she is interested in a little play she is writing for Miss —’s work. I wish you could help her avoid talking too rapidly, or do you think this would make her self-conscious? The doctor says [p.149]her skin condition has cleared up very well.35
These examples illustrate the focus on individual needs characteristic of the schools of the early 1940s, although one has to keep in mind that the rhetoric of annual reports may differ from the actual situation in schools. Of course, not every student’s needs could be met by the schools, but a humaneness in the statements above suggests that the needs of children were an important part of schools in American society, even during war.
When the war actually became an American reality in December 1941 the schools played a supportive role. School buildings were designated as emergency centers and teachers helped distribute rationing books, registering the entire population for sugar rationing. As in World War I, children were encouraged to sacrifice their own dollars and cents as relief funds for America’s British, Polish, Greek, and Russian allies. Also as part of the “war service expected of schools,” Salt Lake’s schools were among the nation’s first to use the public school curriculum as a vehicle for training workers for the defence industries. Vocational education, put in place at the height of the depression, was now “one of the [schools’] gifts to victory,” supplying the demands of the defence industries that rapidly mushroomed in Salt Lake City. And, once again, Superintendent Nuttall focused on adult education as an aspect of vocational programs.
In an official statement, “Schools in Wartime,” which spelled out the role schools should play during the war, Nuttall devoted considerable space to raising money for the war through increased taxes, direct contributions to agencies such as the Red Cross, and lending money to the government through war bond drives. He cautioned, however, that in promoting bond drives teachers should not create dissension in families without means through “instruction, propaganda or school pressure.” To use “institutional embarrassment and pressure,” he feared, “may create sentiments of class struggle and ill will as an educational product.”36
The war directly affected the classrooms in various ways. Teachers warned children of the gravity of “talking too much,” and classrooms bore ominous banners which cautioned: “A slip of the lip can sink a ship,” although no evidence indicates that a Japanese landing in the Great Salt Lake was imminent. (The fear of a Japanese air attack actually led to the cancellation of an annual music festival in the Mormon Tabernacle; it was instead spread over five nights at the South High auditorium.) Teachers were given air raid warden duties and instructed how to deal with incendiary bombs and air raids. Boy Scouts in city schools were recruited as first aid workers in case of an air raid. Eventually a teacher shortage brought about by the draft and the addition of 1,378 children (as of 1942) of defence workers, led Nuttall to relax the policy against married women teaching. These circumstances also raised the possibility that some federal funds would be made available to help the district hire additional teachers.37
[p.150]For all the energy that went into making the schools serve a nation at war, Nuttall reminded readers of the Fifty-second Annual Report that the schools had a more long-lasting and significant role to play: the education of eleven grades of children, the oldest of whom would probably be involved in the war, but most of whom “must be brought through to maturity for service in postwar days.” War aims must be supported by the schools, he said, but teaching fundamental learning skills, maintaining a healthy way of life, developing tolerance, conserving sound emotional status and basic loyalty to American ideals of freedom—these could not be ignored. Nor did he believe the school should become “the agent of special groups” who apparently wanted to make the war effort the schools’ major aim. In spite of efforts to do “business as usual,” the schools were shaped by the war; indeed Nuttall went as far as to say, without elaborating, that if the war lasted long it would require “the sacrificing of part of the school program.”38
The Politics of Released-time Seminary
Depression economics, progressive ideology, and the war effort all brought changes in the Salt Lake schools during L. John Nuttall’s superintendency, but one thing had not changed: the makeup of the board of education. For nearly all his tenure the Free Masons maintained their majority on the board. Over the years, however, there had been an overt lessening of tensions between Mormons and persons of other or no religion, as Mormons continued to accommodate themselves to public schooling and as non-Mormons became teachers and educational leaders beside their former antagonists. By the 1920s and 1930s, old antagonisms seem to have disappeared in a climate of cordiality, tolerance, and good will.
One issue, however, threatened to return the district to the “bad old days”—the issue of released-time seminary for high school students. Released-time had been allowed by policy everywhere in the state except in Salt Lake City, from seminary’s beginnings in 1912 through its growth in the 1920s and 1930s. Masons, who had dominated the school board with rare exceptions since 1890, had successfully thwarted Mormon efforts to institute a released-time policy in the Salt Lake district.39
Probably stimulated by the war’s focus on freedom and moral courage, the attention of Salt Lake’s patrons was drawn to the issue of released-time religious education programs. It could not have escaped the attention of LDS general authorities living in the city that their children lacked a privilege available to every [p.151]other Mormon student in the state; 10 percent of the LDS students in Salt Lake’s school district took seminary compared with 70 percent elsewhere.40
For Nuttall, facing as he was a deepening economic crisis, the seminary issue in the early 1930s was a luxury; however, he was very supportive of character education and, given his Mormon roots, would no doubt have encouraged religion as a basis for moral education. In undated personal notes, he wrote that students should ideally spend an hour each day pursuing religious training, either provided by their respective churches or, more practically, by using the Bible in the public schools as an instructional text: “I see no logical reason why we shall not some day teach ‘Bible Literature’ as part of the ‘English Curriculum,’ as well as a course in Bible stories; likewise teach Old Testament History and New Testament History in the ‘History’ curriculum …. I know of nothing better adapted for the development of worthy home life and citizenship than Bible study when led by a teacher who genuinely loves the Bible and believes the same.”41
Nuttall’s views may have encouraged the LDS Commissioner of Education, Dr. Franklin West, to ask the Mormon law firm of Bagley, Judd, and Ray in March of 1936 to determine whether the board of education could be “forced to grant released time” to junior and senior high school students in Salt Lake City. Robert L. Judd informed West that because the board had immense discretionary legal authority to make whatever school policies it wished, it was unlikely that it could be forced to act.42 In 1938 LDS First Presidency member J. Reuben Clark, Jr., had spoken out about the need for parents to have a say in what children were taught; he also encouraged the adoption of policies allowing for released time seminary.43
Before the December 1938 school board election, one of the six Masons on the school board, D. E. Hammond, told a Tribune reporter that the board had “never discussed released time,” but that the issue was clearly “in the air.” The Tribune warned against a “drift” in sentiment about “the advisability of teaching religion during school hours.” The Telegram identified “religious study during school hours,” as an issue needing to be resolved.44
Although only ten percent of the electorate voted, it was a watershed election. Mormon attorney, bishop, and past mission president LeGrand P. Backman defeated Masonic incumbent Harvey Gustin in the first precinct. Nephi Morris, insurance executive and former president of the LDS Salt Lake Stake, p.152]won by a landslide over his opponent in the third precinct. It was the first time Masons and Mormons had faced each other in equal numbers in two decades.
Nationally, many supported increased activism for religious education. The character development movement, begun in 1920, had intensified steadily. By 1940, 455 schools systems throughout the United States offered classes or released time for religious education programs.45 The outbreak of World War II in Europe and the likelihood that the United States would be drawn into the conflict brought new attention to the topic; and the 1940 White House Conference on Children in Democracy included a session on “Religion in the Lives of Children,” which reported that an estimated half of American children and youth “receive no religious instruction outside the home.”46 The session urged schools to meet these needs.
In the October LDS General Conference that year, Elder John A. Widtsoe of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles pointedly appealed for public schools to have “eager cooperation with every project such as our LDS Seminaries and Institutes to supply religious instruction outside the school.”47
The city’s Mormon population was rising as war industry drew Mormons from Utah’s rural communities and stood at about 50 percent in 1940.48 At the first election for the enlarged board of 12, in December 1940, Mormons held their own, maintaining technical parity with the Masons but actually achieving a substantial gain. Four new board members were chosen: one Mason and three Mormons. The Mason was H. J. Plumhof, Congregationalist, former general superintendent of the Union Pacific Railroad, and member of Mount Moriah Lodge since 1908.
The Mormons were Albert G. Zenger, chief bookkeeper for Walker Bank and former member of the Twenty-fifth Ward bishopric; George L. Crowther, editor and publisher of the Salt Lake Times and later bishop of the Mt. Olympus Ward; and Genevieve R. Curtis, a former teacher and Relief Society president in Parley’s Ward, the first woman to penetrate this circle of Mormon, Mason, and male interests. Mother of eight and wife of prominent coal merchant A. R. Curtis of Sugarhouse, she was a teacher, founding president of the Irving Junior High School PTA, and president of the Salt Lake City PTA Council. Her son Lindsay R. Curtis believed that, as part of the over-all Mormon political strategy, she was “invited” to run for one of the newly created positions. She beat her male opponent, Leo Rusk, two-to-one.
[p.153]Mormon John B. Matheson, city commissioner and president of the newly created Riverside Stake, was reelected as were two Masons: dentist D. D. Stockman, a Congregationalist and past grand master of the Grand Lodge of Utah; and Frederick C. Loofbourow, past president of the Salt Lake Unitarian Society, former jurist, and Republican representative from Utah (1930-33). Not up for reelection that term were two Mormons (Nephi Morris and LeGrand P Backman) and three Masons: D. E. Hammond, executive of the Salt Lake Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Fisher Harris, the city attorney, and Seymour L. Billings, trust company executive.49
Mormons clearly saw the achievement of equality on the board as a victory. In fact, Franklin West was a bit too exuberant and mistakenly told the LDS Board of Education in January 1941 that the Salt Lake Board of Education was “now composed of eight LDS members and five non-LDS members.”50 The seats were still divided six and six.51
Some sense of the anticipation with which Mormons faced the next election in 1942 comes from Mormon school board president Nephi Morris, who reportedly told his non-Mormon colleagues, “We have the advantage and we’ll use it.” While no evidence exists of official encouragement for Mormons to vote a particular way, Stanley Cannon recalled hearing his father, George J. Cannon of the Ensign Stake presidency, discuss the issue of Mormon representation on the school board around 1938 with his family “and the need for Church members to vote for LDS candidates so as to balance out the Masonic influence on the board.” Similarly, Oscar W. McConkie recalled that the bishop of Twentieth Ward in 1942 encouraged ward members to vote in the school elections (the polls were in their meetinghouse) because the “time had come in Salt Lake City when we didn’t want the Salt Lake Board of Education controlled by Masons.”52
Unquestionably, the Masons, as Salt Lake’s most viable political minority, feared Mormon bloc voting. Newell B. Dayton, a Mason and former board member, once commented with a certain amount of hyperbole: “The Mormons are organized. The night before election, they can roll ’em in by the thousands. … A lot of the people are like sheep and will do whatever the bishop says. … He can dominate the whole membership.”53
For Salt Lake’s Mormons, released-time religious education was more and more coming to represent a major issue. And clearly a Mormon majority on the p.154]school board would serve the Church Board of Education’s interests. Franklin West, as Church Commissioner of Education, appears to have helped plan the strategies followed in making released-time a reality: the first priority was to gain a Mormon majority on the board.54
When the 1941-42 school year opened, Nephi Morris, the president of the board and also president of the LDS Salt Lake Stake, informed the board’s legal advisors that parents of Mormon high school students would soon petition for released time. He wanted a ruling on whether the board could “legally grant release[d] time during school hours for the purpose of taking classes in religious education.” A.M. Cheney responded with an eleven-page summary of legal precedents and problems involving released time in other areas of the United States, concluding that “We do not feel that there exists a proper basis for the expression of an opinion of even substantial certainty” If the board refused to grant the petition, it would be within its legal rights. On the other hand, if they granted released time “probably the courts would be called upon to decide it.”55
Apparently LDS patrons were willing to risk litigation. On 10 February 1942, a petition bearing some 3,500 signatures was presented to the board asking for a released-time program and graduation credit for Bible classes. Such a program, the petition said, would promote “good citizenship” and combat “the excessive amount of juvenile delinquency and crime which prevails in our community” Safeguarding civilization required the “acquiring of deep religious convictions through careful guidance in the field of religion.” The petitioners urged the board to act “immediately” on the matter.56
A few days before the election of December 1942, the Tribune editorialized that voting in this election was crucial because of the role schools must play in “post-war reconstruction.” It hoped that “sectarian exclusiveness” would vanish and appealed to voters to select board members who were “selfless and who put national needs above advantage for self, party or denomination.”57
[p.155]But in that election, the balance tipped by a crucial seat. Dr. Rowland Merrill, a prominent ophthalmologist and son of Joseph F. Merrill unseated Fisher Harris, a Mason, in the fourth precinct. For the first time since 1920 the Mormons held a majority When the board convened in January 1943 it consisted of seven Mormons, four Masons, and Hubert Cochrane, an employee of the City Water Department and a member of the Loyal Order of the Moose. The Masons averaged six years of service on the board, and the Mormons 4.5.58 The seven Mormons were prominent in business and ecclesiastical circles, the kind of people whose presence constituted an automatic stamp of approval among hierarchically conscious Latter-day Saints.
With a Mormon majority on the board, it was time for LDS leaders to act. On 8 June 1943, a delegation of prominent LDS citizens, headed by attorney Lynn S. Richards, son of Apostle Stephen L Richards, attended the board meeting. Richards’s main law partners were Henry D. Moyle, who in 1947 would be appointed to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and David Lawrence McKay, son of David O. McKay, then second counselor in the LDS First Presidency Other members of the group were D. Crawford Houston, Director of Communications for the Kennecott Copper Company; Lester F. Hewlett, businessman; attorney Perris S. Jensen and his wife, Gwen Williams Jensen; Justice Martin M. Larson of the Utah Supreme Court; and E. J. Steinfeldt, a lieutenant (and later chief) in the Salt Lake police force.59
Richards petitioned the board to release students for seminary during what would otherwise be a study period. He claimed to represent many parents who felt a need for “character education, plus religious and spiritual values [as] part of our City school’s educational system.” Released time, Richards affirmed, would not disrupt the school schedule nor conflict with either the state or federal constitutions.60
Board members who opposed the petition, all of them non-Mormon, questioned the difficulty of administering the arrangement, feared that eventually credit would be requested, expressed doubts about the measure’s constitutional-[p.156]ity, and expressed concern about the lack of prior notice and, hence, public discussion of the issue. Richards asked that the board act immediately and assured them that credit would not be requested. After the delegation left, Backman moved to summarily adopt a released-time policy Non-Mormons Plumhof, Cochrane, and Woolley, requested that the motion be held over “until a later meeting so that other citizens could be heard from.” The issue was scheduled for reconsideration two weeks later.61
On 22 June the board met to debate and decide the issue. The Deseret News was relatively restrained though supportive of released time, while the Tribune and Telegram opposed the idea with vigor as did the Salt Lake Ministerial Association and other groups.62 If the newspaper reports are accurate, most of those who spoke at the meeting were vehemently opposed to the idea and were greeted with applause and cheering. When a Mrs. E. P. Evans supported the proposal because it would give “the spiritual protection each of us needs in these catastrophic times,” her remarks were “all but drowned in the flood of boos,” hisses, and jeers.
Stockman feared that the proposal was not in the best interests of the education of children. A second Mason on the board, Plumhof, cast doubt on the validity of the original petition which he (probably correctly) claimed had been circulated only in LDS wards. He proposed that a petition should be circulated city-wide for a correct reading of the community’s sentiments. Eighty-year-old Oscar VanCott, a veteran Utah educator who had reputedly produced the first draft of Utah’s 1890 first free-school law and who had vehemently criticized the seminary idea in the 1930s, brought the meeting to a climax by proposing that the people at the meeting hold a standing vote directly on the motion. This was not allowed, but “a spontaneous standing vote showed [that] the audience was almost unanimously against the adoption of the motion.”63 After VanCott’s grandstand gesture, Backman moved that the board adopt the released-time proposal as petitioned by the parents’ delegation. Predictably, the seven “Yeas” were Mormons, and the five “Nays” were four Masons and a Moose.64
Although some talk after the meeting hinted at legal action against the board, reaction seems to have died down quickly. Interviewed for the Deseret News two days later, the Episcopal Bishop of Utah, Reverend Arthur W. Moulton, actually praised the board’s decision as an aid to religious education in general, adding that “some of our people have been too quick on the trigger in criticizing this proposal.” He was willing to allow time for the experiment to be tried and [p.157]hoped to make use of facilities (presumably LDS) for Episcopalian religious education. The Superintendent of Catholic Schools in Salt Lake City, the Reverend Dr. Robert J. Dwyer, said that released time had been useful where it had been tried and that it would remain to be seen how the Salt Lake plan worked out.
Nothing would have been more natural than for the issue to have become a rallying cry in the 1944 board election, in which seven members were up for reelection. But in a remarkably “light vote,” four incumbents were returned and three new members were elected. Wilford Beesley, a Mormon, and George Keyser, a Mason, were returned unopposed. When the board organized in January 1945, the composition was nine Mormons, two Masons, and one who was neither—the first time the Mormons had ever achieved such a decided majority No editorials exhorted citizens about the dangers of “sectarianism.” Even the Tribune had limited its preelection rhetoric to a simple reminder that voting in board elections was one way of ensuring “the quality of intelligence and citizenship of tomorrow’s men and women.” The divisiveness of 1943 was left behind and the Mormons had assumed responsibility for the direction schools would take.65
By August 1943, the guidelines for implementing the released-time policy were approved by the board. In addition to stating unequivocally that no credit would be given for these religion classes, the policy declared that no change in graduation requirements would be made to accommodate students. Principals were also cautioned about hindering parent requests or making it difficult for students to take seminary if they wished.66
The LDS seminary case remains an example of local church/education/political interests in tension. As George S. Counts pointed out in his classic 1929 study, a school board functions primarily in the realm of political power. A liberal, progressive educator who urged schools to become direct agents of social change, Counts termed as a “pious fraud” the view that bankers, merchants, lawyers, etc., could represent disinterestedly the best educational interests of the community. On the contrary, “the content, spirit, and purpose of public education must reflect the bias, the limitations and the experience of the membership of this board.”67
Board president T. Quintin Cannon suggested that the tension between the Masons and the Mormons on the board was, rather than primarily over religion, over power in the community—especially money power. He claimed that when the Masons were in power, most of the school district’s tax receipts would be deposited in gentile banks such as Tracy-Collins Trust, Walker Bank, and Continental Bank. Conversely, when Mormons were in control of the board, the money [p.158]was deposited in Mormon banks like Zion’s First National and Utah National Bank.68 Certainly the Salt lake board of education members represented the business, professional, managerial, and commercial interests that dominated public boards nationwide, while simultaneously lacking representatives of what Counts terms “the laboring classes.”69 However, in Utah class and social considerations are often overridden by religion, so that many issues which might be interpreted as economic or political elsewhere are reduced in Utah to a matter of Mormon vs. non-Mormon, or as in the issue of released time, Mormon vs. Mason.70
The Legacy of a Conservative Progressive
The released-time question was the last major issue Superintendent Nuttall faced. For some time he had suffered from diabetes, and within a year of the adoption of the guidelines governing the program Nuttall died of a heart attack at age 57. One of his former students, J. C. Moffitt, superintendent of Provo City School District, claimed Nuttall had influenced the educational thinking of more Utahns than any other educational leader. Another put him in the same category as A. C. Nelson, William Stewart, Joseph Kingsbury, and Karl Maeser. Under Nuttall’s leadership Salt lake City’s public school system withstood the turmoil of the depression and the onset of World War II. He never let the public and teachers forget that the primary aim of the schools was to meet the changes forced on them by the larger society, at the same time keeping individual students’ needs at the forefront. If there was sufficient evidence to support a course of action, he would be progressive and adopt and promote the idea, but in the absence of warrant for change he remained conservative. Milton Bennion assessed him as an educator who was critical of the status quo and anxious to make changes. However, he was no radical and had a basic commitment to “fundamentals and thoroughness.”71
The schools of Salt Lake City at mid-century gave the impression of being relatively humane institutions. Nuttall helped shape the schools to this end. The progressive education he espoused and tried to implement provided continual challenge to future generations who might be tempted promote special interests or favor the status quo rather than recognizing broad-gauged interests and ever-expanding needs of the human community continually calling for new insights and change. Nuttall’s schools tried to do both.
[p.136]2. Robinson, “Educational Contributions,” 5-16; Christian Jeppeson, History of the Lake View Ward (Provo: J. G. Stevenson, 1969), 108; “Board Votes University Director in Unanimously,” Deseret News, 26 Aug. 1932.
[p.138]9. Robinson, “Educational Contributions,” 35-38; Dorothy Higgs Smith, Oral History, 2 Aug. 1990; Wayne J. Urban, “Teacher Activism,” in Donald Warren, ed., American Teachers: Histories of a Profession at Work (New York: MacMillan, 1989), 191.
10. Nuttall’s dissertation was published as Progress in Adjusting Differences of Amount of Educational Opportunity Offered Under the County Unit Systems of Maryland and Utah, Teachers College, Columbia University Contributions to Education, No. 431 (New York: Bureau of Publications, Teachers College, Columbia University, 1931). See pages 49, 60, 62, 75, and 76-95.
21. Information on the recognition given to Nuttall was gleaned from articles appearing originally in the Salt Lake Tribune, 28 Mar., 6 Apr., 18 May 1937, and 27 Feb. 1940. These are quoted extensively in Robinson, “Educational Contributions,” 51-2.
25. Other guest speakers gave “sermons” on the same topic along the Wasatch Front including Paul Hanna in Provo, C. L. Cushman in the Logan Tabernacle, and Elsie Ripley Clapp in the First Ward Chapel in Cedar City “Progressive Education Association, Program for the Utah Regional Conference, April 22, 23, 24, 1938, Salt Lake City.”
29. Frances V. Rummell, “After-School Work for Softies,” Readers’ Digest (Jan. 1941): 19-21. This article appeared originally in The Kiwanis Magazine of January 1941. In spite of a deep sense of pride in this project in the 1940s, a later generation did not continue the tradition of involving students in civic projects and in time the river, which gave the school its unique setting, was actually covered over in the interest of safety.
32. Al Church, “The Controversy of Mormons and Masons, Reflected in the Salt Lake City School System, as Recalled by M. Lynn Bennion, Lawrence Schroeder, R. Y. Gray, Paul B. Cannon [and] Newell Dayton,” Term Paper, University of Utah, 1973, 13-14.
[p.150]37. Conversation with Ann Curtis, 15 July 1991. Curtis attended school in Salt Lake during the war years; Fifty-second Annual Report, 1941-42, 15-17; “City School Board Okehs Care of Job Orphans,” Salt Lake Tribune, 14 Oct. 1942.
44. “School Board Policy Change to be Sought,” Salt Lake Telegram 8 Dec. 1938; “School Board Election Nonsectarian, Non Political,” Salt Lake Tribune, 7 Dec. 1938; “School Board Election,” Salt Lake Telegram, 9 Dec. 1938.
47. Proceedings of the One Hundred and Eleventh Semi-Annual Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, October 1940 (Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, [1941?]), 63.
[p.153]49. “Nineteen Aspire to S.L. School Board Posts,” Salt Lake Tribune, 1 Dec. 1940; “Voters Elect Seven to Membership on Salt Lake City School Board,” Salt Lake Tribune, 5 December 1940; Lindsay R. Curtis, Mother’s Footsteps (Salt Lake City: privately printed, 1962), 68; “’57 Mother of Year Succumbs,” Salt Lake Tribune, 22 July 1968.
51. Amy L. Engar reported that her grandfather, Apostle Richard R. Lyman, believed that the Salt Lake City board of education should be balanced between Mormons and non-Mormons to give “a fair shake for everybody” and that, in fact, the Church did not want to dominate the school board for fear of being blamed if things went wrong. Engar, Oral History, 30 Apr. 1992.
[p.154]54. Marian West Wilkinson, interview, 25 June 1992. This brief interview gave me a useful sense of Franklin West’s involvement in the released-time debate. A transcript of a taped interview dealing with the life of Franklin L. West by Roy West at the LDS Historical Department deals with the issue of released time, but I was not permitted to examine this document.
56. R. Y. Gray, Clerk, Letter to Members of the Board of Education, 19 Feb. 1942, in Salt Lake City Board of Education, Minutes, 10-24 Feb. 1942. No trace of the signed petition could be found but a copy of the wording dated 20 Feb. 1942 is in the files.
57. “Boards of Education Take on New Importance,” Salt Lake Tribune, 1 Dec. 1942. Historically, Tribune wafflings against “sectarian exclusiveness” and “denominational” advantage had been code words for “Mormon domination.” This occasion was probably no exception, but the rhetoric was muted compared, for example, to 1906, when the anti-Mormon American Party failed to gain control of the Salt Lake board. Then, the Tribune headline had trumpeted: “MORMON CHURCH CONTROLS SCHOOLS” (6-7 Dec. 1906), and the paper attributed the Mormon victory to gentile apathy, stuffing the ballot boxes, and intense Mormon efforts to “get out the vote.” The new board consisted, the Tribune reported, of one Mormon bishop, one bishop’s counselor, four Mormon elders, one jack Mormon, one Catholic, and two members of the American Party.
[p.155]58. All of the Mormons, with the exception of Merrill, had at least two years of service on the board, a total of twenty-seven years of service. Matheson had served continuously since 1933. The three Masons elected prior to 1943 totaled twenty years of service among them; Stockman had been first elected in 1931. In summary, 42 percent had been elected in the 1930s, 33 percent had won their seats in the previous election, and 25 percent were new.
59. Five of the petitioners were members of the Edgehill Ward of the Sugarhouse Stake. Ironically, the board of education was leasing Edgehill’s meetinghouse, along with two others, for $200 a month from the LDS church to alleviate overcrowded schools. School Board, Minutes, 10 Aug. 1943.
60. School Board, Minutes, 8 June 1943. Jensen told me that he circulated the petition in the Edgehill Ward, probably in his adult Sunday School class. Telephone interview with Perris S. Jensen, 30 Dec. 1991. In his reminiscences, William E. Berrett, later director of seminaries, claims that the school board first granted a 1942 petition but revoked it in 1943 when the non-Mormons gained a majority and passed a policy requiring students to have eighteen units to graduate. See his A Miracle of Weekday Religious Education (Salt Lake City: Salt Lake Printing Center, 1988), 29. My research does not corroborate Berrett’s claims; however, the school board did increase the graduation requirements during the mid-1940s, presumably after the 1943 election. This development would have seriously hampered released-time seminary attendance.
64. Board of Education, Minutes, 22 June 1943. These minutes are extremely terse and neutral, hence my reliance on the much more detailed newspaper accounts. For a more detailed account of this dispute see my “Masons and Mormons: Released-Time Politics in Salt Lake City, 1930-1956,” Journal of Mormon History 19 (Spring 1993): 67-114.
66. Plans for Administering Released Time for Religious Study in Salt Lake City Schools, copy in School District Files. This plan was transmitted to the board on 10 August and by 1 September, a form for parents to sign had been produced and apparently approved by the board. Board of Education, Minutes, 10 Aug. 1943.
70. Counts claimed that clergymen “were practically without representation” on national public school boards in the twentieth century, although in the nineteenth century they played a sometimes dominant role. He attributed this change to the church’s decline as a social institution or to the increasingly social heterogeneity of the population. The Social Composition of Boards of Education, 56-7.