Margaret Haley: Progressive Education and the Teacher

  • Kate Rousmaniere


This chapter is a study of the way in which Margaret Haley, the early-twentieth-century teacher union leader, saw herself as a progressive educator. My task is complicated by the fact that Haley never described herself as a “progressive educator” and that she often worked against what some historians have identified as progressive educational practices. Nor did she work in or with the wide community of educators who are commonly referred to as progressives. Indeed, as a teacher union leader concerned primarily with administrative change and teachers’ working conditions, Haley was not always in a position to promote child-centered classroom practices, alternative classroom structures, or other curricular innovations. In her 30-year career with the Chicago Teachers’ Federation, Haley was more apt to describe herself as a political activist than as a progressive educator. Yet, in fact, she saw herself as both. We too, can see her as both, but only if we understand the complexities of her role as a teacher union leader and her own identity as an Irish Catholic woman in early-twentieth century Chicago.


Academic Freedom Progressive Education Chicago School School Organization Public School Teacher 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 2.
    Studies of turn-of-the-century pedagogical progressives include Lawrence A. Cremin, The Transformation of the School: Progressivism in American Education, 1876–1957 (New York: Vintage, 1964);Google Scholar
  2. Patricia A. Graham, Progressive Education From Arcady to Academe: A History of the Progressive Education Association, 1919–1955, (New York: Teachers College Press, 1967); andGoogle Scholar
  3. Susan F. Semel and Alan R. Sadovnik, eds., “Schools of Tomorrow, Schools of Today: What Happened to Progressive Education?” (New York: Peter Lang, 1999). On administrative progressives, seeGoogle Scholar
  4. David B. Tyack, The One Best System: A History of American Urban Education (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1974).Google Scholar
  5. 3.
    John Dewey, The Educational Situation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1902), p. 23.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Robert Reid, ed., Battleground: The Autobiography of Margaret A. Haley (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982), pp. 11–12.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    Laura Doctor Thornburg and Christine A. Ogren, “Normal Schools,” in Historical Dictionary of American Education, ed. Richard Altenbaugh (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999), pp. 260–262;Google Scholar
  8. Jurgen Herbst, “Teacher Preparation in the Nineteenth Century: Institutions and Purposes,” in American Teachers: Histories of a Profession at Work, ed. Donald Warren (New York: MacMillian, 1989), pp. 224–226.Google Scholar
  9. 13.
    Herbart M. Kliebard, “Dewey and the Herbartians: The Genesis of a Theory of Curriculum,” in Forging the American Curriculum: Essays in Curriculum Theory and History (New York: Routledge, 1992).Google Scholar
  10. 16.
    David Hogan, Class and Reform: School and Society in Chicago, 1880–1930 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985), pp. 82–85;Google Scholar
  11. Robert Eugene Tostberg, “Educational Ferment in Chicago, 1883–1904,” (Ph.D. diss., University of Wisconsin, 1960), pp. 53–54.Google Scholar
  12. 20.
    J. M. Rice, The Public School System of the United States (New York: Arno Press, 1969 [originally published 1893]), pp. 166–183. SeeGoogle Scholar
  13. Kate Rousmaniere, “Sixteen Years in a Classroom,” in Silences and Images: The Social History of the Classroom eds. Ian Grosvenor, Martin Lawn, and Kate Rousmaniere (New York: Peter Lang, 1999), pp. 235–255.Google Scholar
  14. 21.
    Hannah Belle Clark, The Public Schools of Chicago: A Sociological Study (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), pp. 31–32, 77–78.Google Scholar
  15. 23.
    Mary J. Herrick, The Chicago Schools: A Social and Political History (Beverly Hills: Sage, 1971), pp. 72–73.Google Scholar
  16. 28.
    Carolyn Terry Bashaw, “Ella Flagg Young,” in Historical Dictionary of Women’s Education in the United States, ed. Linda Eisenmann, (Wesport Conn., Greewood Press, 1998), pp. 496–498.Google Scholar
  17. 35.
    Robert D. Cross, The Emergence of Liberal Catholicism in America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1958);Google Scholar
  18. Henry J. Browne, The Catholic Church and the Knights of Labor (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1949).Google Scholar
  19. 36.
    Thomas Edward Shields, Teachers Manual of Primary Methods (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic Education Press, 1912), p. 35;Google Scholar
  20. Justine Ward, Thomas Edward Shields: Biologist, Psychologist, Educator (New York: Scribners, 1947), pp. 125–214.Google Scholar
  21. 38.
    Wayne J. Urban, Why Teachers Organized (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1982), pp. 113–117; idem, Gender, Race and the National Education Association: Professionalism and its Limitations (New York: Routledge Falmer, 2000), pp. 14, 26;Google Scholar
  22. Marjorie Murphy, Blackboard Unions: The AFT and the NEA, 1900–1980 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990), pp. 72–79.Google Scholar
  23. 42.
    John Dewey, “Address,” Chicago Teachers’ Federation Bulletin 2 (26 February 1904): 1–3, 5–6.Google Scholar
  24. 44.
    J. H. Bowman, “Chicago Public Schools: what the Cleveland Educators Think of the Speer System” Union Labor Advocate 2, no. 8, (April 1902): 13.Google Scholar
  25. 54.
    Kate Rousmaniere, “White Silence: A Racial Biography of Margaret Haley,” in Equity and Excellence 34 (September 2001): 7–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 55.
    Julia Wrigley, Class Politics and Public Schools: Chicago 1900–1950 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1982); pp. 181–187;Google Scholar
  27. George Counts, School and Society in Chicago (New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1928), pp. 206–228.Google Scholar
  28. 56.
    Paula Baker, “The Domestication of Politics: Women and American Political Society, 1780–1920,” American Historical Review 89 (June 1984): 620–647;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Maureen A. Flanagan, “Gender and Urban Political Reform: The City Club and the Woman’s City Club of Chicago in the Progressive Era,” American Historical Review 95 (October 1990): 1032–1050.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 58.
    Gilbert H. Harrison, A Timeless Affair: The Life of Anita McCormick Blaine (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), pp. 84–102; Marie Kirchner Stone, “The Francis W. Parker School: Chicago’s Progressive Education Legacy,” in “Schools of Tomorrow,” eds. S. Semel and A. Sadovnik. pp. 23–66.Google Scholar
  31. 59.
    David R. Roediger, The Wages ofWhiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class (New York: Verso, 1991);Google Scholar
  32. Noel Ignatiev, How the Irish Became White (New York: Routledge, 1995);Google Scholar
  33. Ellen Skerrett, “The Development of Catholic Identity among Irish Americans in Chicago, 1880–1920,” in From Paddy to Studs: Irish American Communities in the Turn of the Century Era, 1880–1920, ed. Timothy J. Meagher (New York: Greenwood Press, 1986), pp. 117–138; andGoogle Scholar
  34. Ellen Skerrett, “The Irish in Chicago: The Catholic Dimension,” in Catholicism, Chicago Style, eds. Ellen Skerrett, Edward R. Kantowicz, and Steven M. Avella (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1993), pp. 29–62.Google Scholar
  35. 60.
    Alice Kessler-Harris, “Treating the Male as ‘Other’: Re-defining the Parameters of Labor History,” Labor History 34 (1993): 190–204;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Elizabeth Faue “Gender and the Reconstruction of Labor History, an Introduction,” Labor History 34 (1993): 169–177;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Dina M. Copelman, London’s Women Teachers: Gender, Class and Feminism, 1870–1930. London: Routledge, 1996).Google Scholar
  38. 67.
    Jane Addams, Twenty Years at Hull House (New York: Signet, 1981 [originally published 1910), p. 235.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Alan R. Sadovnik, Susan F. Semel 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kate Rousmaniere

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations