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Caraher History Before Libby

Caraher History Before Libby

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Published by billcaraher
This is a conference paper delivered at the 45th Annual Northern Great Plains History Conference. It argues that Horace B. Woodworth represents an important case study for understanding the development of history at the University and in the U.S.
This is a conference paper delivered at the 45th Annual Northern Great Plains History Conference. It argues that Horace B. Woodworth represents an important case study for understanding the development of history at the University and in the U.S.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: billcaraher on Oct 13, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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History Before Libby: The University Before DisciplinesWilliam R. Caraher, Department of History, University of North DakotaDelivered at the 45
Annual Northern Great Plains History ConferenceGrand Forks, North DakotaOctober 14, 2010Most scholars regard Orin G. Libby as the “Father of North Dakota History”, but he wasnot the first man to teach history at the University of North Dakota, nor was he the firstindividual to hold the position of Professor of History at UND. Horace B. Woodworth held bothof these honors. The former farmer from southern part of Dakota Territory taught history as wellas philosophy, math, and even astronomy at the University from his hiring in 1885 to hisretirement in 1904, and from 1902-1904 he held the rank of Professor of History. In contrast toLibby’ more recognizable list of professional credentials – including a prestigious advisor, aPh.D. and a dissertation of national significance – Woodworth held a more fluid and ambiguous position both at the university and in the discipline itself. Woodworth’s career path to his position of Professor of history, nevertheless, reveals important changes to both the disciplineand the institution at the turn of the century.In fact, Woodworth’s career occurred at the vital intersection of the history of theUniversity of North Dakota and the history of the disciple history in the United States.Woodworth’s migration from the Professor of Mathematics, Physics, and Astronomy toProfessor of Moral and Mental Science to the Professor of History at the University of NorthDakota occurred parallel to the emergence of a professional infrastructure of the discipline of history in US. Institutions such as, the American Historical Association, founded just a year after the University in 1884, sought to establish the integrity of the discipline by developing acoherent set of professional standards. This new Association and its founders, particularly HenryBaxter Adams, initiated a transformative period for the discipline in the United States. By theturn of the century the AHA has committed itself to taking the study of history from the domainof dedicated and erudite amateurs and to the work of a class of credentialed professionals.
Theone factor that has not necessary been fully appreciated is that the transition from amateur historians to professionalized discipline was not simple a tug-of-war between a factions withinthe AHA or between university faculty and scholars outside the ivory tower. In many cases, likeat the University of North Dakota, the transition from so-called amateur history to professional
history occurred within departments and even within the individual’s appointed to particular  positions. In this regard, Woodworth represents a kind of missing link between waning days of amateur history and the professionalization of the discipline which was marked locally by OrinG. Libby’s arrival on campus.My paper today will examine how Woodworth’s position within the university shiftedover the course of his career in response to the changing goals of the University changed and thediscipline of history across the North Great Plains.From an institutional standpoint, Woodworth’s career path was not terribly unusual for ana 19
c. academic. Born in 1830, he grew up farming in rural Vermont and graduated fromDartmouth in 1854 at the age of 24.
Upon graduation he continued to farm while serving as the principal of several New England boarding schools. By 1861, he had earned a degree HartfordTheological Seminary and preached in Connecticut and New Hampshire. Like many Dartmouth boys from farming backgrounds, Woodworth eventually left New England first to try his luck inthe west: first as the pastor in Congregational churches in Charles City and Decorah, Iowa for and then as a farmer near Mt. Vernon in what is now South Dakota in the early 1880s.
In 1885he was hired by the University of North Dakota, an institution that was scarcely a year old, asProfessor of Mathematics, Physics, and Astronomy perhaps owing to his acquaintance with amember of the University of North Dakota’s Board of Regents, F. R. Fulton, whom he had cometo know in Iowa.
 His appointment in this capacity may appear to be an odd beginning for a man whowould become the inaugural Professor of History at the University, but it reflects thetransformative era of higher education from which the University emerges. Woodworth washired by two of the founding fathers of UND, Henry Montgomery and Webster Merrifield, whohad emerged from the tumultuous first years of the University as responsible for both preparingthe curriculum and hiring sufficient faculty to teach it. Merrifield had graduated from YaleCollege in 1878 during Noah Porter’s term as College President and shared Porter’s strong ideasabout the maintenance of a conservative curriculum emphasizing Latin, Greek, and moraleducation.
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Merrifield’s background also fit well with both the Canadian educatedMontgomery and a faction of the Board of Regents. The Regents James Twamley, William T.
Collins, and Charles E. Teel, held degrees earned from east coast colleges around the midcentury.
 Merrifield and Montgomery were responsible for designing an ambitious and rather traditional curriculum and hiring faculty to teach it after the dismissal of UND’s first presidentWilliam Blackburn, who had advocated a more practical and popular curriculum for the school.This “first Merrifield faculty” included Horace B. Woodworth and men like John Macnie as theProfessor of English, French and German. Like Woodoworth, Macnie, also had strong“traditionalist” credentials with a B.A. from the University of Glasgow in Scotland and anhonorary M.A. from Yale in 1874.
Like Woodworth, he would be a fixture at the University for years to come.While it is clear that the pool of candidates willing to accept positions at the universitywas not particularly large, one candidate stands out and perhaps sheds light on the kind of menMerrifield and Montgomery sought for their new faculty.
Among Woodworth’s competitionfor a position at the University was Elwood Mead from Lafayette, Indiana who had applied to bea Professor of Mathematics or History. Mead’s training was a Bachelor of Science from PurdueUniversity and was hardly more suited to teaching history than Woodworth’s. Purdue, however,was an unapologetically practical university and it stood in contrast to Woodworth’s backgroundas a preacher and a teacher from Dartmouth College. Elwood Mead, of course, went on to serveas the head of the Bureau of Reclamation from 1924-1936 and eventually gave his name to LakeMead as a credit to his efforts to construct the Hoover Dam.Despite the interest of some qualified men and Woodworth’s and Macnie’s hiring, therewas clear concern regarding the absence of a historian on the University faculty. In the firstcatalogue of the University for 1884-1885, the Arts Course required history of Freshmen (Greeceand Rome), Second Years (European and English History), and Third Years (ConstitutionalHistory of England and the United States), and it was offered as an elective for Seniors.
From1885-1887, the handful of students sufficiently advanced to take these courses enjoyed theservices of John Macnie who taught Greek, Roman, and English History. Woodworth taughtsome history albeit entirely in the preparatory department which in the early years of theUniversity housed more students than the university department itself. Taking note of thissituation Montgomery and Merrifield were aware that the service of fulltime professor of historywas one of the principal needs of the young university. Montgomery opined in his second report

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