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Manuscript Collection 088: Pennsylvania Council for the Social Studies (PCSS) Records

Identifier: MG088


  • Majority of material found within 1952 - 2019


28 boxes Linear Feet (“The Pennsylvania Council for the Social Studies (PCSS) Collection is dedicated to Jean S. West (September 19, 1930-March 6, 2010), wife of Leo R. West – one of the most active and devoted PCSS leaders and past presidents. As we remember Jean, so we honor all PCSS spouses who, as Jean did so well, inspire and support all who sustain and advance Social Studies in Pennsylvania,” Dr. John W. Larner, Jr. (2014). The mission of the Pennsylvania Council for the Social Studies (PCSS) is to promote quality Social Studies education from kindergarten to higher learning by: advocating the Social Studies at all levels of education in Pennsylvania; promoting the analysis, dissemination and evaluation of Social Studies materials; examining and recommending certification requirements for teachers; assisting educators in organizing local Social Studies councils for professional development; and cooperating with schools, districts, intermediate units and other interested parties on Social Studies projects. Prior to the founding of the Pennsylvania Council for the Social Studies (PCSS), the professional interests of social studies teachers in the state were handled at local levels by city, district, and county organizations. At state level there existed the Social Studies Round Table, which convened an annual meeting every December. Development of a statewide council in Pennsylvania was ignored until 1948. At that time the Pennsylvania Department of Public Instruction appointed R.W. Cordier, of Indiana County, to chair the Secondary Social Studies Curriculum Committee. One action of this committee was to propose a state council to deal with matters concerning the teaching of social studies within the state school system. The proposal was submitted to the Round Table at their 1950 meeting, where it was approved to study the feasibility of such an organization. At the Round Table gathering one year later, a resolution to establish an "organizing committee to implement a Pennsylvania Council," to be "affiliated with the National Council for the Social Studies" was unanimously adopted. A tentative constitution was drawn in 1952 and tendered to a review committee. Notice of the plan to organize a state council was disseminated through local councils and NCSS publications. During the 1952 Round Table meeting, the formal organization of the Pennsylvania Council for the Social Studies took place with the adoption of the constitution and election of officers. R.W. Cordier became the first president; 35 persons present paid $1.00 to become charter members. The first meeting of the PCSS was held April 11, 1953, in Harrisburg and was attended by one hundred and thirty-five teachers, one hundred and twenty of whom joined the nascent Council. It was decided at this assembly to publish a Council newsletter; the first issue of "New and Views" was printed in October of that year. At the second annual meeting, called April 24, 1954, in Bedford, Pennsylvania, four working committees: Editorial, Projects, Program, and Membership were constituted. These original committees would be followed later by many others as PCSS expanded both its membership and its role in keeping social studies current in Pennsylvania. The PCSS body increased to almost three hundred in 1955 and, in 1956, local councils were encouraged in areas without such and to become affiliated with the state Council. From 1958 to 1962, much was done by PCSS to examine social studies curriculum throughout the state with the objective of standardization. Towards this goal, a Curriculum Committee was appointed in 1959. One accomplishment was the incorporation, during the 1960-1961 school year, of "World Cultures," a course mandated by the Pennsylvania State Council on Education. Similar additions to curriculums would be achieved by the PCSS. PCSS continues to expand its membership and role within the scholastic community. The Council continues to evaluate social studies curriculum and propose changes or additions to school programs. Teacher certification is also in the purview. The annual meetings are now conventions, where not only business is conducted, but where classes on current trends, skills and subjects of interest are presented to those attending. An important adjunct to these sessions are the books, videos and teaching aides on display during the conferences. The marked increase in professionalism within the ranks of social studies is a direct attribute of PCSS. The archives of Pennsylvania Council for the Social Studies (PCSS) span from 1952-1953 to the present. The Council is still in operation and new material will be added to these archives as acquired. The collection includes the PCSS newsletter News and Views, journal publications including Social Studies Journal and the Keystone, annual conference programs, conference correspondence, newspaper articles, session evaluation forms and photographs from conferences and events. These records contain early histories of PCSS, executive and various other committee meeting agendas and minutes, studies on school curriculums, proposals for social studies teachers certification, and letters exchanged amongst Council members and with other related organizations, such as the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS). The records cover 1953-1974 with 1972-1973 missing. Files from 1975-1995 were donated by PCSS members John W. Larner, Jr., Jacob L. Susskind, and Leo R. West from their personal files. Both have served in various functions in both PCSS and their local councils, notably with Jack Susskind serving as PCSS President from 1983-1984 and Leo West acting as editor of News and Views from the late Seventies to the present. Files from Jacob Susskind include those from his affiliation with the Capital Area Council on the Social Studies (CACSS), encompassing the Harrisburg area, including meeting minutes and the council newsletter. Other files from him include the Social Studies Journal from 1972-1995 and files pertaining to Social Studies curriculum. West's files include copies of the PCSS constitution and by-laws and reports from him as editor of PCSS News and Views newsletter. Series Descriptions: Series I PCSS Records; Series II Acquisitions donated by Jacob Susskind; Series III Acquisitions donated by Leo West; Series IV Acquisitions donated by Dr. John W. Larner, Jr. (see Manuscript Group 146); Series V Acquisitions donated by Stephen Bullick; Series VI Acquisitions donated by Dr. Sharon Franklin-Rahkonen; Series VII Acquisitions donated by Joseph Labant, PCSS President, 2010-2013; Series VIII PCSS Electronic Records available on PCSS website (; and Series IX Filing Cabinet Storage (1 item) donated by David Keller Trevaskis. For more information, visit the PCSS website,

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Manuscript Collection 088: Pennsylvania Council for the Social Studies (PCSS) Records
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Repository Details

Part of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Repository

Indiana Pennsylvania