Deborah Meier, a leader in education reform and the founder of the modern small schools movement in America, paid a welcome visit to the Lilly Library on Thursday, November 12. Meier, who was visiting Bloomington for an education seminar, is nationally known for her work in the innovative Central Park East schools in New York, which she founded in 1974. Meier’s efforts were recognized in 1987, when she became the first public school teacher to receive a MacArthur Fellowship. She chronicled her experiences at Central Park East in The Power of Their Ideas (1995), which has become an influential work in the field of education.
Indiana University announced in November 2008 that Deborah Meier had donated her papers to the Lilly Library, and work on them began in June of this year. The papers include correspondence, writings and speeches by Meier, and materials related to Meier’s work with the Central Park East schools, the Mission Hill school in Boston, and school restructuring projects in New York City, among other things.
The Lilly Library has created a two–year, grant–funded position devoted to the arrangement, description, and digitization of this collection. Currently, the papers are in the process of being arranged and a finding aid is being created. Once the finding aid is complete, portions of the collection will be scanned and made available online, giving researchers all over the world access to this unique documentation of the beginnings of the small schools movement.
Meier and Steve Bonchek of the Harmony Education Center, a Bloomington school and education institute which assisted in procuring the funding needed to make this collection available, hope that the Meier papers will serve as the cornerstone of an ongoing effort to document schools. The Lilly Library is grateful to the Peck Stacpoole Foundation of New York, and to the Office of the Provost of IU Bloomington, for providing the financial support for this project.
–Valerie Higgins, Meier Papers Project Archivist
Accompanying picture, from left to right: Gerardo Gonzalez, Dean of the IU School of Education; Valerie Higgins, Meier Papers Project Archivist; Deborah Meier; John Ryan, IU President Emeritus; Steve Bonchek, Harmony Education Center Executive Director. Click here to see a larger image.