Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Meier mss., 1927-2010, consists of the correspondence and papers of education reformer Deborah W. Meier (1931-), who is frequently credited with founding the modern small schools movement in the United States.

Deborah Meier was born on April 6, 1931 in New York City and received a master's degree in history from the University of Chicago in 1955. She began her career in education in 1963 as a kindergarten teacher in Chicago. In 1966, she returned to New York City, where she taught at PS 144 and was involved in open-corridor class experiments. In 1974, Meier started Central Park East, which was later expanded into three schools: Central Park East I, Central Park East II, and River East. In 1985, Meier and the Central Park East staff again expanded the school, this time adding Central Park East Secondary School for students in 7th through 12th grade. Her work at Central Park East brought her recognition in the form of a MacArthur fellowship, which she received in 1987. From 1992 to 1996, Meier also served as co-director of the Coalition Campus Schools Project, an initiative to restructure large, failing high schools into multiple smaller schools. In 1997, Meier left New York City to found Mission Hill, a pilot elementary school in Boston, where she served as principal until 2005. Meier has written numerous articles and several books on education, including The Power of Their Ideas: Lessons for America from a Small School in Harlem. She has received much recognition for her work, including honorary degrees from Harvard, Yale, Brown, and other universities.

The collection is organized into the following series: I. Biographical; II. Education; III. Correspondence; IV. Writings and speeches; V. Writings by others; VI. Professional activities; VII. Honors and awards; VIII. Politics; IX. Recordings and multimedia; X. Additions.

Materials in the collection include schoolwork and childhood writings by Meier; personal, political, and professional correspondence; drafts and final copies of many of Meier's writings; writings by others on Meier and her projects; notes for speeches; documents on the organization of the Central Park East schools, Mission Hill school, the Coalition Campus Schools Project, and other educational initiatives; school newsletters and mailings to parents; student work and recorded performances; student assessments; conference materials; honors and awards; and video and audio recordings of Meier interviews and speeches.

An inventory and finding aid are available.

Acquired: 2009, 2010, 2014

Collection size: 7,650 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.