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Centennial Celebration Update: NCTE’S Birthday Approaches

One hundred years of leadership in literacy education is the legacy of NCTE, founded in 1911 and now on track for a birthday bash at the 2011 Chicago Annual Convention.  Over the decades, NCTE has worked—through professional meetings, sponsored research, publications, and advocacy—to foster literacy education in America as well as public awareness of issues in literacy education. What better way to spread the word than through our 100-year celebration?

The group charged with the Centennial celebration, the Task Force on Council History and 2011, has been in place for four years. The following is a brief update of their activities:

Archival Research: A wealth of photographs, recordings, documents, publications, and other artifacts are housed both at the University of Illinois archives and at NCTE Headquarters. Documents of interest to scholars and other researchers are currently being posted to the NCTE website for research and study. 

Centennial Book: Under the editorship of Task Force member Erika Lindemann, final chapter drafts are being submitted and revised. The Centennial book will contain approximately one dozen essays on a wide range of literacy-related topics and will frame the issues from a historical perspective. The completed volume, with an informational appendix and timeline, will be available in 2010.

Centennial Video: Filming has begun, and a rough cut of the video is being edited. The final version will be a 15-20-minute video on NCTE and issues of literacy education in America. A preview will be available for member comment at the Annual Convention in Philadelphia in fall 2009.

Centennial Journal: A notebook with historical facts and timeline went on sale at the NCTE bookstore at the 2008 Annual Convention; it has been updated and will be on sale at the 2009 Annual Convention.

Centennial Activities for NCTE Affiliates: All affiliates have been invited to initiate a number of Centennial-related projects, notably the creation or updating of a local Literary Map; an Honor Roll of affiliate leaders; a list of Affiliate Milestones, and participation in the Then and Now project. Information on these activities is available on the website and from Standing Committee on Affiliates representatives.

Centennial Convention Activities: Sessions regarding NCTE history will be offered at the 2009 Annual Convention in Philadelphia, and the "Moment of History" given at the Board of Directors meeting will continue. More targeted activities are also being planned for upcoming conventions in Orlando (2010) and the Centennial Convention in Chicago (2011).

Website: The NCTE website features a Centennial section where all scholarly and other history-related material is housed. Members who have participated in the Then and Now essays have their work posted, and other Centennial material, such as the Affiliate Honor Roll and Affiliate Milestones, will also be on the website.

Journals and Other Publications:  A number of NCTE journals, notably College Composition and Communication and Teaching English in the Two-Year College, have begun to showcase historically-related articles; many other journals have been invited to follow suit. Since January 2008 the “Blast from the Past” feature has appeared in the weekly INBOX and highlights historical facts.

NCTE’s Centennial is a living celebration, a time not just to look back but also to take stock and look forward as we all work to shape literacy education in the present and future. For more information, to ask questions, or to share ideas, please contact the chair of the Task Force, Leila Christenbury.

Leila Christenbury, Chair, Task Force on Council History and 2011

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