Educ. in the colonial period of Am. was basically Christian. The major task of Christian educ. was assumed by the home, but schools were also agencies for religious educ. In New Eng., ch. and state combined to administer schools. Heterogeneous pop. in the middle colonies led to various kinds of schools, most of them under religious sponsorship. Angl. influence dominated educ. in S colonies. Religious influence continued till ca. 1750, when a more secular spirit reflected growing economic and pol. interests. Except for the Coll. and Academy of Philadelphia (1755; U. of Pennsylvania 1791), the 9 colleges and univs. founded before the Revolution were est. under ch. control: (1) Harvard coll. 1636; called U. at Cambridge in the 1780 Massachusetts const.; (2) Coll. of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1693; (3) Yale coll., New Haven, Connecticut, 1701; Yale U. 1887; (4) Coll. of New Jersey 1746; Princeton U. 1896; (5) King's coll., NYC, 1754; Columbia coll. 1784: Columbia U. 1912; (6) Rhode Island coll., Providence, 1764; Brown U. 1804; (7) Queen's coll., New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1766 (see also Reformed Churches, 4 b); Rutgers coll. 1825: Rutgers U. 1924; the state univ. of New Jersey 1945; (8) Dartmouth coll., Hanover, New Hampshire, 1770. See also Higher Education, 10; Ministry, Education of, VI A; Protestant Episcopal Church.
In a number of places a form of catechetical instruction was given by pastors to children on Sunday morning in early colonial times. Sunday* schools appeared beginning ca. 1786, mainly in the middle states; they were more closely assoc. with the ch. than those in Eng., which were part of a lay movement. As the pub. school system grew, gen. educ. came to be eliminated from the S. S. Public schools were at first strongly influenced by religious thought, later less so. Chs. were forced to depend increasingly on Sunday schools for religious educ. outside the home.
The First Day, or S. S. Soc. was organized 1790 Philadelphia. The Am. S. S. Union was formed 1824. First nat. conventions: 1832 NYC; 1833 Philadelphia, 1859 Philadelphia, 1869 Newark, New Jersey, 1872 Indianapolis, Indiana A Gen. Conv. was held 1862 London, England. The 1872 conv. resolved to invite Can. to full participation and approved a system of internat. lessons. Internat. convs. were held beginning 1875.
In course of time the scope of the S. S. came to include preschool children, young people, and adults.
By 1905, conv. meetings had lost all but nominal control over policy to a bd. of officials called (1905) Internat. S. S. Association. Reaction led 1910 to formation of the S. S. Council of Ev. Denominations. The Assoc. and the Council united 1922 to form the Internat. S. S. Council of Religious Educ. (changed name 1924 to The International* Council of Religious Educ.), which in November 1950 became the Division of Christian Educ. of the National Counil of Chs. of Christ in the USA In 1905 G. U. Wenner* proposed a plan for teaching religion in cooperation with pub. schools under a released time plan, which was inaugurated with modifications at Gary, Indiana, ca. 1913 and spread to other states. In 1948 the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mrs. Vashti McCollum of Champaign, Illinois, self-styled rationalist, and held that use by religious groups of the state's compulsory pub. school machinery is not separation of ch. and state; but in 1952 the Supreme Court pronounced religion classes outside school bldgs. on school time constitutional.
A. A. Brown, A History of Religious Education in Recent Times (New York, 1923); M. C. Brown, Sunday-School Movements in America (New York, 1901); E. M. Fergusson, Historic Chapters in Christian Education in America (New York, 1935); C. L. Hay, The Blind Spot in American Public Education (New York, 1950); J. M. Reu, Catechetics, 3d ed. (Chicago, 1931); E. H. Rian, Christianity and American Education (San Antonio, Texas, 1949); The Church and Christian Education, ed. P. H. Vieth (St. Louis, 1947).
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
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