Schools & CollegesSchools_%26_Colleges.html

Establishment of the department. — The Smith-Hughes law, enacted in 1917, provided each state with funds for the promotion of vocational education and placed on the state the responsibility for spending a certain amount on the training of teachers. In Michigan this responsibility was divided between Michigan State College, Michigan State Normal College in Ypsilanti, and the University of Michigan. The University was assigned the training of teachers for the division of trade and industrial education.

Allen S. Whitney, then head of the Department of Education, secured the appointment in 1917 of George Edmund Myers (Ottawa University [Kansas] ‘96, Ph.D. Clark ‘06) as the first Professor of Industrial Education. Professor Myers had been principal of the Technical High School, Washington, D. C., and superintendent of continuation classes in New York City. He was convinced that industrial teachers should have had industrial experience, and because many of those who had had such experience, could not qualify for college entrance, it was necessary to offer training courses in the principal cities of the state at times when craftsmen still employed in industry or recently transferred to teaching positions in the schools could attend. In 1918 he began an evening course in the Cass Technical High School, Detroit. The following year similar courses were offered both in Detroit and in Grand Rapids. In the years that followed the extension work accomplished by the department was more extensive than that done on the campus.

Eli Lewis Hayes (‘06e), then head of a department in Cass Technical High School, Detroit, and later principal of the Boys Vocational School of that city, became a part-time member of the staff in 1918-19 and served the department until his retirement in 1940. Hayes gave one or two courses in Detroit each semester, usually dealing with methods of teaching industrial subjects, though work for foremen in industrial plants was included during the earlier years.

In 1919 Miss Cleo Murtland (Teachers College [Columbia] ‘17, M.A. Columbia ‘19) became a full-time member of the department with the rank of Associate Professor. She came to the University from the principalship of the Philadelphia Trade School for Girls to give a course in Detroit for teachers of trades which were open to women and girls and to make a study of the need for more of such work in Detroit. She was placed in charge of an office at Cass Technical High School. This office, maintained through the generosity of the Detroit Board of Education, served as the center of the department’s activities in the area until the Rackham Center was opened.

Thomas Diamond (‘25, A.M. ‘28) also came to the department in 1919 from the University of Wisconsin, with the rank of Assistant Professor. He had previously been a teacher in the Technical High School of Milwaukee and foreman of the pattern shop of the famous Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company’s plant at West Allis, Wisconsin. Professor Diamond organized foreman training work throughout the state, placing special emphasis on the foreman’s duties as a teacher of new workers. He was promoted to a full professorship in 1940.

Marshall L. Byrn (Michigan State Normal ‘23, A.M. Michigan ‘26), who had come to the University in 1924, was promoted in 1927 to be Assistant Professor of Vocational Education and head of the Department of Industrial Arts in the University High School and gave special courses in industrial arts education. John M. Trytten, who in 1930 was appointed Instructor in Commercial Education, had charge of the program for the training of business teachers in the University and of typing instruction in the high school. He became Acting Principal in 1938 and Principal in 1939. Neither Byrn nor Trytten were able to devote all of their time to this work, since their main responsibilities were with the work of teaching in the University High School.

Program of studies. — From two courses, one dealing with the principles of vocational education and the other with methods of teaching industrial subjects, the work of the department expanded rapidly. After World War I a course was given dealing with the work of the industrial foreman, especially with his teaching responsibilities. With the development of part-time education for workers under seventeen years of age, required by state law after September 1, 1920, special courses for teachers in this field were offered both on the campus and in most of the important cities of the state. A course in vocational guidance was begun in 1920. To take care of a growing demand for industrial teachers a correspondence course without University credit was offered in 1922. Later, three additional courses were added. A course in Technique of Selling and another in Merchandise Information were provided (1924-28) for senior women who wished to prepare for educational work in department stores, and two courses for commercial teachers were offered in the summer of 1926. In 1931 provision was made for this work during the academic year. Similar work has since been offered regularly, both in summer sessions and during the academic year. Methods and directed teaching courses in industrial arts were begun in 1929-30. These courses and courses for commercial teachers have been financed from the School of Education budget and not from Smith-Hughes funds.

Graduate work. — A seminar in vocational education and guidance, organized in 1923, and special problems courses were taken almost entirely by graduates. These included an honors reading course in current problems and special seminars. A sequence of courses leading to the master’s degree with a major in vocational education or vocational guidance was offered. The sequence in vocational education has permitted the student to stress industrial education, industrial arts education, or commercial education. In 1935-36 seventeen students completed the requirements for the master’s degree with a major in vocational education or vocational guidance.

By 1937 three men had been granted the degree of doctor of philosophy in education with vocational education as their special field: Walter L. Harris, F. X. Lake, and Francis W. Dalton.

Departmental publications. — From December, 1922, to June, 1938, the department published the Michigan Vocational News Bulletin, an eight-page publication appearing five times a year and distributed free to those interested in vocational education. Its purpose was to promote vocational education in Michigan and to inform superintendents, principals, and other school administrative officers and vocational teachers of developments in this field. The department also published The Problem of Vocational Guidance by George E. Myers and Planning Your Future by George E. Myers, Gladys M. Little, and Sarah A. Robinson. Professor Murtland assisted in preparing the vocational guidance volume of the White House Conference Report on Child Health and Protection and helped to prepare a volume on Occupations in Retail Stores based on a nationwide survey of retail selling. Since 1923 a series of special bulletins has also been published.

Special activities. — Because of the nature of the work for which the department is responsible, activities have been necessary that are foreign to the work of most departments of a university. Members of the staff have assisted city school authorities in determining the types of vocational education programs best suited to the needs of their respective communities. Vocational education surveys have been made in nearly all the principal cities of the state.

At the suggestion of the state supervisor of industrial education Professor Diamond gave a course (1923-36) at Western State Teachers College, Kalamazoo, for students preparing to teach industrial arts. In the summer of 1934 Professor Diamond engaged in similar work at the Northern State Teachers College, Marquette, Michigan. This work was without expense to the teachers colleges concerned.

Conferences have been held by members of the staff with groups of teachers in different parts of the state. Weekly conferences with individual teachers throughout a semester or a year have been numerous and have dealt with courses in refrigeration, the machinist’s trade, the malleable iron industry, and trade dressmaking. For two years (1934-36) Frank Dalton conducted conferences with store employees weekly in Lansing and biweekly in Sparta, concerning problems of selling and store management. A program of training for officers of city fire departments, begun in Detroit in January, 1935, has since been extended to other cities of the state.

Members of the Department of Vocational Education have been called upon for consultation concerning the educational activities of the State Vocational School at Lansing, the State Reformatory at Ionia, the Michigan Home and Training School at Lapeer, the Wayne County Home and Training School at Northville, and the Civilian Conservation Corps throughout the state.

Recent limitations on the department. — By action of the State Board for Vocational Education, in September, 1936, in accordance with a report submitted by the United States Office of Education, the work of the department was placed more directly under the State Director of Vocational Education and was narrowed in character. Attendance in the classes taught by members of the staff, whose salaries are paid from Smith-Hughes funds, was limited to prospective Smith-Hughes teachers and those preparing for Smith-Hughes work. One exception to this is a promotional course, Principles of Vocational Education, which may be taken by school administrators and teachers with experience in general education.

The policy followed by the department from 1917 to 1936 was to offer courses suited to the needs of industrial teachers and to admit anyone who was interested. Under the new regulations almost all the work of the department is supported by Smith-Hughes funds, except that of the summer session, which became extramural in character. The number taking campus and regular extension courses of the department was reduced.

George E. Myers

The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor, Volume II, Part VI, pp. 1095-1097.

History of the University of Michigan

Department of Vocational Education