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Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Center for Dewey Studies | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

Name: Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Center for Dewey Studies

Historical Note:

The Center of Dewey Studies at Southern Illinois University Carbondale undertakes research and publishing projects that focus on the life and work of American philosopher John Dewey.  Influenced by increased interest scholarly interest in American philosophy, it was established in 1961 as the Cooperative Research on Dewey Publications.  The Center initially only had 3 staff members: Professor George E. Axtelle, Professor Jo Ann Boydston, and a student worker, but it had the support of SIU President Delyte W. Morris and SIU Press Director Vernon Sternberg.    Boydston became the Director in 1966 after Axtelle left the project.

The Center’s initial project was to publish a collected uniform edition of John Dewey’s scholarship.  By 1961, accessing the works of John Dewey presented several challenges: few of his major works were in print; they were scattered among numerous (some obscure) journals and pamphlets, or as reviews, letters to the editor, encyclopedia entries, and unpublished lectures; they were published in several languages including French, Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese; and the original English versions had been lost.  The Center actively collected the writings of John Dewey and completed the 37 volume critical edition Collected Works of John Dewey in 1991, published by the SIU Press.

Dr. Jo Ann Boydston retired in in 1993 and Dr. Larry Hickman became Director the same year.  Hickman led the Center’s second major documentary editing project that resulted in the publication of the Correspondence of John Dewey in 4 electronic volumes between 2001 and 2008.  In partnership with Michigan State University Professor Emeritus Donald F. Koch, the Center began its next project to publish Dewey’s class lecture notes in electronic format in 2007.  This was published in 2010 as Dewey: Lectures. The Class Lectures of John Dewey: Volume I: Political Philosophy, Logic, EthicsIn addition to primary sources the Center accumulated, it also houses a unique and exclusive collection of secondary sources in the Works About Dewey collection, numbering over 10,000 individual items.

Throughout its history, the Center for Dewey Studies has been organized as a unit within Morris Library or the College of Liberal Arts.  Dr. Larry Hickman retired at the end of 2015 and the Center operated without a permanent director.  Professor Thomas Alexander then served as temporary director.  However, the Illinois budget impasse that began in 2015 inflicted severe financial hardship on Southern Illinois University Carbondale and the Center.  Budget cuts and a hiring freeze resulted in the indefinite closure of the Center as of January 2017.

Sources: "History of the Center," Center for Dewey Studies,, accessed February 15, 2017.
Note Author: Matt Gorzalski

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