Tomorrow is my last day at The OSU Archives, and I know that I’ve saved the best for last – or rather, the way in which Sidney Pressey’s papers are arranged, I will finally get to all the correspondence surrounding his attempts in the 1930s to commercialize his teaching machines.

I think that’s the angle I want to go with for my chapter on him. But as I read around that episode, there’s so much more to consider.

I just want to jot down some of the thoughts from the day, as I read through Boxes 2, 3, and 4 of his papers:

  • The bulk of communications between scholars in the mid- to late- 1900s involved sending one another reprints of journal articles. I’d like to think that library collections – and digital copies have ameliorated some of this. But I wonder how much of scholarly communication to this day is also “here is a PDF of what I wrote”

  • What records are there now of scholars sharing their PDFs with one another – giving personal feedback (not just published feedback)?

  • Who does Pressey have “beef” with (and why)? I don’t just mean academic or philosophical differences – I mean beef.

  • What struck me reading through Pressey’s correspondence today – correspondence from the late 1960s and very much addressing “the state of higher education” – was how very little was said about student protests. And it made me think about how decontextualized so much of this research and scholarship was – not just in the 1960s, but throughout.

  • It is quite sad to see someone age through their papers and production, but Pressey was active until very very late in life. May we all be as fortunate.

  • Where are Norman Crowder’s papers? Why has no one written about his work?!

Audrey Watters


Teaching Machines

A Hack Education Project

Back to Archives