Date of Award

Spring 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Kelly Woestman -

Second Advisor

Dr. Kris Lawson -

Third Advisor

Rebeca Book -


The years after World War II brought profound changes to American society. The expansion of government power, the influence of experts, and the demand to conform joined with technological innovations to revamp institutions throughout the United States. Public education underwent sweeping changes during this time. The revision of tax codes, curriculum initiatives, and improved transportation brought about the end of the one-room schoolhouse.

In Galena, Illinois, a small city in the state’s northwestern corner, the school system emerged from the war years in need of reform. Overcrowded schools and a skeletal and outdated curriculum brought calls from residents for improvement. Unfortunately, the district’s financial situation prevented immediate actions. Only after a series of state laws brought about the end of rural districts, was Galena able to seriously pursue change. This thesis argues that during the postwar era, state regulations, curriculum changes, and social issues such as an expanding population and a desire to keep up with neighboring communities fundamentally changed the public education system in Galena. It also examines the effect of those changes on the district in the years after enacting an infrastructure improvement plan.

The city of Galena continues to deal with the repercussions of postwar educational reforms. This research seeks to shed light on the impetus of those changes, providing guidance to current residents on how and why the district arrived at the current situation.



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