Roots of the Culture Wars: Protestant Fundamentalists and American Education in the 1920s
Adam Laats

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



Binghamton University

Primary Discipline

During the 1920s, Protestant fundamentalists throughout the United States campaigned to ban the teaching of evolutionary theory from public and private schools. But they also did much more. Many fundamentalists promoted laws requiring daily Bible reading in public schools. These same fundamentalists also founded a network of schools and colleges dedicated to passing on their conservative theology and lifestyle. During these heated controversies, fundamentalists struggled to project an image of their movement as one dedicated to defending science and progressive values, in spite of fundamentalism’s growing reputation as a backward, isolated rural movement. I propose to expand and revise my dissertation research in this area into a book manuscript.Some of the key players and events, such as William Jennings Bryan and the famous Scopes “Monkey” Trial, have been thoroughly studied by historians. Others, such as the expansion of a network of independent fundamentalist schools, have received very little scholarly attention. This project uses archival material and 1920s-era publications to increase and synthesize our understanding of these formative educational battles. The activism and controversies of the 1920s determined the positions of educational conflicts throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. My book will illuminate these educational crusades.
About Adam Laats

Pin It on Pinterest