Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search results

McSwain, E. T. (Eldridge Tracy), 1898-1978



  • Existence: 1898 - 1978

Eldridge Tracy McSwain was born on October 3, 1898 in Old Town, South Carolina the son of William A. and Carrie Lee McSwain. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Newberry College, Newberry, South Carolina in 1919. From Teachers College, Columbia University he received a Master of Arts in 1928, and a Doctor of Education in 1935. He was an administrator in elementary, junior high and high schools in North and South Carolina from 1919 to 1935. In the fall of 1935 he came to Northwestern as Assistant Professor of Education, eventually becoming the Dean of the School of Education.

McSwain's career at Northwestern was long and varied. He was promoted from Assistant to Associate Professor in 1937, and to Professor in 1944. He served as Dean of Summer Session at Northwestern in 1946 and again in 1949. McSwain was appointed Dean of University College (Chicago Campus) in 1948 and held that position until he became Dean of the School of Education in 1951. He resigned from the deanship to return to full-time teaching, research and writing in 1963. Two years later, in 1965, he accepted a visiting professorship in Education at the University of North Carolina and left Northwestern permanently. He married Mary Caughman on August 29, 1922. They had one child, Rachel Ann.

McSwain's special interests were elementary school curriculum and child development and later school administration and teacher education.

During his thirty years of association with the School of Education, McSwain received local and national recognition for his diverse activities in the field of education. His early interest in elementary school programs brought him to the presidency of the North Carolina Elementary Principals Association. In 1948 McSwain, as director of a three-year program in parent-teacher leadership, helped to make Northwestern a center of education in the field of home and school relation-ships. This was implemented by a $25,000 grant from the National Congress of Parents and Teachers. He was a member of key committees in such national organizations as the National Education Association, American Association of School Administrators, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, Phi Delta Kappa, and several others. In the local area he served on the Board of Directors of Cook County School of Nursing, was a member of the Education committee, Chicago office, of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, and the Commission on Human Relations of the City of Chicago. He was appointed to the (Chicago) Mayor's Commission on School Board Nominations in 1959, and elected a member of the Board of Education of Evanston Consolidated School District #65 in 1957. In addition to all of the above affiliations, he was a frequent speaker at many education association conventions and conferences throughout North America, and an educational consultant to many public and private school systems.

Several innovations were introduced and put into operation by McSwain and his faculty during his decade of administration in the School of Education:

1. The establishment of a Master of Arts degree in Teaching for the preparation of secondary school teachers, providing practical experience through teaching internships.

2. A four-quarter program designed for persons with a Bachelor's degree who want teacher certification and the Master of Arts degree without the internship.

3. An improved program in school administration for those who want to earn a PhD in this field.

4. A consultant service to schools and colleges in curriculum, locations of school sites and salary schedules.

5. Emphasis on resident teaching and professional writing among faculty members.

As a firm believer in professional writing, McSwain contributed chapters in various yearbooks of education societies and councils from 1937 to 1959. He was co-author of the following books:

Bibliography on Elementary Education and Related Fields, with Walter A. Anderson and Susan V. Brandon, 1941.

Understanding Arithmetic in the Elementary School, with Ralph J. Cooke, 1958.

Understanding Arithmetic 3-8, with Louis E. Ulrich and Ralph J.Cooke, 1959.

McSwain died November 27, 1978 in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Eldridge Tracy McSwain (1898-1978) Papers

Identifier: 14/10
Abstract Eldridge T. McSwain's career at Northwestern University (1935-1965) was long and varied. He served as Dean of Summer Session at Northwestern in 1946 and again in 1949. He was appointed Dean of University College (Chicago Campus) in 1948 and held that position until he became Dean of the School of Education in 1951. His papers consist of seven folders of material spanning the years 1940-1978.