The collection consists of three boxes of correspondence and printed material primarily relating to Melby's administration as Dean of Northwestern's School of Education between 1934 and 1941. It focuses on his professional activities as a leader in the Progressive Education Association and on the School's relationship to the University's central administration as well as its experimental pedagogical programs. Box 1 contains individual correspondence arranged in alphabetical order and drafts of Melby's speeches and reports. Boxes 2 and 3 contain alphabetically arranged subject folders relating to the School of Education's activities and Melby's affiliation with the Progressive Education Association.
Most of the correspondence in Box 1 relates to such problems in the School of Education as faculty recruitment, and budgetary conflicts with the central administration over the expansion of the Summer Session and the School's experimental programs in the Chicago metropolitan area.
Of particular importance is the correspondence with Franklyn Snyder, George Axtelle, and William Kilpatrick. In addition, Box 1 contains a biographical folder and a collection of reports and speeches (1935-1941) including analyses of the School's program, local educational conference notices, minutes of meetings of the Executive Committee of the American Council on Education, reports to the University President, a Faculty Council Report, and copies of the following speeches made by Melby:
“A Creative Secondary School: Can it be Developed?”
“Building a Philosophy of Education”
“Commercial Education in Relation to Personality Growth and Social Progress,”
“Creative Human Relations”
“Democracy vs. Authoritarianism”
“Elementary Education in 1939”
“Faith in Children”
“Impressions of European Education”
“In God We Trust”
“Selection of Teachers”
“The American Way of Life”
“The Elementary School of Tomorrow”
“The Role of the Alumni in University Administration”
The remainder of the collection focuses on the School's various programs. Of particular interest and value are the folders on salaries, which provides complete individual schedules for the Melby administration; the School's Student Council, which petitioned in 1938 to place a representative in faculty meetings; course offerings, which includes syllabi and a detailed evaluation report; statistics, with a complete report on course enrollment; the Experimental School; the Internship program; and the Kellogg Foundation, which details the deteriorating financial arrangements regarding the School's experimental work. Less revealing are the materials on the Progressive Education Association, which includes very little theoretical literature, but rather, outlines Melby's administrative work in organizing conferences and workshops in northern Illinois, and the World War II materials, which routinely detail the School's wartime activities.