W. W. Charters Institute Self-study records

RIT Archives

Table of Contents

Collection Overview
Biographical Information for W. W. Charters
Scope and Content
Additional Finding Aids
Subject Headings
Information for Researchers
Administrative Information
Related Materials

Collection Overview (Collapse)

W. W. Charters Institute Self-Study records
Inclusive Date(s)
Papers from W. W. Charter's consulting project at the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute (renamed the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1944). Charters was invited by the Institute in 1928 to help the college reshape itself for the future, with particular emphasis on educational objectives and curriculum development. The collection contains correspondence, meeting minutes, research materials, reports, and clippings.
3.0 Linear feet (6 document boxes)
C.S. North, Shelf 320
RIT Archive Collections
RIT Libraries
Wallace Center
90 Lomb Memorial Drive
Rochester, New York, 14623
(585) 475-2557

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Biographical Information for W. W. Charters (Collapse)

In 1922, John A. Randall was selected as the fourth president of the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute (RAMI). At the time, the school's future was uncertain. RAMI (renamed the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1944) had served an important role during the First World War, tailoring its programs to meet the needs of wartime production and training soldiers in trades and vocations essential to military success. Yet, at the start of Randall's presidency, it was unclear in which direction the school was headed.

In 1925, Randall invited Dexter S. Kimball, Frederick P. Keppel, and Channing R. Dooley to form a commission to study the future path of the Institute, including the possibility that the school might have no future at all. Although the commission determined that RAMI could serve an important role in the education community, it noted that important changes were needed, emphasizing the need for a clear educational policy.

Taking the recommendations of the commission, Randall approached Dr. Werrett Wallace (W.W.) Charters about serving as an educational consultant to RAMI. At the time, Charters (1875-1952) was working as the Director of the Bureau of Educational Research at The Ohio State University (OSU). He was known for his work in curriculum development, particularly his use of a scientific approach to develop programs focused on life activities and functions rather than subject material. Starting in 1928, Charters served as a continuing consultant to the Institute.

After an initial assessment of RAMI, Charters recommended that the school revise its entire curriculum. He explained that course content needed to be based on the job requirements of the positions that students were training for. A curriculum planning committee was to be formed and faculty members were to be trained on the "techniques of investigation" necessary to accomplish this undertaking. RAMI's Policy Committee accepted Charter's recommendation and work began September 1928.

The Curriculum Committee consisted of six individuals: Mark Ellingson (chairman), William N. Fenninger, Georgiana Hathaway, C. C. Thomason, Byron G. Culver, and F. H. Evans. The committee worked closely with a "curriculum expert" – in this case Charters – to oversee the entire process. Charters would visit the Institute every four or five weeks to check-in on the committee's progress. Additional "division" committees were formed, representing each department, with job analysis and subject matter subcommittees. Since Charters had worked as the director for the Research Bureau for Retail Training at the University of Pittsburgh, the retail distribution department was chosen as the first program for evaluation.

The revision process included nine steps:

  1. Study of objectives
  2. Plant and organization study
  3. Demand study
  4. Analysis of basic jobs
  5. Raw material - professional courses
  6. Raw material - related courses
  7. Raw materials - liberal courses
  8. Organization of content
  9. Specifications for teaching
The "study and objectives" phase consisted of developing objectives for the entire school, as well as individual programs. RAMI's educational objectives were finalized in 1931 and were revised in 1940. Once the objectives of an individual program were identified and the facilities for that program were assessed, a demand study was conducted. The committee surveyed graduates of the program, asking for their current job requirements, salary figures, and future prospects. Additionally, programs were considered in a national context to determine if a field afforded more opportunities outside of the Rochester area. This information was used to devise "job charts" that served as the basis for revision in each area. When Randall left the Institute in 1936, Mark Ellingson was appointed president of RAMI. He was able to continue this prescribed program of self-study, having served as the chairman of the Curriculum Committee. Charters also continued to serve as a consultant to the school until his death in 1952. He was assisted by Dr. Ralph Tyler, an OSU colleague who joined the RAMI self-study team around 1930.

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Scope and Content (Collapse)

Spanning some fifty years, the W.W. Charters Institute Self-study materials contain correspondence, meeting minutes, research materials, reports, department promotional materials, and clippings. The collection gives a broad history of curriculum and curriculum assessment at RIT.

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Arrangement (Collapse)

The collection is arranged by series, with materials organized chronologically within each series.

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Additional Finding Aids (Collapse)

In addition to this finding aid, an inventory is available below. For more information, please contact the RIT Archive Collections.

W. W. Charters Institute Self-study records

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Subject Headings (Collapse)

Personal Name(s)

  • Charters, W. W., (Werrett Wallace), 1875-1952
  • Ellingson, Mark, 1904-1993
  • Randall, John A., (John Arthur), b. 1881

Corporate Name(s)

  • Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute -- Curricula.
  • Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute -- Evaluation.
  • Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute. Curriculum Committee.
  • Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute. Educational Research Committee.
  • Rochester Institute of Technology -- Curricula.
  • Rochester Institute of Technology -- Evaluation.
  • Rochester Institute of Technology. Educational Research Committee.


  • Curriculum change -- New York (State) -- Rochester
  • Curriculum planning -- New York (State) -- Rochester


  • Correspondence
  • Curricula
  • Minutes
  • Reports
  • Research notes

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Information for Researchers (Collapse)

Preferred Citation

W. W. Charters Institute Self-Study records, RIT Archive Collections

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open to researchers.

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Administrative Information (Collapse)

Collection ID


Processing Information

Finding aid created by Lara Nicosia in February 2011.

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Related Materials (Collapse)

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