Communications Project

Document Type:Dissertation
Name:Trina A. Stephens
Title:Twice Forty Years Of Learning: An Educational Biography of Robert Reid Howison (1820-1906)
Degree:Doctor of Philosophy
Committee Chair: Harold Stubblefield
Committee Members:Sid A'Hearn
Marcie Boucouvalas
Hadly DePuy
Bert Wiswell
Keywords:education, history
Date of defense:June 18, 1998
Availability:Release the entire work for Virginia Tech access only.
After one year release worldwide only with written permission of the student and the advisory committee chair.


The two primary purposes of this study were to develop an educational biography on the life of Robert Reid Howison, a nineteenth-century Virginia lawyer, minister, historian, and author, and to examine Howison's efforts as an educator. Chapter One presents an approach to the study, guiding questions, and the research methodology of educational biography. Chapter Two examines Howison's learning experiences during his childhood and youth, from his birth in 1820 to 1841. These learning experiences were primarily connected with institutions of education, such as family, school, church, work, as well as his self-initiated learning and membership in a learning society. Chapter Two analyzes Howison's learning experiences during his prime adult years, 1841-1870, and discusses how, as an adult, family became less of an institution influencing his learning and became more of an opportunity to educate others. His self-initiated learning, coupled with institutions of education in the community, became more prominent during these years. His first book, A History of Virginia From Its Discovery and Settlement, revealed Howison both as a learner and educator as he conducted the necessary research for the book with the intent to teach the history of Virginia to the young men of the day. He also contributed other scholarship efforts such as writing a complete history of the Civil War. Chapter Four details Howison's later years, from 1870 to his death in 1906. During this time he authored two additional major works, God and Creation and A Students' History of the United States. Many of Howison's shorter works written during these years, such as newspaper and periodical articles, reveal his philosophy of education. Howison was also a lecturer on American History at Fredericksburg College, an event combining his work as an educator with his lifelong interest in reading and writing history. Chapter Five presents conclusions and recommendations to the study, particularly concerning the research methodology of educational biography as applied to the life of Robert Howison. His detailed description of his lifelong learning experiences, as described in his unpublished autobiography Twice Forty Years of American Life, were useful in establishing the significant learning experiences throughout his life as well as documenting the outcomes or results of his learning.

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