The rise of Catholic and evangelical Christian schools in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries

Philip Donald McLeod, Marquette University


This dissertation investigates the correlation between the rise of Catholic parochial schools in America during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries and the rise of evangelical Christian schools during the mid-twentieth century. Each of these movements exhibited significant growth in their formative years and this research identifies commonalities in social, religious and educational concerns which impacted this growth. First, questions as to the ways the theological and philosophical principles, educational theories, and educational practices of Catholics and evangelicals, separated by three-quarters of a century of significant cultural change, were similar or different is explored. Second, how did the dynamics of the American public school milieu affect the similarity or difference of the response of Catholics and evangelicals? The specific focus of this study is the impact of the 1884 Third Plenary Council of Baltimore on Catholic education and the National Association of Evangelicals' Committee on the Philosophy and Practice of Christian Education on evangelical Christian education. The study is historical and analyzes the findings of the councils and committees as they impacted philosophy and practice. The synodal legislation of the Catholic Council is compared to the suggestions of the evangelical committee. The degree of significance of these councils and committees is assessed and critiqued in the light of similarities, differences, and outcomes of their work. The study concludes that Catholics and evangelicals both determined that separate, private, religious schooling was the most desirable alternative to the public school system of their day. The form of the schools differed in that Catholics were parochial and evangelicals were parent-based, but the fundamental values which underpinned each group were essentially the same.

Recommended Citation

McLeod, Philip Donald, "The rise of Catholic and evangelical Christian schools in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries" (1993). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9411524.