"We are, as a nation, lamentably ignorant of our own history," Howard M. Jones, Professor of English, and Chairman of the American History Committee said last night as he launched the Freshman program of extra-curricular study of American History with a short talk in the Union.
"It is to change this situation that the extra-curricular readings have been established. With steady rise of Fascism in the last for or five years, we can no longer take democracy for granted," he continued.
Required Course Undesirable
In explaining why a required course in American history was not desirable, Jones branded the suggestion as an "indocrination worthy of Hitler." In place of that, he outlined the democratic experiment of interesting as many students as possible in a program of readings to make the pupils realize the cost and hardships that went into the building of our democratic country.
Three Separate Examinations
To allow everyone to participate in the program, the reading list has been divided into three parts preparing for three separate examinations. Part One, already, in operation, is open to any Harvard undergraduate who has not had or is not taking a course in the history or literature of America. Eligibility for Part Two, which is to go into effect next November, is limited to those who have not had more than a course and a half. And Part Three is to be a "free for all."
Standard examinations will be held for Part One, but in Part Two the candidates will write for three hours on their own subjects. The students will merely be expected to show a thorough knowledge of the books they have read. Basis of marking will be suitability of the topics, soundness of the knowledge, and quality of the writing.
Besides informal discussions, the continuance of the formal lectures inaugurated last term by Bernard De Voto's talks on the American historical novel was announced.