Ever since the introduction of the American History Plan the University has become gradually aware of President Conant's interest in American civilization and aware, too, that there exists such a civilization. The Reading List for both students and general public, the Bliss prize for undergraduates not in the American field, and last month the establishment of an Extra-curricular Counselor for Freshmen; these have nursed along the Plan to the point where Harvard men are self-conscious about American culture. Soon, one gathers from the restless anticipation of certain faculty members, the Plan will attack the Houses on a new front, when next fall a Counselor in each House will be on tap for students interested incidentally in what occupies their own backyard.
These seven Counselors will hold, apparently, one year appointments and are to perform no other teaching function than that of armchair pedagogues who sit and wait for pupils to ferret them out. From the lively group of Yardlings already on the trail of Americana under the direction of the Freshman pathfinder, and from the number who responded in one House to the experiment of an English tutor, there is certainly no lack of enthusiasm, which situation graces with practicality the scheme of House Counselors. Nevertheless, it seems plausible that the seven can be of greater service to the Plan by publicizing the when and where of their availability, by holding informal discussions in the common rooms, and by occasionally giving lectures, such as Professor Frankfurter's April talks on Justice Holmes. Easily and rightly they should do more than counsel.
In addition to their counseling, it is understood that the appointees will do research or write a long-planned masterpiece. But although this part of their function should be encouraged, at the same time it is clear that they are most useful to undergraduates, for whom they were appointed, when working for them. Likewise, if their success is great, the University ought not to overlook any chance of turning them into instructors or tutors. The latest proposed extension of the Plan cannot promise a more practical approach to the stimulation of interest in American history and literature unless the Counselors are as available as possible for the student purblind to his America.