Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational Policy Studies and Eval

First Advisor

Dr. John Thelin


This study expands the scope of institution-level research on college and university-run laboratory schools to include the University of Kentucky’s on-campus laboratory school that operated from 1918 to 1965. Specifically, it preserves the institutional history of UK’s laboratory school, which has largely disappeared from local memory; provides a specific case study of a laboratory school in a largely unstudied state and region, namely Kentucky and the South; and contextualizes the role and trajectory UK’s laboratory school played in the larger Laboratory School Movement of the 20th century. Because of UK’s status as a southern land grant university, this research examines claims that education in the South lagged behind the rest of the nation and considers what implications the University School’s history may have on modern educational policy.

Historical context limits this research in three important ways: (1) references to the word “progressive” are specific to the pedagogical philosophies and methods affecting schools during the Progressive Education Movement from 1893 to 1957, not the larger political activism and reforms affecting all Americans during the Progressive Era from the 1890s to the 1920s; (2) statistical data pulled from multiple government sources is limited by variations in yearly reporting methods; and (3) insights about the public-school education of African American students are limited by UK’s conformity to the legal and cultural framework of racial segregation during the years the University School operated.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)