The textbook presidency theory and its relationship to the portrayals of 20th and 21st century presidents found in the middle level state history textbooks of Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, N
Roberts, Scotty Lamar
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The purpose of this applied mixed method study was to determine if Thomas Cronin’s (1974) textbook presidency theory was applicable to recently published/adopted state history textbooks used in 14 states. In addition, a secondary purpose of this study was to determine if four patterns of presidential mentioning found in a pilot study that analyzed state history textbooks used in Georgia were applicable to recently published/adopted state history textbooks used in other states. In all, 42 state history textbooks were analyzed by using both quantitative and qualitative forms of content analysis to compare the presidential mentions concerning 20th or 21st century presidents to the first three of Cronin’s (1974) four constructs, as well as to the four patterns of presidential mentioning. In this study I examined each of the 2,801 presidential mentions found in the 42 state history textbooks. In addition to analyzing the data as a whole, I categorized the data based on region, state, grade level, textbook adoption and non-adoption states, and the size of the textbook publisher. Overall, I discovered that the percentages of presidential mentions that correlated to Cronin’s (1974) constructs were relatively small in comparison to the total number of mentions found in state history textbooks, with 19% correlating to the first construct, 16% correlating to the second construct, and 12% correlating to the third construct. In all, I found that state history textbooks primarily mentioned presidents due to their connection to the state. Though not correlating to Cronin’s (1974) constructs, many of the portrayals about the presidents found in these textbooks, also outlined in this study, appeared to mirror many of the critiques that Cronin (1974) makes about the over-idealized image of presidents found in textbooks. In addition, I found that three of the patterns of presidential mentioning, named after presidents William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and Jimmy Carter, were evident in the majority of the 42 textbooks examined, while the fourth pattern, named after Dwight Eisenhower, was found in a small number of the textbooks studied.
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