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For Educators

Red Brick in the Land of Steady Habits
Creating the University of Connecticut, 1881-2006
Bruce M. Stave, Laura Burmeister, Michael Neagle, Leslie Horner Papandrea, Sondra Astor Stave

University Press of New England
2006 • 386 pp. 78 B&W illus. 19 Color illus. 6 x 9"
Education History / Connecticut

$29.95 Paperback, 978-1-58465-570-1

A lively history of the University of Connecticut from its founding to the present day

Connecticut has long been called “The Land of Steady Habits,” a nickname resulting from the strict morals of its inhabitants, who in the colony's earliest days were governed by rigid Blue Laws regulating public morality. Although Blue Laws no longer exist, this term is still recognized across the state. “Red Bricks,” a British term, refers to six universities in England's industrial cities during the late nineteenth century. Unlike the elite Oxford and Cambridge, “Red Bricks” admitted students without regard to class or religion and concentrated on practical skills.

University of Connecticut, rooted in the Storrs Agricultural School (founded in 1881) to teach the farming trade, was more Red Brick than Oxbridge in its origins. In contrast to established private institutions such as Yale, Wesleyan, and Trinity, state-supported UConn was accessible at comparatively low cost to a wide variety of students.

Written in celebration of UConn's 125th anniversary, this volume traces how the university emerged from its foundation as a tiny agricultural college to become the leading public university in New England. Organized chronologically by the administrations of the University of Connecticut's thirteen presidents, Red Brick in the Land of Steady Habits discusses internal developments such as the creation of a major research library, the founding of professional schools, student life, athletics, and national research funding, within the broad historical context of particular presidential eras. The author traces the impact of the Great Depression, World War II and the postwar G.I. Bill, the McCarthy and cold war eras, Vietnam and other protests, diversity and curriculum reform, NCAA athletics, and the economic boom of the 1990s. Throughout, Stave shows how the national and international scene shaped events as Connecticut leaders transformed a serene, rural campus -- a provincial “safety school” -- into a competitive national research university.

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"It is a dispassionate account and indeed does not gloss over the controversies and problems at what has become a well-regarded university with more than 27,000 students at Storrs and other campuses around the state."—Hartford Courant

"Written in celebration of the university's 125th anniversary, this historical account traces the school from its beginnings as an agricultural college through its expansion and changes during the Great Depression and World Wars to become one of New England's prominent public universities."—Columbia College Today


Red Brick in the Land of Steady Habits is a model institutional history. Bruce Stave, a longtime faculty member at the University of Connecticut, has balanced the insight and enthusiasm of an insider with the detachment and scholarly objectivity of a skilled historian. He has placed campus events and personalities within the framework of state and local developments. This ‘unofficial’ narrative of the school’s first 125 years is exhaustively researched, meticulously footnoted, and written with grace and flashes of humor. It can be read with profit and enjoyment by anyone interested in higher education in the United States.”—Herbert Janick, Professor Emeritus. Western Connecticut State University

“A labor of love. . . and wisdom. Stave breathes life back into the minutes, memos, and carefully worded announcements of the official records. His vivid account lets us fully understand the conflicting swirl of events and transformations by which Connecticut’s agricultural school became New England’s top public university. Unlike many institutional histories, Stave’s study combines the historical perspective that comes with distance with the ‘on the ground’ intensity of being in the thick of the action.“—Walter W. Woodward, State Historian of Connecticut


Finalist: Connecticut Center for the Book Award

Author Photo

BRUCE M. STAVE is Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus and Director of the Center for Oral History at the University of Connecticut. He is co-general editor of the Palgrave/Macmillan Studies in Oral History series. His coauthored From the Old Country: An Oral History of European Migration to America (1994; UPNE, 1999) received the Homer Babbidge Award from the Association for the Study of Connecticut History and an award of merit from the Connecticut League of Historical Societies. He is the author or editor of nine other books, including Witnesses to Nuremberg: An Oral History of American Participants at the War Crimes Trials (1998) and The New Deal and the Last Hurrah (1970).

Mon, 23 Jun 2014 12:38:24 -0500