Chautauqua movement

Popular U.S. educational and cultural movement founded in 1874.

It began as a training assembly for Sunday-school teachers at Chautauqua Lake, N.Y., but gradually spread to various circuit "chautauquas" and broadened in scope to include general education and popular entertainments, many of which incorporated religious themes. Outstanding speakers were brought in for summer lectures and classes. The movement declined after reaching a peak in 1924 (though the Chautauqua Institution still holds meetings), but its legacy contributed to the growth of community colleges and continuing education programs. See also lyceum movement.

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▪ American education
      popular U.S. movement in adult education that flourished during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The original Chautauqua Lake Sunday School Assembly in western New York, founded in 1874 by John H. Vincent and Lewis Miller, began as a program for the training of Sunday-school teachers and church workers. At first entirely religious in nature, the program was gradually broadened to include general education, recreation, and popular entertainment. In later years the summer lectures and classes were supplemented by a year-round nondenominational course of directed home reading and correspondence study. William Rainey Harper (Harper, William Rainey), later the founding president of the University of Chicago, directed the Chautauqua educational system for several years starting in 1883.

      The success of the Chautauqua, N.Y., assembly led to the founding of many similar “chautauquas” throughout the United States patterned after the original institution. By 1900 there were hundreds of “tent” chautauquas and nearly 150 independent chautauquas with permanent lecture halls, many of which continued the tradition of the lyceum movement. Although the remote chautauquas began to decline after their peak year in 1924, the original institution at Chautauqua remained in existence, offering a diversified program that included symphony concerts, operas, plays, university summer school courses, and lectures.

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Universalium. 2010.

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