May 12, 2009

Judith Grabiner and Peter Miller’s seminal article on the treatment of the topic of evolution in American high school textbooks, “Effects of the Scopes Trial” (1974), was based partially on Peter Miller’s 1966 Harvard honors thesis, “Darwin and the Textbooks.”

Miller’s thesis is interesting as it was among the first papers to suggest that biology textbook authors and publishers progressively downplayed the theory of evolution in response to pressure from religious fundamentalists. This theme, expanded by Grabiner and amplified in the work of Gerald Skoog, has been referenced by numerous scholars examining the conflict between religion and science since.

OF INTEREST TO SCHOLARS: Miller conducted a reasonably thorough survey of textbook publishers and state textbook approval authorities to collect evidence for his thesis. He attached that survey as an appendix to his paper.

Miller, Peter D. 1966. “Darwin and the Textbooks.”
Honors thesis, Harvard University.

PDF: Available by request through Harvard Hollis.