Northern Illinois University Press

Learning to Be Loyal

Primary Schooling as Nation Building in Alsace and Lorraine, 18501940

Stephen L. Harp

"A valuable study of primary education and its role in the creation of national identity."Journal of French History

"An impressive achievement."Journal of Modern History

"Provoking and rewarding.... Graduate students, advanced undergraduates, and those interested in comparative school history will find the book a particular pleasure."History of Education Quarterly

How do nations inculcate loyalty? In Learning to Be Loyal, Harp explores the role of primary education in nation building in a region that moved back and forth between French and German control four times in the period between 1871 and 1945. On the basis of extensive archival research, he shows how both France and Germany used the teaching of the national language, culture, geography, and history to transform ordinary people's local and religious identities into national ones.

As a comparative study of German and French education, Learning to Be Loyal cuts across the traditional national divisions in European history, often upsetting the stereotypes. France and Germany, whatever the supposed differences in their formulations of national identity, used similar educational strategies to achieve their ends. The important changes in the education of Alsatians and Lorrainers resulted not from differences between France and Germany but from the changing expectations concerning the centrality of the nation-state in the education of ordinary people during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Illustrating how recent the use of education as a tool of nation building is, Learning to Be Loyal provides a historical perspective for contemporary discussions about the role of education in meeting the challenges of linguistic diversity and national culture in the late twentieth century. It will appeal broadly to social historians of modern Europe and especially to those interested in the history of education and nationalism.

(1998) 300 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-234-3
cloth $40.00

Table of Contents

1 Alsatians and Lorrainers into Frenchmen? The French Nation and Local Reality before 1870
2 Erecting a School Administration and Imposing German Schools, 18701871
3 Kulturkampf and Compromise: School Administration and the Politics of Germanization
4 Learning to Be German: Language and Nationality, 18711914
5 Creating the Region and the Nation in Textbooks and Curricula, 18711914
6 Teachers: Their Origins, Training, and Identities, 18711914
7 Pupils and Their Parents: The Impact of Schooling, 18711914
8 German and French Schooling in the First World War
9 Promises and Policies of the Patrie, 19181940

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-234-3
cloth $40.00