An Old Textbook

In rearranging my book shelves I ran across a book I had bought in a used bookstore years ago and I thought some might find it interesting to see what a fundamentals textbook looked like from a long time ago. The book is titled Fundamentals of Speech: A Textbook of Delivery (3rd edition) by Charles Henry Woolbert (late professor of speech at the University of Iowa), revised by Joseph F. Smith (associate professor of speech, University of Utah). As you’ll see from the Table of Contents, this book is closer to a public speaking book than what we now think of as a “fundamentals of communication” text. Originally published in 1920, this 3rd edition was published in 1934 by Harper & Brothers (which later became Harper & Row, and now HarperCollins, though the textbook division was taken over by Pearson Education and its Allyn & Bacon imprint). Actually, the book was originally printed locally for a course in public speaking at the University of Illinois in 1915.
In the introduction to the 1920 edition, Woolbert wrote: “The excuse for a new text on this old subject is the growing democratization of instruction in speech. The academic worth of the subject is now unquestioned, with the result that new courses in speech training are multiplying, from primary grade to university graduate school. This is as it should be; for in a democratic country too much attention cannot be paid to instruction in speech.”
The table of contents will give you a glimpse of what a fundamentals [public speaking] course looked like in the 20’s and 30’s:
Part One: Appreciating Speech
1. Talk: A social index to human worth
2. The development of speech habits
3. The process of speech training
4. The modern speech family
5. The approved speaking mode
Part Two: Action
6. Total bodily action and the speaker
7. Gesture and the audience
Part Three: Voice
8. Voice and meaning
9. Improving the voice
10. Quality
11. Force
12. Time
13. Pitch
Part Four: Language
14. Words, Words, Words
15. Pronunciation and enunciation
Part Five: Thought
16. Diction
17. Preparing for public address
18. Goals in public speaking
19. Means of attaining goals
20. Interpreting the thought of others—technique of reading
In addition, there were four appendixes: (1) the phonetic alphabet, (2) radio speaking, (3) after-dinner speeches, and (4) selections for practice and public reading. This last appendix totaled 88 pages of a total book length of 625+xxi.
As you can see the book was true to its subtitle, A Textbook of Delivery, a far cry from the public speaking textbooks of today where delivery is discussed in one or possibly two chapters, at most.

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