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Author Topic: Debate handbooks and summer institutes, late 1960s  (Read 7408 times)
CouldaBeenaContenda
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« on: November 30, 2013, 04:27:02 PM »

I'm trying to discover or develop the early history of debate handbooks and summer institutes, and could use any assistance that anyone reading this may offer.

I first joined my high school's debate team as a sophomore in the 1967-1968 academic year.  The National Forensic League topic was that criminal investigation procedures should be made more uniform.  Our school purchased three copies of a handbook published annually on the high school topic by a local company, J. Weston Walsh.  Chapters included an introduction to debate, some argumentation "theory", an analysis of issues likely to be pertinent to that year's NFL debate topic, and a few hundred "evidence abstractions" that we were warned were not to be used as actual quotations... but we copied them onto 3" x 5" file cards and used them as such anyway.  An examination of our debate team storage closet revealed that our school had bought similar handbooks from J. Weston Walsh in preceding years.

We also purchased one copy of another debate handbook published or written by an Alan (Allen?) W. Dale,  It was similar in format to the J. Weston Walsh handbook but the evidence in it was superior, and, as an added convenience, it came with the evidence citations also printed onto a set of file cards which we could photocopy and paste onto our own blank cards.

The next school year, 1968-1969, the NFL topic was that the federal government should enact a program of compulsory national service for all citizens.  We received offers of over half a dozen similarly formatted debate handbooks, and we bought one of each, as well as two J. Weston Walsh books - I guess in deference to the fact that they had been our original debate "research partner".  I did not scrutinize those new manuals to see what I might learn of their origin, but within a month of the beginning of the debate season, I had to move up from a recipe box to a file drawer to be able to carry all the evidence cards I had copied.  We were now entering the big leagues.  We had a file drawer, just like Bishop Guertin, Bishop Bradley and St Thomas Aquinas.  Well, almost just like them, as they had moved up, themselves, to 4" x 6", double drawer file card cabinets.  

We also bought a book that year titled, "Second Thoughts on..." and the rest of the title might have been, "...Manpower for National Defense" or something like that.  It was written by James Unger of Georgetown University and William Reynolds of George Washington.   Second Thoughts didn't have an evidence section, but as a trove of ideas, it was unmatched.  It was a work product emanating from Georgetown's summer debate institute, and it included full transcripts of two debates including interlinear critiques, as well as another two or three, first affirmative speeches.

By the end of that debate season, our school, relying on our purchased evidence and little else, had emerged as the perpetual fourth place team at state contests.  That summer, we received notifications from numerous colleges that they, too, were hosting summer institutes and that we were invited to apply for admission.  Unfortunately for me, I didn't have the one thing my application would have needed to assure my acceptance - money - and so the opportunity for me to jump into debate's fast track passed me by.

In the fall of my senior year, 1969-1970, we learned that the topic would be that the United States should prohibit unilateral military intervention in foreign countries.  We were offered about twice as many debate handbooks as the previous year and again we bought one of each, but this time I read the intros and prefaces and saw that many were secondary work products of summer debate institutes.  

One very useful handbook came from the University of Houston, which was in the middle of its 1967-1970 run as the first modern debate juggernaut and Best-Team-to-Never-Win-the-NDT.  For those young-ins who might never have heard of them, their successive year teams of Ware/Seikel. Seikel/Miller and Miller/Colby each won about 90% or more of their debates and 80% or more of the tournaments they entered without ever winning the NDT.  The transcript of Houston's 1969 loss to Harvard is surely the most widely published and read Final Round transcript of all time.

I think that another one of the handbooks must have come from Northwestern because I remember noticing the unusual name, Zarefsky, but again, the most useful handbook was the current year's, "Second Thoughts...". And lest I would think that having this book was going to give me a leg up on my local competition, I was dismayed to see that three of the debaters in the published transcripts were debaters from my own state.  I am also fairly certain that at least three more local debaters attended other debate institutes in the summer of 1969 as well.

As in the years past, my teammates and I copied lots of evidence citations onto lots of blank cards, but regrettably for all of us, I was the only debater doing any original research, as they were content to go to battle with just the cards they had copied out of the handbooks plus whatever I might give them during the rounds.  Our season and my high school debate career ended with a 2-1 loss in the state championship semis, but frankly, even if we had won that round and the finals, we would have been prime candidates to be the team that suffered the indignity of finishing in last place at NFL Nationals because, realistically, we just weren't very good.

At this point, I think the vehicle of using my own personal narrative to capsulize my knowledge of early debate handbooks and summer institutes has been driven as far as it can go, so I will now delineate my subject knowledge or lack thereof such that others may add to or subtract from it as they may be able and willing to.


1. I know of no annual, topical debate handbooks other than J. Weston Walsh published prior to the 1967-1968 debate year.  Were there any others?

2. Is or was the J. Weston Walsh handbook known nationally?

3. Who is Alan (Allen?) W. Dale, was 1967-1968 the first year of his handbooks, and how did they come into being?

4. Were there any debate summer institutes held before the Georgetown Summer Institute in 1968?

5. Would anyone from that era please list what other summer institutes subsequently emerged, and when?


As some of you may know, the size of the field of the NDT was increased from 38 teams to 44 in 1968, with eight of those teams being selected by a committee after the district selections were made, and in light of the success of those second round selections, their inclusion was considered a resounding success.  In 1968, two of the eight second round selections cleared and the one that had emerged as the sixteenth seed actually knocked off first seeded Houston 5-0 in octos, and the next year, three of the eight second round selections cleared.

I have read in some of the NDT tournament books history sections that, following the 1969 tournament, there was a battle to permit schools to qualify two teams for the NDT, and that when that plan prevailed, a number of schools dropped out of the NDT and formed what would eventually become CEDA.  In 1970, eight schools qualified two teams each, and not only did four of the eight second round qualifiers clear to the elimination rounds, three teams that had been designated as their school's "B" team cleared, and in fact the team that won the NDT had been designated the "B" team from that school, which I take to mean that it finished below their school's other team at the districts, so under the one team per school rule, it is possible that they would not even have been eligible to participate in the 1970 NDT.

One problem of allowing schools to qualify two teams for the NDT in 1970 is that it resulted in eight fewer school participating than had in 1969.  That problem was remedied, or at least somewhat ameliorated, by further enlarging the field to 52 teams in 1971.  And even with that, and even with a muilti-round selection process of automatic qualifiers, pre district at-large qualifiers, district qualifiers and post district at-large qualifiers, somehow a team that was good enough to reach NDT semis in 1972, Brown, didn't even get invited to the big dance in 1971, so it was only inevitable that the field would further increase to 62 teams in 1973, and so on.

It is presently my theory of NDT evolution that the success of the Georgetown summer institute seemed to give it a leg up on the other nationally competitive NDT programs, but while others were able to emulate it, initially, none could harvest much from the good will they sowed with top notch high school debaters that they groomed at their summer institutes because few outstanding high school debaters who intended to debate competitively in college would have wanted to languish on the bench for a couple of years, but if schools could qualify two teams, the prospects of freshman or sophomores emerging as at least the "B" team would surely be more appealing than the prospects of those incoming students otherwise making NDT at a lesser school with lesser resources.  So what I am looking for here is either endorsement or repudiation of that theory of NDT evolution.


- Michael W. Toland
« Last Edit: September 24, 2014, 07:43:45 PM by CouldaBeenaContenda » Logged

Dover (New Hampshire) High School debate team, 1967-1970
Dover High School Debate Coach, 1970-1971
University of New Hampshire debate team, 1970 (when we still spoke like human beings)
University of New Hampshire debate team, 1980-1981 (and when we didn't)
UNH assistant debate coach, 1980-1981
Ermo
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« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2013, 07:58:12 PM »

3.  Who is Alan (Allen?) W. Dale, was 1967-1968 the first year of his handbooks, and how did they come into being?

My high school coach was Wayne Brown (he started the video work with NFL finals), and I worked with him, doing most of the research for it from about 1987 forward (we stopped handbooks around 2003 or 2004). He acquired Dale Publishing Company around 1971 from Tom Stow, who was also faculty at Center High School in KC. I believe the operation was publishing debate materials starting in the late 1940s, but I've not seen them to say how they compare to handbooks as we understand the concept now (or even in the early 1980s, when I started).

Allen W. Dale was not actually a debate person - he was a real person, and an acquaintance of Tom Stow, but in relation to the Dale Publishing Company it was a pen name. Tom passed in the early 1970s, and I never met him.

I'm running your other questions by some people with ties back to the 1940s/1950s/1960s to see what else I can glean.
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CouldaBeenaContenda
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Posts: 73


« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2015, 11:49:22 PM »

I'm trying to discover or develop the early history of debate handbooks and summer institutes, and could use any assistance that anyone reading this may offer.

...in the 1967-1968 academic year.  ...Our school purchased three copies of a handbook published annually on the high school topic by a local company, J. Weston Walsh.  Chapters included... a few hundred "evidence abstractions" that we were warned were not to be used as actual quotations... but we copied them onto 3" x 5" file cards and used them as such anyway.  An examination of our debate team storage closet revealed that our school had bought similar handbooks from J. Weston Walsh in preceding years....

As in the years past, my teammates and I copied lots of evidence citations onto lots of blank cards, but regrettably for all of us, I was the only debater doing any original research, as they were content to go to battle with just the cards they had copied out of the handbooks plus whatever I might give them during the rounds....


......I will now delineate my subject knowledge or lack thereof such that others may add to or subtract from it as they may be able and willing to.

1. I know of no annual, topical debate handbooks other than J. Weston Walsh published prior to the 1967-1968 debate year.  Were there any others?

Today, I was looking to buy copies of the J. Weston Walsh handbooks that my former college debate coach had edited from 1973 through 1976, and my search brought me to a 2009 post at Cross-ex.com authored by Michael Miller of University of Houston debate fame.

From Michael Miller:

Quote
...At the 1968-69 NDT, Seikel and & I were carrying upwards of 35,000 cards, 99.5% of which were gleaned from the original literature and then typed up by David or me personally. For well or ill, at no time during my four years at Houston did any coach provide me with a brief, an argument, or a card. The "cards" UH debate used were entirely from squad member research - and that's God's own truth.

To the best of my knowledge, the "cut and paste" phase of debate originated primarily at the high school level, and consisted of cutting and pasting pre-edited quotations out of debate "handbooks"... which proliferated from one (J. Weston Walsh) in 1965-66 to more than 25 when I left Notre Dame HS in 1983.

So then, the two preceding years of J. Weston Walsh debate handbooks that I saw as a novice in my high school coach's filing cabinet were, in fact, the first (and second) evidence handbooks ever.

In that era, the college career of Mr. Miller overlaps my own high school career, but our experience and observations differ:

Again, from Mr. Miller:

Quote
At no time during my college debate career did NDT-level debaters, "photocopy pages from books and then cut out quotes from them to tape/paste them onto cards."

We checked books, government documents, academic periodicals, etc.* out of the library, read them, and then transcribed the pertinent quotes - via electric typewriter - onto 4x6 index cards. To us, "cutting" evidence meant editing.

With all due respect to Mr. Miller, by his senior year in college and my senior year in high school, 1969-1970, lots of debaters were photocopying and cutting and pasting.  Academic journals are printed on small size paper - 6" by 9" or smaller - and my foreign policy file drawers were stuffed with snipped and pasted quotes from Daedalus, Foreign Affairs, the American Scholar and the Journal of Conflict Resolution, and in fact, my local library had a photocopy machine that, when it worked, had previously enabled me to cut and paste citations from the Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology and Police Science for use when debating the NFL's 1967-1968 criminal investigation procedures resolution.  Quotes wider than 6" when trimmed were carefully folded over and then unfolded to be read.  When I came back to debate in 1980, file cabinets had been replaced by suitcases and the base card stock of choice appeared to be wider, IBM punch cards, which had become obsolete for their original intended use and were surely available in abundance.

Photocopies at my local library cost ten cents a page.  My senior year, my mother got a job and could afford to give me 40 cents a day for, "lunch", which could either buy a twenty-five cent hot dog, a ten cent ice cream sandwich and a three-cent half-pint of milk... or four pages of photocopies.  Not a difficult choice.


One more excerpt from Mr Miller's 2009 post:

Quote
* The "etc." included subscriptions to all of the weekly news magazines, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and - most importantly - the Daily Congressional Record. I envied the Georgetown program for a lot of reasons, but the most important one is that they could visit the Library of Congress every day. As a major university (OK, stop that snickering) the University of Houston had a great undergraduate library AND a terrific law school library. When they were open, that's where I was.

I've often self-deprecatingly boasted that while I am guilty of a number of venal sins, jealousy isn't one of them, but maybe sometimes it is and I just don't realize it.  For every Michael Miller who made it to the top plateau of debate, there are a hundred others, like me, who ruminate that if we had just had the resources that others had had...  But maybe we did have the resources and just didn't fully appreciate them.

I debated in high school in a state that had over twenty interscholastic debate programs and I was envious of the three that could afford to send their teams to "overnighters" and whose students had been able to afford to go to summer debate institutes, but looking back, I now see that the ready access I had to my state university's open stacks library gave me a research advantage over maybe fifteen of those twenty schools, and in fact a few of them, with no debate budget at all, could only attend Tuesday afternoon, two round, "Southeasterns", that only charged enough to pay for the cheap little medals they gave out.

Similarly, in college, we didn't have a dedicated debate team budget and only maybe once a season would the Department of Speech and Drama ante up enough money to send one team to a large tournament that was beyond driving distance, but in that era, New England was tournament rich and we could easily schedule a dozen tournaments that were close enough that we didn't even have to pay for hotel rooms for an arrival night or for a departure night following the finals.

I have to wonder how the schools in the Rocky Mountain states can afford to attend more than a couple of tournaments a year themselves.  From the Durham campus of the University of New Hampshire, we could drive one hour to compete against a national field at Harvard and two hours to Dartmouth; the MIT tournament drew from about 1,000 miles, including North Carolina (Loveland and McGuire) Georgetown (Perkins and Beales, Ziff and Jay), Georgia (Martinson and Martinson), and Wake Forest, and even the Brown tournament attracted strong competition from as far away as Wake Forest and Mid-Tennessee State.  Of course, we envied the well heeled local programs like Dartmouth, Harvard and Boston College that could spend a week in California every year, but realistically, if we could have won more locally, I'm sure some of those exotic destinations would have then become within reach.


But getting back to another still open questions from my original post.

Quote
4. Were there any debate summer institutes held before the Georgetown Summer Institute in 1968?

I have subsequently learned that Northwestern claims to have hosted summer debate clinics going back to the 1930s, which is to say, they preceded NDT debate, so I have to suspect that they were coaching a less intensive form of debate.   As of this writing, I still don't know of any summer debate institutes in the summer of 1968 other than Georgetown and Northwestern, and I know that Seton Hall hosted one in the summer of 1969, but when I debated in college in the fall of 1970, the machine gun delivery spreading was so pervasive that I am sure that nearly all of the successful debaters had in fact attended high school summer institutes, so I still think that all that I have seen or learned of regarding summer debate institutes in that era must be just the figurative "tip of the iceberg".   To date, however,  I have made no further progress in learning of the existence of other summer debate institutes in that era, and have no promising leads to further pursue at present.

- Michael W. Toland
« Last Edit: February 22, 2015, 05:44:03 PM by CouldaBeenaContenda » Logged

Dover (New Hampshire) High School debate team, 1967-1970
Dover High School Debate Coach, 1970-1971
University of New Hampshire debate team, 1970 (when we still spoke like human beings)
University of New Hampshire debate team, 1980-1981 (and when we didn't)
UNH assistant debate coach, 1980-1981
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