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National Education Association-Photographs

Identifier: NEA1009-RG

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of photographs created by or for the National Education Association in the course of its work. The series are divided up according to either the purpose the photograph was intended for, the publishing department or the people/places in the photographs.

There are eight series in the collection, the Congressional Contact Teams Photographs, Conventions Photographs, Division and Departments Photographs, Government Relations Photographs, Miscellaneous Photographs, NEA Reporter Photographs, NEA Today Photographs and Personnel Photographs.


  • Creation: 1857-2011
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1920 - 2011


Collections Governing Access note

This collection is open for research. The collection contains some restricted material. The archivist will review the boxes and remove any restricted material before giving a researcher access.

Historical Note

The National Education Association (NEA) is the largest professional organization and largest labor union in the United States, representing public school teachers and other support personnel, faculty and staffers at colleges and universities, retired educators, and college students preparing to become teachers. In 2010, the NEA had 3.2 million members and is located in Washington, D.C. The group holds a congressional charter under Title 36 of the United States Code granted in 1906.

The NEA describes itself as a professional employee organization. The mission of the National Education Association is "to advocate for education professionals and to unite our members and the nation to fulfill the promise of public education to prepare every student to succeed in a diverse and interdependent world."

The NEA is a volunteer-based organization that relies upon its members to perform much of the Association's work. The members are supported by staff at the local, state, and national levels with the stated goal of "building great public schools for every student.”

In 1857, Thomas W. Valentine, president of the New York State Teachers Association, issued a nation-wide invitation to teachers to unite in Philadelphia behind a common voice for America's growing public school system. After the meeting, the National Teachers Association (NTA) was formed with a membership of about 100. Minority educators were allowed to join at the start, but women were not allowed to join until 1866.

In 1870, the NTA merged with the American Normal School Association, the National Association of School Superintendents, and the Central College Association renaming itself the National Education Association. For the first 100 years of its existence, the NEA was controlled by administrators, and worked to further the interests of the "education profession" as a whole.

In the 1960’s, after the first passage of a collective bargaining law for public employees, the NEA adopted union activities in addition to its operations as a professional association.

The NEA merged with the American Teachers Association (ATA), formerly the National Association of Teachers in Colored Schools (NATCS) in 1966.

In 1998, a proposed merger with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) failed when it was rejected by NEA's Representative Assembly. Several NEA state affiliates have merged with their AFT counterparts, effectively forming a single association.

Over the years, the NEA has been a leader in national education reform and improvement movements. It has worked to improve the education provided to American school children through lobbying and campaigning on the local and national level as well as by promoting strong teacher education programs and continuous professional assessment and development.


168 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Arrangement note

The collection is organized into alphabetical series based upon the NEA’s organization. Records have been allocated largely to their offices of origin and reflect the work done within the offices, departments, divisions and units. Due to the immense size of the collection and the constraints placed upon the finding aid by the archival management system utilized by George Washington University, the collection was further divided up into parts.

Organized into 9 series: Congressional Contact Teams; Convention Photographs; Divisions and Departments Photographs; Government Relations; Miscellaneous Photographs; NEA Reporter Photographs; NEA Today Photographs; Personnel Photographs.

Physical Location

Materials are stored off-site, and will require additional retrieval time. Please contact the Special Collections Research Center for more information.

Guide to the National Education Association-Photograph Collection, 1857-2011
Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University Repository

George Washington University Gelman Library
2130 H Street NW
Washington DC 20052 United States of America