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Fifty Years of Child Development

Back in the decade that reinvented youth, Tufts founded a new academic department devoted to that very phenomenon. The Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study (as it was then known) grew out of an earlier school for educating nursery teachers. Since 1964, Eliot-Pearson has grown into one of Tufts’ major research centers—on subjects covering infancy, childhood, adolescence, and families. It offers the eighth largest undergraduate major, as well as vibrant master’s and doctoral programs. Here are some milestones from the first half-century of the department—newly renamed the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development.

1964 The Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study is founded at Tufts, with Evelyn Pitcher as chair. Its roots can be traced to the Nursery Training School of Boston—opened in 1926 by Abigail Eliot and Mrs. Henry Greenleaf Pearson—which became affiliated with Tufts and moved to campus in the 1950s.

1974 Construction of the Evelyn G. Pitcher Curriculum Resource Lab, designed to support creativity in curriculum development and documentation of student learning.

1978 Fire destroys the Children’s School, Eliot-Pearson’s laboratory demonstration school.

1979 David Elkind takes over as chair.

1980 Thanks to vigorous fundraising, the Children’s School is rebuilt.

1981 Eliot-Pearson establishes the nation’s first Ph.D. in applied child development, after which the department becomes a major research center relating to the treatment, education, and support of children and adolescents.

1996 Name changes to the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development, a term encompassing both children and adolescents.

2006 Richard Lerner and Stanford’s William Damon edit Handbook of Child Psychology, 6th edition.

2007 Maryanne Wolf publishes Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain.

2009 W. George Scarlett and two coauthors publish Approaches to Behavior and Classroom Management: Integrating Discipline and Care.

2012 Marina Bers publishes Designing Digital Experiences for Positive Youth Development: From Playpen to Playground.

2014 Name changes to the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development, reflecting the department’s connection to different Tufts schools. October 25: Eliot-Pearson celebrates its fiftieth anniversary as a Tufts department.

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