Constance Mary McCullough

San Francisco State University (SFSU)


Biographical Statement

Affiliation: San Francisco State University (SFU)

Teaching:  Professor at SFU for 26 years who taught both graduate and undergraduate courses.  Additionally, McCullough served as a visiting professor at Berkeley, the University of Chicago, Columbia, Harvard, Brigham Young, and the University of Hawaii.

Scholarship:  McCullough’s substantial publication record in reading is without dispute.  By midcareer, (1963) she had 50 articles published on teaching reading at various levels—elementary, high school and college--and continued producing articles, textbooks, children’s readers, bibliographies, yearbook chapters, conference proceedings, monographs, and tests until her death.  She is probably best known for the texts that focused on readers who struggled, e.g., McCullough, C.M., Strang, R.M., & Traxler, A.E. (1946).  Problems in the Improvement of Reading. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Service: McCullough served as the vice-president (1960) and president (1961) of the National Conference on Research in English.  Later, she served on the International Reading Association’s (IRA’s) Board of Directors (1970-1972), as IRA vice-president (1973-1974) and president (1974-1975).  She received an International Citation of Merit (1969) for her service in multiple capacities in IRA’s World Congresses (from 1966-1974).  Additionally, in recognition of her leadership contributions to the field of literacy, McCullough received the William S. Gray Citation of Merit and an IRA Distinguished Service Award (1967). 

Personal and Professional History: Constance was born in Indiana in 1912, surrounded by educators.  Her mother graduated from the Indianapolis Normal School and her older sister, a Vassar graduate like Constance, became a high school teacher and head of the English Department.  She received her PhD from the University of Minnesota in 1938, with a major in education and minors in both math and statistics.  Never one to sit still, McCullough was one of an elite group chosen to work with the U.S. Army of Occupation in Tokyo after WWII to help “democratize” Japan (1948-1949).  This mission of spreading democratic principles continued when McCullough was contracted by Columbia University and the Agency for International development to produce beginning reading materials in India (1963-1965).  Her intention was to incorporate material that required children to think for themselves, and express and support that thinking rather than engage in rote memorization, as had been their practice.  The democratic ideals she espoused emerged again in her extensive work with the IRA’s World Congresses.

For a more extensive biography of Constance McCullough see:

Barry, A.L. (2012).  Gristle and Shakespeare: Life and Contributions of a Reading Hall of Fame Member.  Part I.  History of Reading News, 36(1), 1-4.  Part II appears in the 2013 edition of History of Reading News.