Carl Kaestle, former UW–Madison professor and prominent scholar of American education, dies

Carl F. Kaestle, a former UW–Madison professor and renowned historian of American education and literacy, passed away on Jan. 5, 2023, in Bloomington, Indiana.

Carl F. Kaestle
Carl F. Kaestle

Kaestle came to UW–Madison in 1970 and later became the William F. Vilas Research Professor in educational policy studies and history. He was the chair of the Department of Educational Policy Studies from 1978 to 1981, and the director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research from 1986 to 1987.

In 1992, Kaestle co-founded the Center for the History of Print Culture in Modern America at UW–Madison and was the original chair of its advisory board. The center — now named the Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture — has served as a gathering place for academics and librarians interested in print culture from across UW–Madison’s campus.

Kaestle’s research focused on the development of American schools, particularly in the 1800s. He is the author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of seven books and numerous articles, reviews, and commentaries. “His prose sparkled, and his arguments rested upon prodigious layers of research,” reflect UW–Madison Professor William J. Reese and University of Kansas Professor Emeritus John L. Rury in their remembrance of Kaestle.

In 1995 Kaestle left UW–Madison for the University of Chicago, and then became a professor at Brown University, where he retired as a University Professor Emeritus of Education, History, and Public Policy in 2007.

Read more about Kaestle’s remarkable life in this obituary from Brown University.

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