The issues of childcare and early childhood education have been a hot topic in national conversations during the pandemic, but they are by no means new issues. In 1925, after several years of discussions and planning, a group of concerned nursery professionals founded the National Committee on Nursery Schools and held the first conference in 1926. This organization would evolve into the National Association for Nursery Education (NANE) and later the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Today NAEYC is a professional membership organization working "to promote high-quality early learning for all young children, birth through age 8, by connecting early childhood practice, policy, and research."
The California Association for the Education of Young Children is the state affiliate for NAEYC, and their records in Special Collections & Archives provide insight into the work of the organization to advocate on behalf of early childhood educators and for quality learning experiences for young children. The California Association for the Education of Young Children Collection documents the establishment and development of the organization as well as its programming, outreach, and advocacy on behalf of early childhood caregivers, educators, students, and families between 1926-2004. Organizational records and magazine clippings document the national conversations happening in the 20th century and the local response to policies passed or proposed at the federal and state levels.
The Southern California Association for Nursery Education, an early regional branch of CAEYC, also focused on raising the profile of the profession and early childhood education needs. The Southern California chapter was founded around 1945, to shape local and state-wide policy and practices in early childhood, particularly those related to education. The Southern California Association for the Education of Young Children Collection includes articles, committee reports, conference programs, correspondence, directories, financial records, event records, meeting minutes, membership handbooks, and newsletters. As part of their advocacy work, the branch convinced the mayor of Los Angeles to proclaim a week as "Nursery Education Week." This was part of a wider campaign to raise awareness, and also included the California governor proclaiming a "Nursery Education Week" at the state level in the 1950s and 1960s. By the 1970s, this week was known as "Week of the Child," with a companion Early Childhood Education month in March.
Early childhood educator Rosalie M. Blau was based in Southern California and served as an active member and leader in a number of professional organizations, including the National Association for Nursery Education and the Southern California Association for the Education of Young Children. Her papers include early records of the California Association for the Education of Young Children, as well as information on other individuals that made important contributions to the profession of early childhood education.