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George Robert Carlsen Papers

Identifier: RG99.0040

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Scope and Contents

The George Robert Carlsen papers document his twenty-five-year career in the English and education departments at the University of Iowa. The material includes correspondence, speeches, articles, reports, and clippings. Lecture notes are included from his graduate course, Literature for Adolescents, offered in 1981. The Brown-Carlsen Listening Comprehension Test he coauthored at the University of Texas is included. National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) convention programs are represented from 1959 through 1963, as well as Carlsen's three-page report about his term on that organization's executive committee.


  • Creation: 1941-1982


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Biographical or Historical Information

George Robert Carlsen was born April 15, 1917, in Bozeman, Montana. He received four degrees in English at the University of Minnesota, taking his B.A. in 1939 and his B.S. in 1940. He taught at Washburn High School in Minneapolis, Minnesota, from 1940 to 1942 before receiving his M.A. in 1943. Carlsen took his Ph. D. in 1948 under the guidance of the highly regarded educator Dora V. Smith.

During 1942-1947, Carlsen was an instructor in English and education at the University of Minnesota. He served as associate professor at the University of Colorado from 1947 to 1952. From 1952 to 1958, he was associate professor of curriculum and instruction at the University of Texas at Austin. While at the University of Texas in 1953, Carlsen and James I. Brown of the University of Minnesota designed the Brown-Carlsen Listening Comprehension Test, an achievement test designed for secondary school students.

Carlsen joined the faculty of the State University of Iowa as professor of English in June 1958. That fall he succeeded Raymond Kehl as head of English in University High School, a position he held until the school closed in 1972. Until his retirement in 1982, he served concurrently as professor of English and education. He researched methods of molding adolescents into avid readers. Two graduate courses he taught were "Literature for Adolescents" and "Recent Developments in Adolescent Literature." In 1982, the University of Iowa Foundation established an account for the G. Robert Carlsen Adolescent Literature Collection, housed in the University of Iowa Libraries' Special Collections Department.

Carlsen was recruited to serve in the National Council of Teachers of English in June 1955 as chair of the Senior High School Book List Committee. He continued his service as the second vice-president in 1959, first vice-president in 1961, and president for 1961-1962.

In other professional activities, Carlsen was editor of the Themes and Writers Series for McGraw Hill Publishing Company, as well as The English Journal.

He met Ruth Mary Christoffer at the University of Minnesota during the years they were students. The couple married in 1941 and they had four children, Christopher, Peter, Kristin, and Jane. Ruth was the author of eight children's books published during the 1950s through the 1970s. A bronze relief panel dedicated to her works may be found on the Iowa Avenue Literary Walk in Iowa City. George Robert Carlsen died December 13, 2003.


2.00 Linear Feet


Professor of English and education 1958-1982.

Method of Acquisition

These materials were donated to the University Archives in July 2007 by Peter Carlsen.

Related Materials

Folder, "Carlsen, George Robert," Faculty and Staff Vertical Files collection (RG01.0015.003)

Carlsen, George Robert. Brown-Carlsen Test of Listening Comprehension. World Publishing, 1952.

"The Dimensions of Literature." The English Journal (1952): 179-186.

Books and the Teenage Reader. New York: Harper & Row, 1967.

Voices of Readers: How We Come to Love Books. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English, 1988.

Literature IS--: Collected Essays. Johnson City, TN: Sabre Printers, 1994.

Denise Anderson, February 2010
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Iowa Archives Repository

100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242