A database of 82 American high school biology textbooks, from Elements of Biology (1907) through Modern Biology (1969).

Each entry includes a brief observational note and a 0-5 ranking based on a qualitative assessment of the presentation of the topic of evolution. The table also includes title, copyright date, author(s) and category: P for phylogenetic, E for economic, U for unity of life, and N for normative. I will be writing more on this categorization scheme shortly.

For criteria and analysis, see The Topic of Evolution in Secondary Schools Revisited.

HIGH SCHOOL BIOLOGY TEXTBOOK DATABASE (EVOLUTION FOCUS)

TitleDateAuthor(s)PubTypeEvolution 0-5
Elements of Biology1907Hunter, George WilliamAmerican Book Company, New YorkPhylogenetic0 None beyond that implied by the phylogenetic structure.
First Course in Biology*1908Bailey, L. H.; Coleman, Walter MMacmillan, New YorkPhylogenetic1 Some content on evolution - which text equates with progress and complexity - integrated into sections on reptiles and bacteria, similar to Smallwood (except 1920).
Essentials of Biology1911Hunter, George WilliamAmerican Book Company, New YorkPhylogenetic2 Introduces evolution, including human evolution. Very Lamarckian. No Darwin.
Applied Biology*1911Bigelow, Maurice A; Bigelow, Anna NMacmillan, New YorkUnity of Life5 Though presented at the end of the text, provides a thorough and surprisingly modest explanation of the topic of evolution.
Elementary Biology: Plant, Animal, Human1912Peabody, James Edward; Hunt, Arthur EllsworthMacmillan, New YorkPhylogenetic1 None beyond that implied by the phylogenetic structure.
A Civic Biology1914Hunter, George WilliamAmerican Book Company, New YorkEconomic3 An amalgam of Lamarckian and Darwinian ideas, used the word evolution, but consigned Darwin to support "improvement" of plants, animals and humans (253).
Practical Biology*1916Smallwood, W. M; Reveley, Ida L; Bailey, Guy AAllyn and Bacon, BostonPhylogenetic2 Evolution indexed. Darwin bio (30) includes references to both Origins and Descent.
Civic Biology*1918Hodge, Clifton F. and Dawson, JeanGinn, BostonEconomic3 Offers reasonable description of evolution, but only as a set up to genetic and eugenic management.
Elementary Biology: An Introduction to the Science of Life1919Gruenberg, Benjamin CGinn, BostonUnity of Life4 Clear in its presentation of theory. Cautionary in promotion of application.
Biology for High Schools1920Smallwood, W. M; Reveley, Ida L; Bailey, Guy AAllyn and Bacon, BostonPhylogenetic0 Evolution not indexed. Darwin bio not present in text (only Smallwood to omit). Weak presentation of human evolution. Confused presentation of natural selection.
Biology for Beginners1921Moon, Truman JHolt, New YorkPhylogenetic3 Indexed. Reasonable description. Note: strongly links organic and cultural evolution.
Civic and Economic Biology1922Atwood, Wm. HP. Blakiston's, Philadelphia Economic4 Complete by standards of the day, though highly progressionist, focused toward improvement. Labeled "The Doctrine of Evolution." Compare to era's best, Bigelow 1911.
Biology of Home and Community1923Trafton, Gilbert HMacmillan, New YorkEconomic4 Excellent, extensive treatment of topic. Unusual for its day. Downplays natural selection somewhat in favor of mutations - typical.
The Biology of Man and Other Organisms1923Linville, Henry RHarcourt, New YorkNormative4 Evolution strongly presented, though its position at the end of zoology section telegraphs a progressionist rather than unity of life ideology.
New Essentials of Biology1923Hunter, George WilliamAmerican Book Company, New YorkPhylogenetic2 Identical to Hunter 1911.
Living Things, An Elementary Biology1924Clement, Arthur GIroquois Publishing Co, Syracuse, NYEconomic2 Natural selection, adaptation, Darwin credited for theory, evolution indexed, reference to Origins.
Biology and Human Welfare1924Peabody, James Edward; Hunt, Arthur EllsworthMacmillan, New YorkEconomic1 Darwin (along with Agassiz and Pasteur) introduced early as great biologists, but no mention of evolution.
New Biology1924Smallwood, W. M; Reveley, Ida L; Bailey, Guy AAllyn and Bacon, BostonPhylogenetic2 Indexed and woven into the text, carefully so as not to offend. Word 'evolution' used just once, and oddly. Darwin bio edited.
Living Things, An Elementary Biology1925Clement, Arthur GIroquois Publishing Co, Syracuse, NYEconomic1 Natural selection remains from 1924 (but as before, only as support for selective breeding. 'Evolution' removed from index. Darwin bio edited.
Biology and Human Life1925Gruenberg, Benjamin CGinn, BostonEconomic3 Accurate, anti-progressionist description of natural selection (536) with meaning of "fittest" strongly disclaimed.
New Civic Biology1926Hunter, George WilliamAmerican Book Company, New YorkEconomic3 No different in effect or content than Hunter 1914, despite edits made to satisfy post-Scopes publishing concerns (e.g. 'evolution' became 'development').
Biology for Beginners1926Moon, Truman JHolt, New YorkPhylogenetic3 Nearly identical to Moon 1921.
An Introduction to Biology1926Kinsey, Alfred CLippincott, ChicagoUnity of Life3 Defends the use of the word 'evolution' (196-97), but focuses on 'sports' and artificial selection. No theory. Evolution not indexed.
Modern Biology: Its Human Aspects1926Waggoner, Harry DwightD. C. Heath, BostonPhylogenetic / Unity of Life hybrid1 Closes with a short paragraph on the "Law of Development" and the words "Organic Evolution," but makes no mention of the topic elsewhere in the text.
Biology1927Atwood, Wm. HP. Blakiston's, Philadelphia Economic2 A significant step back from 1922. Evolution not indexed. Word appears only in definitions. Theory presented within closing biography section. Wallace, not Darwin, pictured. No history, human evolution.
New General Biology1929Smallwood, W. M; Reveley, Ida L; Bailey, Guy AAllyn and Bacon, BostonPhylogenetic2 Indexed and woven into the text, carefully so as not to offend. 'Development' substituted for 'evolution' in text. 'Evolution' still in Darwin bio. Bio includes concluding paragraph from Origins (between 648-649).
Advanced Biology1929Wheat, Frank M.; Fitzpatrick, Elizabeth TAmerican Book Company, New YorkUnity of Life5 Significant, detailed 20-page section. Though typical Lamarck-Darwin-deVries layout.
Problems in Biology1931Hunter, George WilliamAmerican Book Company, New YorkEconomic3 More explicitly links general evolution ('development') and human evolution. No clear expression of theory.
Essentials of Biology1931Meier, W. H. D; Meier, LoisGinn, BostonPhylogenetic0 No mention of evolution, even as bridging material.
Dynamic Biology1933Baker, Arthur O; Mills, Lewis HRand McNally, New YorkNormative (weakly)3 Does not index word 'evolution." But closes with reasonable description of historical evolution and theory. Disclaims Darwin in favor of De Vries. Not unusual for the era.
Biology for Beginners1933Moon, Truman J; Mann, Paul BHolt, New YorkPhylogenetic4 Expands treatment relative to 1926, though substitutes "racial development" for evolution
New Introduction to Biology1933Kinsey, Alfred CLippincott, ChicagoUnity of Life3 'Evolution' introduced in index and treatment slightly expanded. Kinsey not current - labels natural selection "Darwinism" or "Survival of the Fittest" (431).
The Living World1933Mank, Helen GardnerBenj. H. Sanborn & Co, ChicagoUnity of Life / Health1 Natural selection, but no Darwin.
New Biology1934Smallwood, W. M; Reveley, Ida L; Bailey, Guy AAllyn and Bacon, BostonPhylogenetic3 Strong presentation relative to earlier versions, integrated paleontology, heredity, and human ancestry.
Biology for Today1934Curtis, Francis D; Caldwell, Otis W; Sherman, Nina HenryGinn, BostonUnity of Life2 Difficult to judge. No mention of Darwin. Word 'evolution' not used. But concept fully integrated into reproduction, genetics and "The Record of the Ages" (576-650).
Biology1935Fitzpatrick, Frederick L; Horton, Ralph EHoughton Mifflin, BostonEconomic5 Strongest presentation of evolution in any American high school textbook until BSCS, complete and fully integrated, yet does not index or use the word!
Everyday Problems in Biology1936Pieper, Charles J; Beauchamp, Wilber L; Frank, Orlin DScott, Foresman and Company, ChicagoUnity of Life / Economic2 Not indexed. Implied in several sections.
Our World of Living Things1936Heiss, Elwood D; Osborn, Ellsworth S; Manzer, J. GordonWebster Publishing Company, St. Louis, MOUnity of Life / Health4 Strong presentation of evolution (sans word), including human and cultural evolution.
New Biology1937Smallwood, W. M; Reveley, Ida L; Bailey, Guy AAllyn and Bacon, BostonPhylogenetic3 Strong presentation relative to earlier versions, integrated paleontology, heredity, and human ancestry. Though contant still scattered and confused.
Biology: a Revision of Biology for Beginners1938Moon, Truman J; Mann, Paul BHolt, New YorkPhylogenetic4 All but identical to Moon 1933.
Adventures with Living Things1938Kroeber, Elsbeth; Wolff, Walter HD. C. Heath, BostonPhylogenetic / Unity of Life hybrid5 Similar to Smith 1938. Thorough, unapologetic, integrated presentation. Indexed.
New Introduction to Biology1938Kinsey, Alfred CLippincott, ChicagoUnity of Life3 Identical to Kinsey 1933.
Exploring Biology1938Smith, Ella TheaHarcourt, New YorkUnity of Life5 About as strong a presentation of evolution as possible in the pre-synthesis era.
A Biology of Familiar Things1939Bush, George L; Dickie, Allan; Rukle, Ronald CAmerican Book Company, New YorkNormative0 Evolution not mentioned. Not surprising for a text focused on helping students adjust to "the best of all possible worlds."
Living Things and You1940Downing, Elliot R; McAtee, Veva MLyons and Carnahan, ChicagoNormative4 Thoroughly integrates evolution, including human evolution, into narrative.
Biology and Human Affairs1941Ritchie, John WWorld Book Company, Yonkers-On-HudsonNormative3 Book organized against progressive evolutionary ideology. However, topic not indexed. Darwin not cited. Author betrays out-of-date affection for "big mutations," De Vries saltatory theory.
Biology: a Revision of Biology for Beginners1941Moon, Truman J; Mann, Paul BHolt, New YorkPhylogenetic4 All but identical to Moon 1933.
Science of Living Things1941Clinton, Weymouth GHolt, New YorkUnity of Life2 Though text opens with implied evolution, topic is used mainly as an introduction to the world as it is. Word not indexed.
Dynamic Biology Today1943Baker, Arthur O; Mills, Lewis HRand McNally, New YorkNormative3 Retains identical description from Baker 1933. Continues to disclaim natural selection in favor of 'sports,' or mutation theory.
Everyday Biology1943Curtis, Francis D; Caldwell, Otis W; Sherman, Nina HenryGinn, BostonUnity of Life2 Identical to Curtis 1934.
Exploring Biology1943Smith, Ella TheaHarcourt, New YorkUnity of Life4 Strong and thorough presentation of evolution closes text. Integrates history, theory and human evolution.
Biology and Man1944Gruenberg, Benjamin C; Bingham, N. EldredGinn, BostonUnity of Life5 Strong integrated presentation.
Biology for Better Living1946Bayles, Ernest E; Burnett, R. WillSilver Burdett Company, New YorkNormative4 Does not index 'evolution,' but covers the topic in two chapters totaling 26 pages. Very reasonable summation of pre-synthesis thinking (608).
Biology for You1946Vance, B. B; Miller, D. FLippincott, ChicagoNormative3 Evolution is present. Text explicitly links general and human evolution. But topic detailed in summary only (588).
Biology: a Revision of Biology for Beginners1946Moon, Truman J; Mann, Paul BHolt, New YorkPhylogenetic4 All but identical to Moon 1933.
Modern Biology1947Moon, Truman J; Mann, Paul B; Otto, James HHolt, New YorkPhylogenetic2 Decoupled discussion of theory of evolution from human evolution and cultural development. Theory used to reinforce argument for scientific management
Biology and Human Affairs1948Ritchie, John WWorld Book Company, Yonkers-On-HudsonNormative3 Integrated presentation, quite similar to Ritchie 1941. Topic not indexed. Darwin not cited. Natural selection and historical evolution described in detail. Out of date.
Elements of Biology1948Smallwood, W. M; Reveley, Ida L; Bailey, Guy A; Dodge, Ruth A Allyn and Bacon, BostonPhylogenetic3 Retains strong presentation relative to 20s/early 30s Smallwood - integrated paleontology, heredity, and human ancestry. Evolution content consolidated following botany, before vocations.
Exploring Biology1949Smith, Ella TheaHarcourt, New YorkUnity of Life5 Introduces "the synthetic theory" (498). First high school text to do so.
Adventures with Animals and Plants1950Kroeber, Elsbeth; Wolff, Walter HD. C. Heath, BostonUnity of Life4 All but identical to Kroeber and Wolff 1938. Somewhat less integrated due to text structure. No synthesis, despite date.
Modern Biology1951Moon, Truman J; Mann, Paul B; Otto, James HHolt, New YorkPhylogenetic2 Identical to Moon 1947.
Elements of Biology1952Smallwood, W. M; Reveley, Ida L; Bailey, Guy A; Dodge, Ruth A (lead author)Allyn and Bacon, BostonPhylogenetic2 Terribly out of date, very 'nineteenth century' presentation of evolution relative to competitive texts.
Basic Biology for High Schools1953Fenton, Carroll Lane; Kamby, Paul EMacmillan, New YorkUnity of Life4 Thorough treatment of topic of evolution. Topic commands significant integrated placement, indexed by word (though word, surprisingly only in index, referred to as 'change' in text).
Exploring Biology1954Smith, Ella TheaHarcourt, New YorkUnity of Life5 Continued strong presentation of evolution. "Synthetic theory" now called "The Modern Theory." Incorporation of modern mutation understanding in heredity and genetics sections.
Biology in Our Lives1955Hunter, George W; Hunter, F. RAmerican Book Company, New YorkNormative3 Basic. Topic indexed, integrated with heredity and reproduction and presented mid-text. No synthetic/modern theory.
Biology in Daily Life1955Curtis, Francis D; Urban, JohnGinn, BostonUnity of Life3 Though the word evolution is not used, text begins with "the Changing Populations of Living Things," introducing Darwin in the first paragraph.
Modern Biology1956Moon, Truman J; Mann, Paul B; Otto, James HHolt, New YorkPhylogenetic1 Closing chapter from Moon 1947/1951 remains. Discussion of human ancestry deleted.
Biology1957Kroeber, Elsbeth; Wolff, Walter H; Weaver, Richard LD. C. Heath, BostonUnity of Life4 Indexed and integrated. No modern synthesis.
Biology for You1958Vance, B. B; Miller, D. FLippincott, ChicagoNormative3 Evolution is present. Text explicitly links general and human evolution. But topic detailed in summary only (588).
Biology : The Living World1958Curtis, Francis D; Urban, JohnGinn, BostonUnity of Life2 Main narrative opens with Darwin, and is identical to Curtis 1955 (1949, 1953). Downgraded here from 3 to 2 based on relation to much stronger presentations in contemporary Smith and Kroeber texts.
New Dynamic Biology1959Baker, Arthur O; Mills, Lewis H; Tanczos Jr., JuliusRand McNally, New YorkNormative2 Retains identical description from Baker 1933, 1943. Woefully out of date by 1959. Word "evolution" not indexed.
Exploring Biology1959Smith, Ella TheaHarcourt, New YorkUnity of Life4 Strong presentation of evolution, totally focused on synthesis, marred by publisher effort to compete with Modern Biology through edits.
Modern Biology1960Moon, Truman J; Otto, James H; Towle, AlbertHolt, New YorkPhylogenetic2 Restores and slightly expands discussion of human ancestry. The word evolution still absent from text.
Your Biology1962Smith, Ella Thea; Lisonbee, LorenzoHarcourt, New YorkNormative3 Linked sections on heredity, genetics, the fossil record and human evolution. Does not index evolution or mention Darwin or natural selection.
BSCS "Yellow Version" aka Biological Science: An Inquiry Into Life1963Moore, John A (Supervisor); Glass, Bentley (Co-supervisor, though not credited as such)Harcourt, New YorkNormative5 Excellent presentation of evolution, integrating synthetic theory. Marred by progressionist ideology and claims of link to cultural evolution.
Modern Biology1963Moon, Truman J; Otto, James H; Towle, AlbertHolt, New YorkPhylogenetic2 Identical to Moon 1960. Finally indexes and uses word 'evolution.'
BSCS "Blue Version" aka Biological Science: Molecules to Man1963Deyrup, Ingrith; Welch, Claude (Supervisors)Houghton Mifflin, BostonUnity of Life5 Strong, but simplified presentation of evolution (relative, for example, to Smith 1959). General and not necessarily appropriate progressive thrust to narrative.
BSCS "Green Version" aka Biological Science: An Ecological Approach1963Bates, Marston; Kolb, Haven C (Supervisors)Rand McNally, New YorkUnity of Life5 40-page dedicated section in 700+ page text devoted to evolution. However, topic thoroughly integrated. Most 'modest' of all BSCS books.
Modern Biology1965Otto, James H; Towle, AlbertHolt, New YorkPhylogenetic3 Greatly strengthened, though theory presented is out of date and heavily disclaimed relative to humans.
Biology1965Krober, Elsbeth; Wolff, Walter H; Weaver, Richard LD. C. Heath, BostonUnity of Life4 Indexed and integrated. No modern synthesis. Not updated from previous edition.
Exploring Biology1966Smith, Ella Thea; Lawrence, Thomas GordonHarcourt, New YorkUnity of Life5 Excellent, modern, thorough presentation of evolution. Perhaps better than BSCS texts.
BSCS "Yellow Version" aka Biological Science: An Inquiry Into Life1968Moore, John A (Supervisor)Harcourt, New YorkNormative5 Excellent presentation of evolution, integrating synthetic theory. Marred by progressionist ideology and claims of link to cultural evolution.
Modern Biology1969Otto, James H; Towle, AlbertHolt, New YorkPhylogenetic3 Identical to Otto 1965.

4 Comments

  1. Is your Clinton 1941 description correct, or should “All but identical to Moon 1933” be in the spot below describing Moon 1941?

    Wonderful work, by the way!

  2. Brian,

    Good catch! Thanks. For some reason, the descriptions attached to all 3 of the 1941 textbooks were transposed. They are now corrected. Your comment makes me realize I need to update this list to include 2 or 3 books cataloged since.

    Ron

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