on this interest, and he successfully applied much of what he learned to practical problems in higher education.
Theodore M. Newcomb was born July 24, 1903, in Rock Creek, a rural village in Ashtabula County at the northeastern tip of Ohio. His father was a Congregational minister. In an engaging autobiographical note entitled ''The Love of Ideas'' (1980), Newcomb recalled that his father had "a passion for the 'rural church,"' and as a consequence the family moved frequently from one small town to another. This meant in turn that his family provided the only continuity in his development, and he gave it uncommon loyalty.
The Newcomb ancestors had been early settlers in Connecticut and Vermont who had followed the westward movement to New York state, and then on into what was once the Western Reserve in Ohio. Family traditions were persistently Congregational, "not untouched by Calvinism." They had also been early abolitionists and, until a defection by Newcomb's parents in World War I, unshakably Republican.
Newcomb grew up feeling that the family was, however, sharply set apart from its rural setting. Both his parents were college-educated and held advanced degrees. They subscribed to "serious" magazines otherwise unknown in the community, and the family spent much time reading books, often aloud. There were even moments of ostracism for the family as the father took up locally unpopular positions from the pulpit, attacking the Ku Klux Klan or supporting pacifism. Family solidarity was thereby enhanced, and young Ted received his first lessons in the invigoration of departing from the herd politically.
Given the rural setting, Newcomb's early education was spent in one-room schools. The big transition came as he began ninth grade in a large high school in Cleveland,