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Looking for Meaning in the Alabama Lectures' Book Series: An Epitaph for an Old Friend of Public Administration after 57 Years


Mordecai Lee is a professor of governmental affairs at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. He is the author of Bureaus of Efficiency: Reforming Local Government in the Progressive Era (Marquette University Press, 2008), Institutionalizing Congress and the Presidency: The U.S. Bureau of Efficiency, 1916–1933 (Texas A&M Press, 2006), and The First Presidential Communications Agency: FDR's Office of Government Reports (SUNY Press, 2005).


This essay analyzes and reviews the significance of the Alabama Public Administration Lecture Series, one of the most distinguished and long-lasting platforms in public administration. Based on guest lectures that were delivered annually to University of Alabama graduate students in public administration, the series began in 1944 and concluded in 2000. During those 57 years, most of the lectures were published as books, usually by the University of Alabama Press. The last book of the series will be published in 2009. This article examines the series as a whole and asks, what does the series tell us about public administration? What does it tell us about how our field got to where it is now? These questions are important because the books present a running conversation on the important subjects of public administration. The article shows that the lecture series offers a history of the field, reflecting the topics that were considered important by leading thinkers in their times.