The Principal's Office is the first historical examination of one of the most important figures in American education. Originating as a head teacher in the nineteenth century and evolving into the role of contemporary educational leader, the school principal has played a central part in the development of American public education. A local leader who not only manages the daily needs of the school but also represents district and state officials, the school principal is the connecting hinge between classroom practice and educational policy. Kate Rousmaniere explores the cultural, economic, and political pressures that have impacted school leadership over time and considers professionalization, the experiences of women and people of color, and progressive community initiatives. She discusses the intersections between the role of the school principal with larger movements for civil rights, parental and community activism, and education reform. The school principal emerges as a dynamic character in the center of the educational enterprise, ever maneuvering between multiple constituencies, responding to technical and bureaucratic demands, and enacting different leadership strategies. By focusing on the historic development of school leadership, this book provides insights into the possibilities of school improvement for contemporary school leaders and reformers.