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This paper explores the status of the undergraduate optics laboratory in American universities. It describes the laboratory of the sixties, using results of a national survey taken to help improve the teaching of optics. An upper level experimental course in optics and spectroscopy is described as an example of courses offered in the sixties. The results of a survey regarding the status of optics laboratories in the seventies are given along with some detailed comments by respondents. The results indicate that optics is a growing field, that modern books and experiments are being introduced into the physics curriculum of many universities, and that there is a need for an optics laboratory manual.