Laubach, Frank Charles, 1884-1970

Alternative names
Birth 1884-09-02
Death 1970-06-11

Biographical notes:

American Board missionary in the Philippines.

From the description of Papers, 1930-1938. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 122622462

Frank Charles Laubach was Dean of Union College in Manila from 1922 to 1926. During this time he developed his picture literacy word charts and began his literacy program. In 1930 these were incorporated into a world wide literacy program, "Each One Teach One." The rest of his life was spent traveling around the world on literacy tours, and writing more than 200 primers in more than 165 languages in 51 countries. He also wrote more than 50 books and pamphlets on other subjects.

From the description of Teaching materials and publications. 1943-1969. (Asbury Theological Seminary). WorldCat record id: 12701803

Frank C. Laubach (1884-1970) was a Christian Evangelical missionary, author, and educator who specialized in international literacy. Dr. Laubach recognized literacy as a "first step toward ending the suffering and exploitation of the world's disadvantaged" (Laubach Literacy International brochure); he was the founder of the "Each One Teach One" literacy teaching method and of Laubach Literacy, and is credited with teaching more than 100 million people to read."

Frank C. Laubach

Frank Charles Laubach was born in Benton, Pennsylvania on September 2, 1884. He studied at Bloomsburg State College (1901), Perkiomen Prep School (1905), Princeton University (BA, 1909), and Union Theological Seminary (1913). He was married to Effa Seely on May 15, 1912, and earned his MA (1912) and PhD (1915) from Columbia University.

In 1915, Dr. Laubach and his wife went to the Philippines as Congregational missionaries with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. He was a minister at Cagayan, and taught at Union Theological Seminary in Manila. In 1930, he began literacy work on the island of Mindanao and developed an alphabet for the Maranaws in their own Maranaw language. This was the start of his "Each One Teach One" concept, which encouraged adults taught by the system to then volunteer their time to teach others. From 1930 to 1970, Dr. Laubach traveled to more than one hundred countries developing literacy primers in 312 languages. He and his literacy teams worked with missions, private agencies, governments, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Peace Corps, and UNESCO.

In 1935 Dr. Laubach organized the World Literacy Committee, and in 1941 he became one of the founders of the Committee on World Literacy and Christian Literature, known as "Lit-Lit" (later Intermedia) of the National Council of Churches. He worked with this organization until his retirement in 1954 at the age of 70. In 1951, to facilitate cooperation with government and secular organizations, Dr. Laubach started World Literacy, Inc. (now World Education). In 1955, the year after his retirement, he founded Laubach Literacy, Inc., a non-profit literacy organization with headquarters in Syracuse, New York. His son, Robert, took over the presidency of LLI after Dr. Laubach's death on June 11, 1970. Mrs. Effa Laubach died on March 29, 1973, at the age of 85; the couple are buried in the family plot in Benton, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Laubach was a prolific writer whose books covered a variety of interests, including the Philippines, prayer and spiritual life, challenges to world literacy and to international technical assistance, and materials to teach adults to read (including literacy primers in 312 languages). He gave the impetus to the opening of literacy and journalism courses at Hartford School of Missions, Syracuse University, Asbury College, Baylor University, University of California, and more than twenty other centers across the United States.

Laubach has been recognized many times for his accomplishments. He received honorary degrees from Princeton, Columbia, Syracuse, and Temple Universities, and from Lafayette, Wooster, Muskingam, Marietta, Findlay, and Baldwin-Wallace Colleges. Time magazine referred to him as the founder of a world-wide literacy drive. Norman Vincent Peale, in Look, called Laubach one of the five greatest men in the world, and Newsweek featured him as "one of the grand men of the missionary world." Lowell Thomas called him "the foremost teacher of our times." On the 100th anniversary of his birth, the United States Postal Service honored Dr. Laubach with the issue of a commemorative stamp in the "Great Americans" series.

Four books have been written about him: Apostle to the Illiterates, by David E. Mason; Each One Teach One, by Marjorie Medary; Champion of the Silent Billion, by Helen M. Roberts; and Frank C. Laubach, Teacher of Millions, by David E. Mason. His work has been taught to Sunday School children in the curriculum of the Methodist, Lutheran, and other denominations. Dozens of religious and secular magazines including Together, The Lutheran Standard, Christian Herald, Time, Look, Newsweek, Reader's Digest, Collier's, and Saturday Evening Post have run articles about "Mr. Literacy."

Laubach Literacy, Inc.

For a detailed history of Laubach Literacy and related organizations, including the National Affilication for Literacy Advance (NALA), Laubach Literacy Action (LLA), New Readers Press (NRP), and ProLiteracy Worldwide, please refer to the Laubach Literacy, Inc. Records finding aid.

From the guide to the Frank C. Laubach Collection, 1896-1974, (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries)


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Ark ID:


  • Literacy--Mexico
  • Literacy--Asia
  • Missionaries
  • Literacy--Latin America
  • Literacy--India
  • Visual literacy
  • English language--Textbooks for foreign speakers
  • English language--Study and teaching--Foreign speakers
  • Evening and continuation schools--United States
  • Clergy--United States
  • Missions
  • Literacy--United States
  • Literacy--Africa
  • Literacy--Colombia
  • Educators--United States
  • Congregational churches--Missions
  • Television in adult education
  • Religion and philosophy
  • Literacy
  • Adult education teachers, Training of
  • Adult education
  • Adult education--United States
  • New literates, Writing for
  • Clergy as authors


  • Adult education teachers
  • Missionaries


  • Philippines--Marawi (as recorded)
  • Marawi (Philippines) (as recorded)