Parker, Francis W. (Francis Wayland), 1837-1902

Variant names
Birth 1837-10-09
Death 1902-03-02

Biographical notes:

Educator and teacher.

From the description of Papers, 1857-1904 (inclusive). (University of Chicago Library). WorldCat record id: 52247000

Francis W. Parker [1837-1902], leading American educator, was called by John Dewey "more than any other person... the father of the progressive education movement." His teaching career, begun ca. 1857 was interrupted by the Civil War; by the end of the war Parker had attained the rank of lieutenant colonel and for the remainder of his life was known as "Colonel Parker." A $5,000 legacy enabled him to study at the Friedrich Wilhelms University in Berlin and to travel in Holland, Switzerland, Italy, and France, from 1872 to 1875 where he encountered the educational theories of Pestalozzi, Herbart, and Froebel. After returning to the United States, he was appointed superintendent of schools in Quincy, Massachusetts; here his educational innovations, labelled the "Quincy movement," made him a national reputation. In 1883, after several frustrating years in the Boston school system, Parker became principal of the Cook County Normal School in Chicago--an institution devoted to the training of elementary school teachers. Among the supporters of Parker's work in Chicago were Jane Addams, Rabbi Emil G. Hirsch, and Anita McCormack Blaine [Mrs. Emmons Blaine].

In 1899, Mrs. Blaine, in order to free Parker from the continual harassment of politicians and the school board, offered to endow a private school for Parker and his faculty; accordingly, in that year, the Chicago Institute was established. Land was purchased, architectual drawings for the proposed Institute were prepared, and temporary classes begun when William Rainey Harper proposed that the Chicago Institute join with the Department of Education to form the School of Education of the University of Chicago. The merger was to become official on July 1, 1901, and, at the June, 1901 Convocation, ground was broken for the School of Education Building, "Emmons Blaine Hall." At the same time, an elementary school "extension"--known as the Francis W. Parker School--was established on the North Side of the city for the benefit of the sizeable contingent of Chicago Institute pupils who resided there. Parker became Director of the School of Education, while John Dewey (at the University since 1894) remained Head Professor in the Department of Education in the Graduate Schools of Art, Literature, and Science. However, on March 2, 1902, Parker, who had been in ill-health since the beginning of the year, died at the age of 64. The trustees of the Chicago Institute recommended to the Board of Trustees of the University of Chicago that John Dewey be appointed as Parker's successor, and this was accordingly done.

From the guide to the Parker, Francis Wayland. Papers, 1857-1904, (Special Collections Research Center University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.)

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