PTA History: 1920-1929

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Notes from the Backpack Podcast

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  • Mrs. Milton Higgins elected president; represented U.S. at Norway meeting of International Council of Women
  • Headquarters building sold, after closing of United Service Club for Enlisted Men; office rented in National Education Association (NEA) building, Washington DC; full-time office secretary employed
  • Convention resolutions backed bill for universal physical education in public schools and recommended every state establish schools for deaf children
  • National PTA Membership: 189,282 in 37 state branches


  • School education committee created to keep organization informed on new movements in education and new opportunities for cooperation
  • First course in PTA work given at Columbia University during summer session
  • Plan adopted for organizing PTAs in South America
  • National vice president conferred on PTA with President and Mrs. Alvaro Obregon of Mexico


  • Participated in Congress of Child Welfare, Mexico
  • Bylaws revised; oak tree chosen as official emblem
  • More attention to preschool child and high school students listed among policies for future action
  • First college-credit course on PTA given at Columbia by PTA national executive secretary
  • National PTA committee appointed to assist and strengthen PTAs already formed in connection with schools for African-American children in segregated states


  • Mrs. A. H. Reeve elected president
  • Emphasis on "all-the-year-round parenthood, the things of the home brought back to the home, an educated membership, and interpreting the value of education to the American people"
  • Convention report on extension work in South America
  • National president reported that the NEA was asked to recognize "Parent Power: A School Auxiliary"


  • Adopted new name—National Congress of Parents and Teachers
  • Sponsored and financed program in North Dakota and Nebraska to show what concerted PTA effort could accomplish
  • Began crusade against illiteracy
  • Parent-teacher association organized in Brazil


  • New name recorded and new charter issued
  • Inaugurated nationwide health project, Summer Round-Up of the Children
  • National PTA one of three groups on committee to promote adult education on nationwide scale—specific function, to promote reading groups for parent education, to foster use of library facilities among parents, and to encourage parents to take university extension and other courses
  • President attended International Child Welfare Conference, Geneva, Switzerland
  • National PTA Membership: 875,240 in 48 state branches (increase of more than half a million since 1920)


  • Invited by World Federation of Education Associations (forerunner of World Confederation of Organizations of the Teaching Profession) to conduct section at subsequent international meetings
  • President attended organization meeting of Illiteracy Crusade; elected a director
  • Resolution urged action to eliminate smoking by minors
  • Schools of Instruction for PTAs published
  • First state branch off the mainland organized in Territory of Hawaii
  • Georgia Congress issued call to groups in various states to send delegates to sixth annual convention in Atlanta, Ga., May 6–7, for purpose of forming a national organization of African-American parents and teachers
  • Four states—Alabama, Delaware, Florida, and Georgia—sent delegates and thus became charter members
  • Thirtieth annual convention of National PTA was also held in Atlanta early in May
  • Mrs. A. H. Reeve, National PTA president, helped set up a new organization, which followed closely the pattern of National PTA—calling itself the National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers and adopting the same Objects as National PTA
  • NCCPT was to function only in the District of Columbia and those states where separate schools for the races were maintained so that African-American children might have PTA service
  • National PTA committee with state counterparts appointed to assist African-American people in organizing PTAs
  • Leaflet describing NCCPT organization and its program prepared and distributed
  • National PTA answered NCCPT appeal for help in training leaders and in providing literature and speakers to assist and inspire newly organized groups
  • Mrs. Selena Sloan Butler, founder, first NCCPT president


  • International Federation of Home and School organized; first president, the National PTA president; first activity, a world survey of PTA work with aid of International Bureau of Education (33 countries reported some form of parent-teacher cooperation)
  • National PTA President addressed 5th Pan American Congress on the Child, Havana, Cuba, as official representative of U.S. State Department
  • Board commended Cincinnati's equal pay for teachers with equivalent training and experience
  • First NCCPT annual convention, Nashville, Tenn.; constitution and bylaws adopted


  • Mrs. S. M. N. Marrs elected National PTA president; attended conference on education, in Hawaii, called by President Coolidge
  • Parents and Teachers, National PTA's first textbook, published
  • PTA summer credit courses given at 17 institutions
  • National committee of child health specialists established to advise PTA on Summer Round-Up
  • Mrs. Butler appointed as member of President's National Conference on Child Health and Protection


  • Seven cardinal principles of education adopted as basis of overall PTA program
  • Parent education program expanded through grant from Laura Spelman Rockefeller Foundation
  • A New Force in Education (proceedings of conference held under auspices of Teachers College, Columbia, and National PTA) published
  • County councils promoted because of isolation of many local associations
  • First National PTA correspondence course offered; registration: 255
  • NCCPT cooperated in Summer Round-Up of the Children and adopted seven cardinal objectives of education