125th Anniversary

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Notes from the Backpack Podcast

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125th Anniversary Advocating for Children

125 Years of National PTA’s Legacy and Impact

This year, we are celebrating the mission and work of PTA. It’s a celebration and a rededication of impactful advocacy for the betterment of all children.

Our founders were women of vision and passion. They refused to accept the status quo 125 years ago, and so we must consider, what would they think of our work today?

We won’t rest on our laurels—join us in our efforts to take their dreams into the future. 

Founding Women of National PTA

PTA's mission is to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children.

Quick Access

Stay engaged and explore our special 125th Anniversary Celebration resources across the following categories:

Share on Social Media

Toolkit includes a sample social media post and graphic for our 125th Anniversary and Founders' Day (Feb. 17, 2022).

Social Media Promotional Images

Since 1897....



National PTA is the oldest and largest child advocacy association in America and has been the conscience of the country on issues affecting children and youth.

Our millions of families, students, educators and community leaders are:

Capitol Hill

Advocates for every child’s education and well-being


Leaders in family, school and community partnerships


Champions for a more equitable future for all children




Thanks to the hard work and dedication of leaders across the nation, governance members, and our extraordinary volunteers and support staff, National PTA continues to help make every child's potential a reality.

Thank you....

Thank you for your diligence in working the work, helping leaders at every level remember that membership is vital to our association and that this work continues throughout the year.

Stay abreast of new membership recruitment tools and resources for all PTA leaders.

Membership is about Relationship


125 Days of Membership Challenge


Strengthen, grow and diversify your PTA’s membership with other passionate and dedicated PTA leaders just like you! Has your PTA taken the challenge?

We’ve designed a fun and membership-focused program to help you support your PTAs growth with free tools. 125 Days of Membership is a free 16-week initiative for local PTA leaders to focus on membership.

Grafenwoehr Elementary School


125 Ways to Increase Membership


The number one reason people don’t join PTA is that no one asked them to join!

Membership Growth

Use the following brochures for membership recruitment ideas that work in-person, virtually, and still more that will work in either setting!




For 125 years, National PTA has worked with school communities and decision-makers to solve the toughest problems in our nation’s history. It all started with our founders—Alice McLellan Birney, Phoebe Apperson Hearst and Selena Sloan Butler.

They had a simple idea—together, we can improve the future of all children. Alice and Phoebe, and later, Selena, understood the power of individual action, worked beyond the accepted barriers of their day, and took action to change the world for our children.

Our PTA History


National PTA is a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education.

Did you know?

Our PTA members have changed the course of our nation’s history.

In the 125 years since our founding, National PTA has played a big role in historic achievements, including the establishment of public school kindergartens, child labor laws, the federal school lunch program and more.

Mothers' Congress
Mothers' Congress of 1897


Celebrating PTA's History


Take a guided tour of the National PTA Legacy Room!

Located at the National PTA headquarters in Alexandria, Va., the Legacy Room is a vibrant reminder of the Power of PTA and positive impact the association has had on the lives of children in America.


Five-Year Strategic Plan


Our strategic plan builds on PTA's values and reflects the needs and interests of the families and leaders we serve. The goal is to expand our association's work and leadership role to forward our mission and build a bright future for every child.




Just as it was with our founders, the power of today’s PTA is in our collective voice. We advocate for equity, because we know public education is our nation’s great equalizer. And we advocate for diversity and inclusion. Our families have unique needs and they need to know PTA provides a support network that is invested in their child’s success.

Take Action


Did you know? National PTA can help you find, contact and communicate with your officials in Congress.

Write your officials. Tell Congress what your PTA supports. Take action.

National PTA at the Capitol




Why are we celebrating? This is a time to celebrate the mission and work of PTA and plan for the future. After 125 years, PTA is standing strong as a loud and proud advocate for parents, children and educators. Join us to take our mission into the future!

Reflections Artist James Jordan Wishes National PTA a Happy 125th Anniversary


Enjoy this short film and music composition, thanking PTA for 125 years of service. This piece was created by James Jordan, 2021-2022 Reflections Outstanding Interpretation Awardee in the Special Artist division for Music Composition and Awardee of Excellence for Film Production in the Special Artist division. James is from Syracuse High PTSA in Utah.


National PTA Pop Quiz


How well do you know the history of National PTA? Take this quiz to find out!


Q: National PTA was originally named...

  • The National Congress of Parents
  • The National Congress of Mothers
  • The National Congress of Parents and Teachers
Show Answer

A: The National Congress of Mothers

In 1908, the name was changed to National Congress of Mothers and Parent-Teacher Associations to better reflect the association's mission and goals. It was then shortened in 1925 to the National Congress of Parents and Teachers, and began to be referenced in shorthand as National PTA or PTA around the same time. Parent-Teacher-Student Associations, or PTSAs, first popped up in 1958, but became popularized in 1971. Learn more about PTA history and achievements at PTA.org/History.


True or False:

Every year, PTAs nationwide celebrate PTA Founders' Day on Feb. 17.

Show Answer

A: True!

The first-ever PTA meeting was held over 125 years ago on Feb. 17, 1897, when over 2,000 men, women, teachers and legislators traveled to Washington, D.C. to witness the founding of The National Congress of Mothers (later renamed National PTA). Each year on Feb. 17, PTA members honor this moment and recommit themselves to our mission, which historically involved planting trees (a reference to the original PTA logo). This year for PTA Founders' Day, PTAs nationwide hosted a Day of Service in honor of our milestone anniversary—find one near you at PTA.org/DayOfService.


True or False:

PTA membership is restricted to teachers or parents with children.

Show Answer

A: False!

Since our founding in 1897, PTA membership has always been open to anyone who advocates for child education and welfare—regardless of gender, age, profession or parental status. Find and join your local PTA (or become a National Supporting Member!) at PTA.org/Join.


True or False:

National PTA has three founders: Alice McLellan Birney, Phoebe Apperson Hearst and Selena Sloan Butler.

Show Answer

A: True!

The National Congress of Mothers was co-founded by educator and child-rearing expert Alice McLellan Birney and philanthropist and suffragist Phoebe Apperson Hearst in 1897; educator and organizer Selena Sloan Butler then founded the National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers in 1911. The two associations officially unified June 11, 1970 to become National PTA, one powerful voice for ALL children. Learn more about our founders (and the unification) at PTA.org/History.


Q: PTA members' advocacy efforts have resulted in ...

  • Child labor laws
  • Public school kindergartens
  • The federal school meal program
  • All of the above
Show Answer

A: All of the above...and more!

During the 125 years since our founding, PTA members have changed the course of our nation’s history, and they continue to do so today. See our current public policy work at PTA.org/Advocacy.


True or False:

The main role of PTA is fundraising for school needs.

Show Answer

A: False!

While PTAs do assist with school needs, our mission is to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children. We raise our powerful voice for change at every level of government, promote transformative family engagement, offer leadership development, and provide educational opportunities for families in the areas of STEM, the arts, reading, digital safety and citizenship, and physical and mental health. Learn more about How We PTA at PTA.org/HowWePTA.


Q: The beloved National PTA Reflections Program was established in ...

  • 1955
  • 1969
  • 1982
Show Answer

A: 1969!

Program founder Mary Lou Anderson, a lifelong arts education advocate and National PTA Board Member, shared that the idea for Reflections came out of a casual phone conversation with her cousin John Allen of Reader's Digest Magazine. The very first Reflections theme in 1969 was, "Reflections: Children and Youth Mirror Their World." Learn more about the program's 50+ year history and see this year's theme at PTA.org/Reflections.


Q: Which of the following U.S. Presidents served on the National PTA Board of Directors?

  • Theodore Roosevelt
  • Ronald Reagan
  • Herbert Hoover
Show Answer

A: Theodore Roosevelt!

In 1900, PTA founder Alice McLellan Birney invited Theodore Roosevelt to join the Advisory Board for the National Congress of Mothers. He remained an active member, even during his presidency, until his death in 1919. President Hoover formally recognized the association's work around the rights of children at his "National Conference on Child Health and Welfare" in 1930, and President Reagan declared October "PTA Membership Month" in 1983. Get more fun facts at PTA.org/History.


True or False:

The Notes from the Backpack podcast, launched in 2019, is PTA's first audio program.

Show Answer

A: False!

PTA's first radio program was called The Baxters! Launching Jan. 10, 1942, The Baxters followed the lives of Marge, Bill, Bud, Sandy and Janie Baxter. The show touched on topics such as economy, nutrition, fitness and the changing dynamic of family life during the 1940s. Attracting millions of weekly listeners, the program aired on NBC through 1949. Today, PTA is back on air with our podcast, Notes from the Backpack. Learn more at PTA.org/Podcast.


Q: When did National PTA officially launch PTA.org?

  • 1990
  • 1992
  • 1995
Show Answer

A: 1995! 

The wheels were set in motion when Microsoft Corporation approached National PTA to become one of the "charter members" of its new Microsoft Network (MSN). From there, National PTA worked with its board members and state PTAs to create its own World Wide Web site at www.PTA.org

BONUS Question! True or False: PTA exists only in the United States.

Show Answer

A: False 

While National PTA focuses on child welfare issues in the United States, our association believes strongly that the PTA mission is universal. National PTA leaders throughout our 125-year history have worked with concerned parents and educators in countries around the world to establish their own PTAs—most notably the Japan PTA in 1948, which was established with the consultation of then-National PTA President Anna Hayes. Learn more about PTA history and achievements at PTA.org/History.


Participate in our PTA Day of Service


Help us forward our mission! PTA has been making a difference for 125 years and there’s still so much work to do to make every child’s potential a reality. The PTA Day of Service is an opportunity for PTAs to continue that work, while giving back to their communities and increasing awareness of PTA.

Find out how you can host a PTA Day of Service event to help make a special impact on the lives of the children in your community, in celebration of our 125th anniversary.

For Your Child


There is No Wrong Way to PTA




How We PTA


When you join PTA, you become part of a community of people who work together to ensure public schools provide a first-class education for every child to:

  • Strengthen family and community engagement in schools
  • Elevate the voices of families in critical child advocacy work
  • Support programs that help enhance a student’s learning and development

PTA’s role is more important than ever in connecting parents, teachers and administrators, and supporting critical school needs. We offer the resources and tools families need to help support their child’s success. So, we want every family in our schools to join PTA, because we can do more together than apart.

COVID-19 RELIEF CASE STUDY Executive Summary

Every PTA Has a Story! See what PTAs across the country are doing to help meet the needs of their families, school and community. Read the stories of how PTAs are making an impact!


Donor Commemorative Brick Inscriptions

Donate to National PTA and Receive a Commemorative Brick Inscription

Donors who make gifts that total $500 or $1,000 between July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022 receive recognition with a special commemorative brick with custom inscription to be installed in the courtyard of the National PTA headquarters in Alexandria, VA.

Help us continue to make a difference.

Pave the Path to Education Memorial Bricks 2016-2018
Prior-donor commemorative brick inscriptions in Alexandria, VA.