Anna Eliot Ticknor

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Anna Eliot Ticknor

Anna Eliot Ticknor (Boston, Massachusetts, June 1, 1823 – October 5, 1896) was an American author and educator. In 1873, Ticknor founded the Society to Encourage Studies at Home which was the first correspondence school in the United States.[1] She is attributed as being a pioneer of distance learning in the United States, and the mother of correspondence schools.[2][3] She served as one of the original appointees to the Massachusetts Free Public Library Commission,[4] which was the first of its kind in the United States.[5]


George Ticknor

Anna Eliot Ticknor was the oldest child of George Ticknor and Anna (Eliot) Ticknor. She was born on June 1, 1823. Her siblings were George Haven Ticknor, who died during his childhood at age 5; Susan Perkins Ticknor, who died in infancy; and Eliza Sullivan (Ticknor) Dexter (1833–1880).[6][7]

Her paternal grandfather was Elisha Ticknor who was the impetus for the system of free primary schools in Boston, and one of the founders of the first savings bank, Provident Institution for Savings in the Town of Boston, in the United States.[8] Her father was a Harvard University professor.[1] Her mother was a writer.[1] Her maternal grandfather was Samuel Eliot, a Boston merchant. Her mother's brother, Samuel A. Eliot was the treasuror of Harvard College.[6]


In 1896, Ticknor wrote a children's book, An American Family in Paris: With Fifty-Eight Illustrations of Historical Monuments and Familiar Scenes.

The Society to Encourage Studies at Home[edit]

Lending library in Ticknor's family residence.

In Boston, Massachusetts in 1873, Ticknor founded an organization of women who taught women students through the mail.[9][10] Her society was the first correspondence school in the United States, and an early effort to offer higher education to women.[9] To assist the student in obtaining the needed study materials, in 1875 a lending library was established. The collection gradually grew to contain several thousand volumes. The purpose of the study varied between the different students with some people being young women with minimal schooling and others being educated women seeking an advanced learning opportunity.

Death and legacy[edit]

Anna Ticknor died on October 5, 1896.[1] After her death, the Society to Encourage Studies at Home released a history of the organization as a tribute to her. The book contains letters exchanged between Ticknor, students, and other people associated with the organization and gives an overview of the workings of the Society and the impact that it had on its students. The Society ceased operating after her death, and the Anna Ticknor Library Association was formed to circulate the former Society's books, photographs, and other materials to a larger group of interest learners.[1][11]


  1. ^ a b c d e Society to Encourage Studies at Home. Cambridge: Riverside Press. 1897. Retrieved 9 July 2011. 
  2. ^ Holmberg, Börje (June 1995). "The Evolution of the Character and Practice of Distance Education". Open Learning: 47–53. Retrieved 9 July 2011. 
  3. ^ Bower, Beverly L.; Hardy, Kimberly P. (Winter 2004). "1". From Correspondence to Cyberspace: Changes and Challenges in Distance Education (PDF). Wiley Periodicals, Inc. pp. 5–12. Retrieved 9 July 2011. 
  4. ^ Massachusetts Librarian of the State Library, ed. (1897). Public documents of Massachusetts, Volume 8, Part 2. Boston: Wright & Potter, State Printers. p. 7. Retrieved 9 July 2011. 
  5. ^ Paula Watson. "Valleys without sunsets: women's clubs and traveling libraries." In: Robert S. Freeman, David M. Hovde, eds. Libraries to the people: histories of outreach. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2003
  6. ^ a b National Federation of Modern Language Teachers Associations, Federation of Modern Language Teachers Associations, Association of Modern Language Teachers of the Central West and South, and National Federation of Modern Language Teachers. 1916. The Modern language journal. Madison, Wis. [etc.]: National Federation of Modern Language Teachers Associations.
  7. ^ Mott, Wesley T. 2001. The American Renaissance in New England Third series. Detroit: The Gale Group.
  8. ^ Lance Edwin Davis and Peter Lester Payne. From Benevolence to Business: The Story of Two Savings Banks. Business History Review, Vol. 32, No. 4 (Winter, 1958), pp. 386–406.
  9. ^ a b Bergmann, Harriet F. "The Silent University": The Society to Encourage Studies at Home, 1873–1897 in The New England Quarterly. Boston: September 2001. Vol. 74 No. 3. pp 447-77
  10. ^ Good Housekeeping. 1885. New York, etc: s.n. pages 45, 70.
  11. ^ Abbott, Lyman, Hamilton Wright Mabie, Ernest Hamlin Abbott, and Francis Rufus Bellamy. 1893. The Outlook. New York: Outlook Co. page 941

External links[edit]