Edna Dean Baker

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Edna Dean Baker (1883–1956) was an educator, author, and President of the National Kindergarten and Elementary College (later to become National-Louis University) from 1920 to 1949. She was an early advocate for kindergarten style early childhood education in the United States.

Born in Normal, Illinois, her family moved to Washington state when she was six years old. After graduating from Watcom High School in Bellingham, Washington in 1902, she returned to Illinois to enter Northwestern University. At Northwestern, she was named to Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Lambda Theta honor societies while studying Greek and Latin with an eye on a college teaching career.

Her father's death in 1904 interrupted her college career, but seeking an alternative to a career in higher education, she entered the Chicago Kindergarten College. After completing the basic program, she and her sister opened their own private elementary school in Evanston, Illinois. In 1909, she became director of a kindergarten. She graduated with a Bachelor's in Education from the National Kindergarten College in 1913, and returned to Northwestern to earn a bachelor's degree in 1920 and a Master's degree in 1921.

Recognized in her time as a progressive educator, Baker was listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Education, Who’s Who Among College Presidents, American Women, and Principal Women of America.

Baker was the author of several books, including The Beginner’s Book in Religion, Parenthood and Child Nurture, Kindergarten Method in the Church Schools, The Worship of the Little Child, and A Child is Born.

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