Elisabeth Antoinette Irwin (29 August 1880, Brooklyn, New York–16 October 1942, Manhattan, age 62) was the founder of the Little Red School House. She was an educator, psychologist, reformer, and declared lesbian, living with her life partner Katharine Anthony and the two children they adopted.
In 1912 while a member of the staff of the Public Education Association, she began work at revising the curriculum for the children at Public School 64. She founded the Little Red School House curriculum, in Manhattan in 1921, in the red-painted annex of Public School 61. Her work there, and then at Public School 41, a New York Times article describes as an experiment to demonstrate that "...the broader, more active program of the so-called progressive schools could be carried out under public school conditions."
Faced with funding cuts, it appeared the experiment would end, but a group of parents came together in an ice cream parlor, urging her to start her own school and promising financial support. In September 1932 the "Little Red School House" got its own building at Bleecker Street. At first only primary education was available, but in 1940 a high school was added.