Ella Flagg Young

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Circa 1910
Circa 1914

Ella Flagg Young (15 January 1845 – October 26, 1918) was an American educator.


She was born in Buffalo, New York to Theodore and Jane (Reed) Flagg in 1845. She didn't attend school until the age of ten, after teaching herself how to read and write at age 10. After only a few months she dropped out because she wasn't being intellectually challenged and the lack of support from her parents. At age 15 Ella took the certification examination to become a teacher and passed but was told she was too young to be a teacher. She was so intelligent that she received her masters at age 15. Ella was told she would never make it as a teacher by her mother but persevered on decided to set up her own practicum to test her potential in the classroom. Ella decided the classroom was right for her and she graduated in 1862 from the Chicago Normal School. She later studied at the University of Chicago under John Dewey at age 55 and received her Ph.D. in 1900.

She was married to William Young in 1868. They had no children together, and William died when she was 27 years old. Her parents and brother and sister had already died leaving her with no close relatives. She devoted her life to her teaching career, which spanned 53 years (1862–1915). She became superintendent of schools in Chicago in 1887; professor of education in the University of Chicago in 1899; principal of the Chicago Normal School in 1905; and was superintendent of schools of Chicago from 1909 until her resignation in 1915. She served on the Board of Education for the State of Illinois from 1888 to 1913. She was the first woman in America to head a large city school system.

In 1910–1911, the membership of the National Education Association elected her its first woman president. Young also identified strongly with the women's suffrage movement. She was the school superintendent who during the 1911 spring break requested all schoolchildren in the Chicago area to organize neighborhood searches for five-year-old Elsie Paroubek, who had disappeared April 8 of that year. She died in the 1918 flu pandemic, on October 26, 1918, at age 73 .[1]


The University of Illinois conferred on her the degree of LL.D.


  • Isolation in the School (1900)
  • Ethics in the School (1902)
  • Some Types of Modern Educational Theory (1902)

She also founded and edited The Educational Bi-Monthly, a free journal for teachers.

  • John T. McManis, biography (Chicago, 1916)

Eponymous school[edit]

The Chicago Public School system named an elementary school (K-8) in honor of Dr. Young in 1924. The school is located in the north Austin neighborhood and continues to be used as an elementary school.

The school is traditional masonry construction, with a central boiler heating system. In 1998, an addition was built to the school almost doubling the usable floorspace, and the masonry was renovated and the windows were glazed.

A view of the front of the school.

You can view other photos of the school as it currently exists on the reunion website of the 1968 class.


  1. ^ Blount, Jackie M. (2004) Fit to Teach, SUNY Press. p. 56. ISBN 0-7914-6267-6.
  • Biographical Dictionary of American Educators.

External links[edit]

Wikisource-logo.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainGilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "article name needed". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.