Frank Pierrepont Graves

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Frank P. Graves
Picture of Frank Pierrepont Graves.jpg
3rd Commissioner of Education of the State of New York
In office
Preceded by John H. Finley
Succeeded by Ernest E. Cole
Personal details
Born (1869-07-23)July 23, 1869
Brooklyn, New York
Died September 13, 1956(1956-09-13) (aged 87)
Albany, New York
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Helen Hope Wadsworth
Profession Educator

Frank Pierrepont Graves (July 23, 1869 - September 13, 1956)[1][2] was Commissioner of the New York State Education Department from 1921 to 1940.[3] Prior to assuming the commissionership, Graves was a noted historian of education, college administrator, and author.

Early life and education[edit]

The New York State Department of Education building, Albany.

Graves was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1869. He was educated in the Brooklyn Public schools, and attended Columbia University, earning a Ph.D. in Greek. He gained membership in Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Delta Kappa, and Phi Beta Phi. In 1895, he married Helen Hope Wadsworth.[4]

Academic career[edit]

Graves taught Greek at Columbia for two years and at Tufts College for five. He later became president of the State University of Wyoming for two years, and president of the University of Washington for five years. Both institutions quadrupled their enrollment during his tenure.[5]

This experience heightened Dr. Graves' interest in the history of education; and so he returned to Columbia and earned another Doctorate, this time in Education. Graves went on to become professor of the History of Education at the University of Missouri, Ohio State University, and the University of Pennsylvania, over a period from 1904 to 1921. During this time he also taught at the University of Wisconsin, the University of Chicago, and at Columbia.[6]

Commissioner in New York[edit]

Graves became Commissioner of the New York State Education Department in 1921, and held that post under six governors, for nearly two decades. Under his tenure, the state took major steps in rural school consolidation, an important, if often very controversial, endeavor. Graves is the longest-serving commissioner in the history of the department to date. After his retirement, he passed the bar exam in 1943. By the end of his career, Graves held 43 academic degrees.[7]

Selected Publications[8][edit]

Low Memorial Library at Graves' alma mater, Columbia University.
  • Burial Customs of the Greeks, (Columbia University)
  • A History of Education Before the Middle Ages, (MacMillan)
  • A History of Education During the Middle Ages, (MacMillan)
  • A History of Education in Modern Times, (MacMillan)
  • Great Educators of Three Centuries, (MacMillan)
  • Peter Ramus and the Educational Renaissance of the Sixteenth Century, (MacMillan)
  • A Student's History of Education, (MacMillan)
  • What Did Jesus Teach?, (MacMillan)


  1. ^ University of Washington biography,
  2. ^ Britannica Online,
  3. ^ New York State Education Department,
  4. ^ James Malcolom, ed., The New York State Red Book (Albany, NY: J.B. Lyon, 1928), pp. 173-174.
  5. ^ Malcolm, New York State Red Book, p. 173.
  6. ^ Malcolm, New York State Red Book, p. 173.
  7. ^ UW biography,
  8. ^ Malcolm, New York State Red Book, p. 173.