Born 1 December 1833, Newburyport, Massachusetts; died 15 July 1887, Newburyport, Massachusetts
Daughter of John and Margaret Demmon Rand Andrews
Jane Andrews was born and raised in the midst of the vigorous nationalism of mid-19th century New England. She inherited from her family a spirit of intellectual concern and benevolence which, taken together with a broad outlook, led her to become one of the earliest proponents of internationalism in education. Andrews' school friends at the Newbury Massachusetts Putnam Free School and the State Normal School at West Newton, Massachusetts, included a sister-in-law of education reformer Horace Mann. Mann persuaded Andrews that she would find the kind of education she wanted at his new college, Antioch, where, subsequently, she was the first student to register. However, the onset of a neurological disorder described as "spinal affection" cut short her education in the middle of the first year and left her an invalid for the next six years. Nonetheless, Mann's influence reinforced her commitment to believing in one's responsibility to society, a commitment that influenced the direction of the teaching and writing she practiced during the remainder of her life.
In 1860, sufficiently recovered from her illness to work, Andrews founded a primary school in her home. This school, characterized by advanced educational methods including experiments, plays, games, and stories, was extremely successful and continued to be Andrews' focus for the next 25 years. In her school she cultivated observation, individual responsibility, and creative expression in the hope of molding responsible citizens for life in a society where all people were equal.
Andrews' first book, Seven Little Sisters Who Live on the Round Ball That Floats in the Air (1861), grew out of stories she created to supplement the geography lessons in her school. Each story focuses on a little girl in a different culture and emphasizes that although the external circumstances of life are very different for each child, each is happy and is one of God's family. The same motive held for the sequel, Each and All: Seven Little Sisters Prove Their Sisterhood (1877) and for a historical counterpart, Ten Boys Who Lived on the Road From Long Ago to Now (1886), which traces "our race from its Aryan sources to the present." Through these books, all of which emphasize the kinship of children throughout the world, Andrews hoped to offset the effect of books like Peter Parley's, in which children from other lands were characteristically made to look strange and unlike the children for whom the books were intended. The books also provided an alternative morality to that of the McGuffey readers which depicted virtue as being of personal rather than of social concern.
The Stories Mother Nature Told Her Children (1889) emphasizes the wonder of nature, and although Andrews tends at times to humanize nature and to moralize ("Mother Nature… is she to whom God has given the care of the earth… just as he has given to your mother the care of her family of boys and girls"), the stories in this volume and those collected in Only a Year and What It Brought (1888) and The Stories of My Four Friends (1900) reflect her close observation of nature and her excitement at its processes.
Geographical Plays for Young Folks at Home and School (1880). The Child's Health Primer (1885).
Green, N. K., A Forgotten Chapter in American Education: Jane Andrews of Newburyport (1961). Hopkins, L. P., foreword to Jane Andrews' Seven Little Sisters Who Live on the Round Ball That Floats in the Air (1897 ed.). Spofford, H. P., A Little Book of Friends (1916).
EngElemR (May 1936).
—KATHARYN F. CRABBE