Birney, Alice McLellan (1858–1907)

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Birney, Alice McLellan (1858–1907)

American founder and first president of the National Congress of Mothers, which later became the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA). Born Alice McLellan Birney in Marietta, Georgia, on October 19, 1858; died in Chevy Chase, Maryland, on December 20, 1907; attended Mt. Holyoke Seminary, South Hadley, Massachusetts, for one year (1875).

In 1897, Alice McLellan Birney, a former child-welfare worker, was a founding member and the first president of the National Congress of Mothers, which convened in Washington, D.C. According to Birney, the goal of the organization was to unite the forces of home, school, and community in recognizing "the supreme importance of the child." Within two years, the organization had grown in membership to 50,000. Ill health forced Birney to resign her post in 1902, but she went on to write Childhood, a book on child rearing. A year after her death in 1908, her organization was renamed the Parent-Teacher Association.