Ticknor, Anna Eliot (b. 1823)

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Ticknor, Anna Eliot (b. 1823)

American educator who founded Boston's Society to Encourage Studies at Home. Born Anna Eliot Ticknor in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1823; eldest daughter and one of four children (two of whom died in childhood) of George Ticknor (b. 1791, first professor of modern languages at Harvard and founder of the Boston Public Library) and Anna Eliot Ticknor (Mrs. George Ticknor, who hosted a famous literary salon); cousin of historian Samuel Eliot; never married; no children.

Though Anna Ticknor was no educational revolutionary, writes Jean Strouse , she was "original in trying to interest all classes of women in her program; she saw education as an enhancing of life rather than as training for a particular career, and she had more in mind than book-learning." An early pioneer in distance education, Ticknor was born in 1823 in Boston, the eldest daughter of George Ticknor, the first professor of modern languages at Harvard and founder of the Boston Public Library, and Anna Eliot , who hosted a famous literary salon.

Anna Eliot Ticknor founded Boston's Society to Encourage Studies at Home in 1873. From her headquarters in the library of the family home at Nine Park Street in Boston, she enlisted the help of over 200 Boston women to assist with the enterprise, including Elizabeth Cary Agassiz . The school offered instruction in 24 subjects organized within six departments: history, science, art, literature, French, and German. Many of her students were women, confined at home because of the conventions of a predominately patriarchal society. By the time the school closed down in 1887, it had taught 7,086 students from all social strata.

Ticknor, who never married, was a prolific letter writer and also authored the children's book An American Family in Paris, which was published anonymously in 1869. Additionally, she was instrumental in editing and publishing her father's letters and journals.


Life, Letters, and Journals of George Ticknor. Vol. I. Boston, MA: James R. Osgood and Co., 1876.

Tyack, David B. George Ticknor and the Boston Brahmins. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1967.