University of Chicago Library

Guide to the Francis Wayland Parker Papers 1857-1904

© 2006 University of Chicago Library

Descriptive Summary


Parker, Francis Wayland. Papers




1 box and 13 volumes


Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.


Francis Wayland Parker (1837-1902), Educator. The collection consists primarily of scrapbooks containing clippings of newspaper and magazine articles by and about Parker, and notices containing information on institutions, organizations, educational movements, and teaching methods with which he was associated. Also contains some manuscripts and correspondence.

Information on Use


No restrictions.


When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Parker, Francis Wayland. Papers, [Box #, Folder #], Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library

Biographical Note

Francis W. Parker [1837-1902], leading American educator, was called by John Dewey "more than any other person... the father of the progressive education movement." His teaching career, begun ca. 1857 was interrupted by the Civil War; by the end of the war Parker had attained the rank of lieutenant colonel and for the remainder of his life was known as "Colonel Parker." A $5,000 legacy enabled him to study at the Friedrich Wilhelms University in Berlin and to travel in Holland, Switzerland, Italy, and France, from 1872 to 1875 where he encountered the educational theories of Pestalozzi, Herbart, and Froebel. After returning to the United States, he was appointed superintendent of schools in Quincy, Massachusetts; here his educational innovations, labelled the "Quincy movement," made him a national reputation. In 1883, after several frustrating years in the Boston school system, Parker became principal of the Cook County Normal School in Chicago--an institution devoted to the training of elementary school teachers. Among the supporters of Parker's work in Chicago were Jane Addams, Rabbi Emil G. Hirsch, and Anita McCormack Blaine [Mrs. Emmons Blaine].

In 1899, Mrs. Blaine, in order to free Parker from the continual harassment of politicians and the school board, offered to endow a private school for Parker and his faculty; accordingly, in that year, the Chicago Institute was established. Land was purchased, architectual drawings for the proposed Institute were prepared, and temporary classes begun when William Rainey Harper proposed that the Chicago Institute join with the Department of Education to form the School of Education of the University of Chicago. The merger was to become official on July 1, 1901, and, at the June, 1901 Convocation, ground was broken for the School of Education Building, "Emmons Blaine Hall." At the same time, an elementary school "extension"--known as the Francis W. Parker School--was established on the North Side of the city for the benefit of the sizeable contingent of Chicago Institute pupils who resided there. Parker became Director of the School of Education, while John Dewey (at the University since 1894) remained Head Professor in the Department of Education in the Graduate Schools of Art, Literature, and Science. However, on March 2, 1902, Parker, who had been in ill-health since the beginning of the year, died at the age of 64. The trustees of the Chicago Institute recommended to the Board of Trustees of the University of Chicago that John Dewey be appointed as Parker's successor, and this was accordingly done.

Scope Note

The collection comprises one box of miscellaneous manuscripts and printed items, and a number of bound scrapbooks. The most noteworthy items in Box 1 are: two letters from the Boston Department of Public Instruction to Parker regarding his appointment as a school "supervisor" in 1880 and his resignation in 1882; brochures from schools at which Parker taught beginning with the Auburn Select School, Auburn, New Hampshire, in 1857 and concluding with the Chicago Normal School ca. 1899 [other items of interest in this folder include memorabilia from the Manchester, N.H. Centennial in 1851 and a clipping from the [Quincy?] Tribune, January 8, 1880 with the comment by Parker[?] or an associate, ["Kind of the Tribune to give us these little suggestions which are quite needed"]; printed materials on the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the Quincy Movement; letters of application and recommendation for positions on the faculty of the School of Education of The University of Chicago, most of which are addressed to Parker; notes of Col. Parker's nurse during his last illness and death, notes on the autopsy made by Drs. Holmes and Robertson, and measurements of Col. Parker's body; eulogy to Parker by Superintendent Lane of the Chicago School system; and, finally, letters of condolence from educators and teachers [among the correspondents is G. Stanley Hall, March 17, 1902.]

The Francis W. Parker scrapbooks contain clippings of newspaper and magazine editorials and articles by and about Parker, and notices containing information on institutions, organizations, movements, and methods with which he was associated or in which he was interested, e.g., the Quincy, Massachusetts grammar schools, the National University, Cook County Normal School, the Chicago Institute, the School of Education of The University of Chicago, and many articles on the "Quincy movement" and the "new education." The articles represent worldwide opinion covering the years 1873-1904; hundreds of journals and newspapers in this country and abroad are represented. Also contained in these scrapbooks are anniversary accounts, memorials, and obituary notices reviewing in detail Parker's contributions to education. Scrapbook 13 [1900-1904] contains miscellaneous newspaper clippings and brochures from or concerning schools which Parker attended or in which he taught, addresses given by Parker at school functions, meetings of literary societies of which he was a member, officer or speaker, and notices of academic honours received. Scrapbook 13 is wrapped together with a folio address book or guest register.

Related Resources

The following related resources are located in the Department of Special Collections:

Browse finding aids by topic.

Chicago Institute. Records

William Rainey Harper. Papers

Correspondence of the Secretary of the Board of Trustees, 1890-1913

Presidents' Papers, 1889-1925

Rollin D. Salisbury. Papers

Subject Headings


Series I: Miscellaneous and Scrapbooks

Box 1   Folder 1

Miscellaneous manuscripts

  • Receipt for $2,250, July 25, 1872
  • Reise-Erlaubniss-Schein, issued in Berlin, March 15, 1873
  • Correspondence, Phineas Bates to FWP, ALS, 1 p., March 24, 1880
  • PB to FWP, ALS, 1 p., Nov. 28, 1882
Box 1   Folder 2

Brochures and miscellaneous printed matter relating to schools with which F.W. Parker was associated ca. 1857-1899, from the Auburn Select School to the Chicago Normal School

Box 1   Folder 3

Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the Quincy Movement, April, 1900

Box 1   Folder 4

Correspondence ca. 1900-1901 to F.W. Parker and W.S. Jackman from persons seeking teaching positions at The School of Education, The University of Chicago

Box 1   Folder 5

Information on the last illness, death, and postmortum of Col. Parker

Box 1   Folder 6

Paper read by Supt. Lane at the funeral services for Col. Parker

Box 1   Folder 7

Letters of condolence, mostly addressed to W.S. Jackman

Series II: Scrapbooks

Volume 1


Volume 2


Volume 3


Volume 4


Volume 5


Volume 6


Volume 7


Volume 8


Volume 9


Volume 10


Volume 11


Volume 12


Volume 13