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National PTA History

For more than 100 years, National Parent Teacher Association (National PTA®) has worked toward bettering the lives of every child in education, health and safety. Founded in 1897 as the National Congress of Mothers by Alice McLellan Birney and Phoebe Apperson Hearst, National PTA is a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education.

Today’s PTA is a network of millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of family engagement in schools.

 

Legacy

Alice McLellan Birney and Phoebe Apperson Hearst founded the organization when women did not have the right to vote and social activism was not popular. However, they believed mothers would support their mission to eliminate threats that endangered children, and in early 1897, they started a nationwide campaign.

On Feb., 17, 1897, more than 2,000 people—mostly mothers, but also fathers, teachers, laborers and legislators—attended the first convocation of the National Congress of Mothers in Washington, D.C. Twenty years later, 37 chartered state congresses existed.

In 1970, the National Congress of Parents and Teachers (National PTA) and the National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers (NCCPT)—founded by Selena Sloan Butler in Atlanta, Ga.—merged to serve all children.

As the largest volunteer child advocacy organization in the nation, National PTA is the conscience of the country for children and youth issues. Through advocacy, as well as family and community education, National PTA has established programs and called for legislation that improves our children’s lives, such as:

  • Creation of Kindergarten classes
  • Child labor laws
  • Public health service
  • Hot and healthy lunch programs
  • Juvenile justice system
  • Mandatory immunization
  • Arts in Education
  • School Safety

Historical Timeline

Learn more about PTA’s rich history by visiting the Historical Timeline on the National PTA website.

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