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May 14: The Mother of Art Therapy

May 14, 2014
IMGProgressive educator Margaret Naumburg was born in New York on this date in 1890. As a student at Barnard, Naumburg roomed with Evelyn Dewey, studied with John Dewey, and headed the college’s Socialist Club. In Europe, she studied economics at the London School of Economics, the Delcroze method of music with Alys Bently, and child education with Maria Montessori. She returned to New York in 1914 and led a Greenwich Village life with her husband (for eight years) Waldo Frank, the novelist and critic. That same year, Naumburg opened the first Montessori school in the U.S., at the Henry Street Settlement House, and a year later she founded a school based on her own educational philosophy, the still-thriving Walden School, also in New York, which began as a nursery school and graduated its first class in 1928. The school used Freudian psychoanalysis as a foundation and used music and art extensively to stimulate children’s originality and passion. In the 1930s, Naumburg pioneered the field of art therapy, and greatly enlarged it through her books and lectures during the next three decades. Naumburg lived to 92. ”The purpose of this school is not merely the acquisition of knowledge by children. Its primary objective is the development of their capacities.” -Margaret Naumburg