Updated: Sep 9, 2021
Did you know that National PTA was originally organized as the National Congress of Mothers in 1897 and was the dream of Marietta, Georgia native Alice McLellan Birney? She was extremely sensitive to the needs of the less fortunate and aspired to build a better world for children.
In 1897, Mrs. Birney met Phoebe Apperson Hearst, who helped her transform her dream into reality. The two planned the first “convention”, that was held on February 17, 1897, in Washington D.C. They had hoped for an assembly of 200 mothers to discuss the plight of children. Imagine their surprise when over 2,000 showed up! And it wasn’t just mothers, but fathers, doctors, lawyers and legislators who came to express their concerns for children.
One of the first resolutions passed at the convention called for kindergarten in all public schools. Mrs. Hearst’s concern was for education of the very young; she realized early education could determine a child’s entire future. Mrs. Hearst had founded the first free kindergarten in 1883.
Selena Sloan Butler, also a Georgia native, founded and became the first president of The Georgia Colored Congress of Parents and Teachers (NCCPT). The NCCPT was formed to function in states that legally mandated segregation. The mission of the National Congress of Parents and Teachers was to protect the rights of all children irrespective of color…Mrs. Butler believed more needed to be done. She dedicated her life to forming an organization with the primary purpose of uniting home and school into a planned program for child welfare. The two organizations, National Congress of Mothers and NCCPT ultimately united as one in the National PTA.
Throughout the its history of over 100 years, PTA has advocated for numerous issues ranging from sex education (1897), child labor laws (1900s), automobile and school bus safety (1930s), founding the school lunch program (1940s), field testing the polio vaccine (1950s), toy safety (1960s), opposing violence on television (1970s), HIV/AIDS education (1980s) to developing National Standards for Parent/Family Involvement programs (1990s). These issues represent only a small sampling of the advocacy efforts of the PTA.
The reason PTA was founded is still the same reason it exists today…children need us. We urge you to join other PTA members throughout the state of Georgia as we continue the work begun by our founders over one hundred years ago. Lend your voice to our voice – collectively we can make an immeasurable difference for all children.