Montessori education has had a long career in America, and today it is more popular than ever. However, it has had a tumultuous history on American soil, full of ups and downs. This I.S. examines the rise of Montessori in the United States in the early 1900s, the fall and ultimate disappearance of the Montessori method by 1920, and the resurgence and continuance of Montessori in the United States that began in the mid 1950s and still holds strong today. How should we explain the changing success of Montessori in America? Most scholars on the history of American Montessori have emphasized the importance of leadership for Montessori in America. Some have emphasized the role of institutions, such as the founding of the American Montessori Society (AMS). Others have examined the importance of educational trends. I address the question through an analysis of press discussions of Montessori, influential books that discussed the Montessori method, and the publications of the AMS. I argue that the reception of Montessori in the United States was the product of both internal and external factors. A need for richer options for early childhood education in America first brought Montessori to the United States, but a lack of organization and leadership meant that this success would be short-lived. New leadership and new organizations, in particular Nancy McCormick Rambusch and the AMS, brought Montessori back to prominence in the 1960s and after. New ideas about early childhood development in the 1970s contributed to Montessori’s success and staying power in America.


Shaya, Gregory




Other History


Montessori, Education History

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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