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Women’s History Month – Katherine Lee Bates

March 1, 2017

In honor of Women’s History Month, we wanted to share a blog featuring the author of “America the Beautiful” Katherine Lee Bates.

“America the Beautiful” first appeared in print in 1895. Katherine Lee Bates (1859-1929) wrote the poem in 1893. She wrote a second version in 1904 and the final version in 1913.

Katherine Lee Bates 1859-1929

Katharine Lee Bates was born in Falmouth, Massachusetts on August 12, 1859. In 1880, she graduated from Wellesley College where she taught from 1886 -1925. She wrote books of poetry and books about her travels around the world. She also enjoyed writing stories for children. Miss Bates loved animals and often had her picture taken with her collie, Hamlet, and her parrot, Polonius. She retired in 1925 and died four years later on March 28, 1929.

In the summer of 1893, Miss Bates was teaching at Colorado College. She joined a group of teachers one afternoon on a trip to the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, Colorado. When she reached the top of the mountain, she was inspired by the beautiful view to write the first four verses of her poem. She wrote in her journal:

“One day some of the other teachers and I decided to go on a trip to 14,000-foot Pikes Peak. We hired a prairie wagon. Near the top we had to leave the wagon and go the rest of the way on mules. I was very tired. But when I saw the view,  I felt great joy. All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse.”

Lesson Plan Ideas:

  • Define: spacious, amber, majesties, grace, brotherhood
  • Who wrote the poem America the Beautiful?
  • Where was the poem first written?
  • What beautiful things are described in the poem?
  • What does “God shed his grace on thee” mean?
  • What does “from sea to shining sea” mean?

Activity: America’s Heritage: An Adventure in Liberty. Unit 10: America the Beautiful. pp. 163-166. ES.

This unit is available to download from the Member Resources at www.americanheritage.org.

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Published by: The Founding

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