Harriet Earhart Monroe – Educator

Harriet Monroe

Harriet Monroe

Harriet Earhart Monroe was a lecturer, educator, writer, and traveling producer of religious stage plays. She was also well known for her work in Christian psychology and theology.

Harriet Earhart was born in Indiana, Pennsylvania, on August 21, 1842, the oldest of three children of Reverend David Earhart and Mary W. Patton Earhart. Private tutors educated her. Her father, a Lutheran minister, went to Kansas as a missionary in 1860.

Monroe lectured in large auditoriums from Boston, Massachusetts, to Omaha, Nebraska, and in the South Atlantic states. She was active in city gospel mission work, her church, and associated charities. She wrote a weekly letter to the Lutheran Observer in Philadelphia and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and favored women’s suffrage.

Monroe was a teacher in Atchison, Kansas, when the Civil War broke out, and she went to Clinton, Iowa, where she taught until the war ended. She then returned to Kansas and, in 1865, married A.Q. Monroe. Her only daughter, Mabel, died in infancy, and her only son, Eugene E., later became president of the Atchinson College Institute.

In 1870, thrown upon her own resources, she opened a private school in Atchison, which grew rapidly into the Atchinson College Institute with over 200 students in regular attendance. During her 13 years in that school, she had 2,621 students under her charge. In 1885, her health failed, and she was compelled to give up the school.

She then went to Washington, D.C., and, until 1887, served as a correspondent for several Western journals. Not liking the personal element of journalism, she decided to enter the lecture field. In that line of effort, she succeeded to a remarkable degree. From May 1888 to May 1891, she lectured 60 nights in Philadelphia, 69 nights in Pittsburgh, 16 nights in Washington D.C., and 25 nights in New York City and Brooklyn. Her lectures were on religious, artistic, war, temperance, personal, economic, and historical topics. They showed a range of reading and research. Her first book, Past Thirty, was published in 1878. Her Art of Conversation, published in 1889, found an extraordinary sale. She also wrote Twice Born Men in America, an article about the psychological impacts of rescue missions and homelessness in the United States.

Harriet Monroe Grave in Atchison, Kansas.

Harriet Monroe Grave in Atchison, Kansas.

She lectured before New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania teachers’ institutes. She visited Europe twice in the preparation of her lectures. Her observations of European school methods were published in various articles.

Her permanent home was in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania for 12 years, speaking and volunteering at the Sunday Breakfast Association.

Monroe was the paternal aunt of aviator Amelia Earhart. Harriet Monroe died in Washington, DC, on July 17, 1927, and is buried in the Mount Vernon Cemetery in Atchison, Kansas.

©Kathy Alexander/Legends of Kansas, updated February 2024.

Also See:

Atchison, Kansas

Atchinson College Institute

Education in Kansas

Historic People of Kansas


Blackmar, Frank W.; Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Vol I; Standard Publishing Company, Chicago, IL 1912.
Cutler, William G; History of Kansas; A. T. Andreas, Chicago, IL, 1883.
Kansas State Historical Society, The Columbian History of Education in Kansas, Hamilton Printing Company, Topeka, KS, 1893.