Reader's Encyclopedia

Adler, Felix (1851 - 1933)

German - born American educator and leader in social welfare. Adler came to America as a youth, graduated from Columbia (1870), and pursued further studies in Germany. He founded the New York Society of Ethical Culture in 1876, from which a worldwide Ethical Culture movement later developed. The society emphasized the need for a stronger morality (apart from any single theological dogma) in all personal, professional, and political relationships and placed great importance on the moral education of children. Adler established the first free kindergarten for New York City's poor, which later grew into the first vocational school that combined manual training and ethical instruction in its curriculum. In 1884 Adler helped to establish the first Tenement House Commission; he arranged for trained nurses to visit the poor, lobbied for parks and playgrounds in depressed urban areas, and served for a time as chairman of the National Child Labor Committee. Adler advanced his views in such books as The Moral Instruction of Children (1892), An Ethical Philosophy of Life (1918), and The Reconstruction of the Spiritual Ideal (1923).

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