Alabama Women's Hall of Fame

Maud McKnight Lindsay (1874-1941)

Maud McKnight Lindsay

Maud McKnight Lindsay, teacher, writer, and philanthropist, was the founder of the first free kindergarten in Alabama. Born in Tuscumbia, Alabama, daughter of Robert Burns Lindsay and Sarah Miller Winston, she is known nationally and internationally for her contributions to education and literature.

Early in life, Maud Lindsay decided to become a kindergarten teacher and studied under Mrs. Jeanne Pettit Cooper, who conducted a private kindergarten in her Tuscumbia home. In 1898, Maud departed her socially acceptable role as a music teacher of a private kindergarten and became principal and teacher of the first free kindergarten in East Florence, Alabama. To do so, she crossed the lines of social class, as well as the boundary of the river that divided the tri-cities of Alabama. She remained in that position for over forty years, ignoring lines of separation in geography and culture.

The uniquely wholesome atmosphere at the free kindergarten was shaped by song and narrative. As a result, sixteen books for children were later published. Her first book, Mother Stories, was published in 1900 by Milton Bradley Company and was quickly followed by More Mother Stories. Thirteen school readers included stories from these two books. Maud Lindsay's writing of children's stories continued until her death in 1941.

Invitations to lecture around the United States, and the publication of her books and articles here and abroad, reflect the high esteem in which she was held during her lifetime. She, who had no college education, often instructed college professors, teaching them the art of storytelling during a summer lecture at New York University. Miss Maud received requests and offers to abandon her free kindergarten in East Florence and to accept positions elsewhere. Always firmly saying, "My place is in Alabama," she refused all offers including a position with Madame Montessori in her school in Italy.

Her childhood playmate and lifelong friend, Helen Keller, described Maud Lindsay as "one of the truly progressive women of the southland," an example of "Alabama's true wealth and greatness," who "put her whole mind and will to work to bring good teaching within the reach of every child in Alabama."


Lindsay, Maud McKnight. The Amazing Adventures of Ali. Boston: Lothrop & Shepard Company, 1931.

----. The Choosing Book. Boston: Lothrop & Shepard Company, 1928.

----. Christmas Plays…. Chicago: The Pilgrim Press, 1927.

----. The Joyous Guests. Boston: Lothrop Lee, & Shepard Company, 1921.

----. Mother Stories. Springfield: M. Bradley Company, 1900.

----. Posey and the Peddler. Boston: Lothrop, Lee, & Shepard Company, 1938.

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Alabama Women's Hall of Fame