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Holt, John Caldwell, 1923-1985 | Boston Public Library Archival and Manuscript Finding Aid Database

Name: Holt, John Caldwell, 1923-1985

Historical Note: John Caldwell Holt was born on April 14, 1923 in New York City to Henry and Elizabeth (Crocker) Holt.  The oldest of three children, he was raised in New England and attended private schools.  Holt graduated from Yale University and joined the United States Navy, serving on the USS Barbero (SS-317) during World War II.  After the war, Holt joined the United World Federalists, an organization which advocated a single world government as a means of preventing nuclear war.  Holt served as the executive director of the UWF’s New York branch until 1952.  After leaving the UWF, Holt traveled in Europe for two years, moved to Colorado, and eventually settled in Boston, MA.  Holt taught in private schools in Colorado and Massachusetts before renouncing the traditional education system and turning his focus to alternative education, home schooling, and youth rights.  He published his first book, How Children Fail, in 1964, which was followed by How Children Learn in 1967.  He went on to publish six other books on education, including What Do I Do Monday? (1970) and Instead of Education (1976), as well as Growing Without Schooling (1977-1985), the first American magazine about home schooling.  In 1969, Holt founded a consulting firm for home schooling families, Holt Associates, Inc., of which he was president until his death.  He was a visiting lecturer at Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley, and lectured both nationally and internationally.  Holt was an amateur musician and wrote about his experiences as a self-taught cellist in Never Too Late: My Musical Life Story (1979).  In addition to education and music, Holt had a strong interest in politics, pacifism, the environment, agriculture, and technology.  Holt died on September 14, 1985 in Boston.

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