Image of Helen Ekin Starrett


Lifetime: 1840 - 1920 Passed: ≈ 103 years ago


Educator, Author, Suffragette


United States

Helen Ekin Starrett

Helen Ekin Starrett was an American educator, author, suffragette, and magazine founder. Long engaged in educational work in Chicago, she founded the Kenwood Institute (1884), and Mrs. Starrett's Classical School for Girls (1893), of which she was principal. Starrett also founded Western Magazine (1880–83, Chicago); served as president of the Illinois Woman's Press Association, 1893–1894; and was the author of several works.

Helen Martha Ekin was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, September 19, 1840. She was the daughter of Rev. John and Esther Fell (Lee) Ekin. She was educated at Pittsburg High School.

Starrett was the founder of Kenwood Institute, Chicago, before serving as Principal of Mrs. Starrett's Classical School for Girls, a co-operative with the University of Chicago. This school occupied a colonial home, surrounded by 2 acres (0.81 ha) of lawn. Ten resident pupils were received in the family of the Principal. Day pupils were limited in number to 100. Its certificate admits to Vassar College, Wellesley College, Smith College, as well as to the University of Chicago.

In 1915, she was appointed one of the 100 electors who each five years decided on additions to the list of eminent Americans who would be included in the Hall of Fame established in 1900 by New York University. Starrett and Ida M. Tarbell were the only women who were added to the list of electors at that time. A delegate to the first U.S. woman suffrage convention (1870) and the last (1920), Starrett was the only surviving member of the pioneer suffragettes who first focused public opinion by means of a general convention on the campaign for women's votes.

Starrett was a contributor to magazines, such as The Continent a Presbyterian publication from McCormick Publishing Company, as well as educational and religious journals. She was the author of Future of Educated Women, 1880: Letters to a Daughter, 1882; Letters to Elder Daughters, 1883; Gyppie, an Obituary, 1884; Pete, the Story of a Chicken, 1885; Letters to a Little Girl, 1886; andCrocus and Wintergreen, poems (with her sister, Frances Ekin Allison).

Published by Jansen, McClurg & Co., Chicago, The Future Of Educated Women, by Helen Ekin Starrett; and Men, Women And Money, by Frances Ekin Allison, were bound together in one book. The former and larger essay was the more mature of the two, and, although not altogether free from haste and opinionatedness, it had the merit of a point of view. The author discussee the matter of self-support and independence, and that however urgent such may be, they are reduced to insignificance by the necessity of women finding a means of expression for the spiritual growth that takes place in them. She also spoke about labor, like virtue, may be its own reward; and from professional and other means of expressing the fullness of human nature, certainly no one should be debarred. The second essay, by Frances Ekin Allison, is thought out on a lower key, and referenced the independence that a woman feels when she has a source of income in her own right.

On February 15, 1864, she married Rev. William A. Starrett. She died December 16, 1920, in Portland, Oregon.

Books by Helen Ekin Starrett

Letters to a Daughter and A Little Sermon to School Girls Cover image

Letters to a Daughter and A Little Sermon to School Girls

Philosophy Non-Fiction Psychology
Habits Society Aims Human Behaviors

Helen Ekin Starrett, journalist, mother of two daughters, grandmother of seven granddaughters and teacher to many young girls at the Starrett School for Girls offers lessons in life and religion to girls about to "pass out from the guardianship of ho...