Henry Turner Bailey
Henry Turner Bailey (1865-1931) was an artist, educator, writer and administrator who published and lectured prolifically on art, design, arts education, and art appreciation. As one of the earliest and most influential proponents of arts education in public schools, he worked to ensure that all children have access to arts education, and that children’s own experience and creation of art be valued as an essential part of their educational development.
Born in Scituate on December 9, 1865, Henry Turner Bailey was the eldest of seven children of Charles E. and Eudora (Turner) Bailey. He graduated Scituate High School as valedictorian in 1882. From 1883-1885 Bailey attended the Massachusetts Normal Art School, the nation’s first and only public college of art, now known as the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, or MassArt. The Massachusetts Normal Art School had opened in 1873 as a teachers college of art in response to a progressive mandate passed by the Massachusetts State Legislature in 1870 requiring all communities of 10,000 or more residents to include art instruction in their public school curriculum. Bailey would help to shape that instruction, serving as the first Supervisor of Drawing of Massachusetts from 1887-1903. During this period, he designed and had constructed Trustworth, his arts and crafts style home in Scituate (1888) and married Josephine M. Litchfield (1889). Henry and Josephine would raise five children at Trustworth.
The Scituate Historical Society’s edition of The Applied Arts Book, published by Henry Turner Bailey in 1903, represents the beginning of Bailey’s work, from 1903-1917, as founder and editor of School Arts Magazine, as the publication would come to be called. Through the magazine, Henry Turner Bailey’s theories of art instruction profoundly influenced educators. While the initial impetus to include drawing in public schools was to prepare students for futures in industrial work, Bailey saw learning to create and understand art as more than a useful skill. He felt experiencing and producing art was an essential component of life and spirituality. As a devout Christian, Bailey saw drawing from nature, in particular, as a means of observing and experiencing the hand of God. He was instrumental in ensuring that drawing from nature, rather than copying from plaster casts and other models, was accepted as worthy of instruction and credit in schools. Bailey’s 1925 book, The Tree Folk, which offers detailed illustrations and observations on the character of trees, is a testament to the importance he placed on observing nature, and the joy he found in communing with nature, especially the woods and shores of Scituate.
During his years as editor of School Arts Magazine, Henry Turner Bailey spent summers as Director of the Chautauqua School of Arts and Crafts in southwestern New York state from 1908-1917, and published Art Education: Its Aim and Method in 1914. Beginning in 1918, Henry Turner Bailey’s work led him to Cleveland, where he served as Dean of the Cleveland School of Art and Advisor and Lecturer to the Cleveland Museum of Art, until 1930. Here, Bailey was a proponent of providing firsthand learning experiences that remain relevant to today’s public schools, such as providing gardens in urban schools and fostering collaborations between schools and museums. He served the National Education Association as Chairman of the Joint Committee of School Museum Relations, and advocated for public school access to the arts through loan collections and reproduction traveling exhibitions. He was also the founding dean of the John Huntington Polytechnic Institute beginning in1918 and retired in 1930. Following his retirement from the Cleveland School of Art, Henry Turner Bailey returned to Scituate with the intention of continuing his writing and art. However, his work was cut short when he died unexpectedly on Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 1931, while on a lecture tour in Chicago, following a fall which had injured his knee as he sought to avoid an automobile.
In addition to his national influence on art and arts education, Henry Turner Bailey served his hometown of Scituate in numerous capacities, including: Surveyor of Lumber (1891-1896), a founder of Pierce Memorial Library (1894), Scituate Town Moderator (1895-97, 1899-1902, 1904-1912, 1914-1916), designer of the Scituate town seal (1900), a leader of Scituate’s First Baptist Church, and Scituate Parks Commissioner (1910, 1913, 1916). He authored eight books, published many pamphlets and lectured extensively both nationally and internationally. He was a six-time United States delegate to International Arts Congresses, and was awarded honorary doctorate from Denison University (1925) and Beloit College (1928).
Bailey, Henry Turner, “Art in the Schools,” Art and Progress, Oct., 1911, Vol. 2, No. 12 (Oct., 1911), pp. 354-358.
Beaton, Eleanor Hyde. The Contributions of Henry T. Bailey to Art Education. 1945, Boston University School of Education, Masters Degree.
Gaede, Jean Bailey. Yankee Convictions: The Life and Times of Henry Turner Bailey, “The Cheerful Dean” 2013
John Huntington Fund for Education. Accessed July 2023 <OUR STORY — THE JOHN HUNTINGTON FUND FOR EDUCATION>
A Selection of Henry Turner Bailey Works Available Online
This Scituate Historical Society Collections Highlight connects with the following Massachusetts State Curriculum Frameworks:
Arts and Communication Services | Design and Visual Communications
Technical Knowledge and Skills | Content Creation Skills
VAC.VDVC.2.D.01.01 Examine the history of illustration, graphic design and art.
VAC.VDVC.2.D.01.02 Demonstrate various illustration styles.
VAC.VDVC.2.D.01.03 Maintain a sketchbook.
Visual Arts Responding
7-8.V.R.07 Perceive and analyze artistic work. Analyze elements of a work that are indicative of the historical or cultural context in which it was created.
7-8.V.R.08 Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work. Explain how an artistic work was influenced by the culture or historical context in which it was created.
7-8.V.R.11 Relate artistic ideas and works to societal, cultural and historical contexts to deepen understanding. Identify visual ideas from a variety of cultures connected to different historical populations.