Bates, Katharine Lee(American, 1859-1929)
Katharine Lee Bates is remembered as the author of the words to the anthem America the Beautiful. Bates was born in Falmouth, Massachusetts and lived as an adult on Centre Street in Newton, Massachusetts. A historic plaque marks the site of her home. The daughter of a Congregational pastor, she graduated from Wellesley College in 1880 and for many years was a professor of English literature at Wellesley. While teaching there, she was elected a member of the newly formed Pi Gamma Mu honor society for the social sciences because of her interest in history and politics for which she also studied. She lived at Wellesley with Katharine Coman, who herself was a history and political economy teacher and founder of the Wellesley College Economics department. The pair lived together for 25 years until Coman's death in 1915.
The first draft of America the Beautiful was hastily jotted in a notebook during the summer of 1893, which Bates spent teaching English at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The words to her one famous poem first appeared in print in The Congregationalist, a weekly journal, for Independence Day, 1895. The poem reached a wider audience when her revised version was printed in the Boston Evening Transcript, November 19, 1904. Her final expanded version was written in 1913.
The hymn has been sung to other music, but the familiar tune that Ray Charles (1930-2004) delivered is by Samuel A. Ward (1847–1903), written for his hymn Materna(1882).
Bates was also a prolific author of many volumes of poetry, travel books, and children's books. Her family home on Falmouth's Main Street is preserved by the Falmouth Historical Society. There is also a street named in her honor, "Katharine Lee Bates Road" in Falmouth.
Bates has two schools named in her honor, the Katharine Lee Bates Elementary School, located on Elmwood Road in Wellesley, Massachusetts and the Katharine Lee Bates Elementary School, located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The latter was founded in 1957.
Katharine Lee Bates died in Wellesley, Massachusetts, on March 28, 1929, age 69 and was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 1970.

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