Maria Montessori was born in Chiaravalle (Ancona), Italy August 31, 1870. She graduated from technical school in 1886. After that she attended Regio Instituto Tecnico Leonardo da Vinci from 1886 to 1890. Just prior to graduating, Montessori shocked her family by stating that wanted to study biological sciences.
In 1892, she received a Diploma di licenza, which made her eligible to study medicine. The problem was that she was a woman. There is little on record about how she did it, but she persisted until she was accepted into the school. In Kramer’s biography it was mentioned that Pope Leo XIII helped Montessori somehow. It was incredibly shocking that a woman was accepted into the school during this time period.
In 1896 she was granted her doctorate of medicine. This made her the first woman to graduate from medical school in Italy.
Dr. Montessori began working in asylums, where she studied feeble-minded children. During this time she studied the treatment of special needs children and became a professor of anthropology at the University of Rome. In 1907 she was given the opportunity to study “normal” children. She gave up both her university chair and her medical practice to found the first Casa dei Bambini, or “Children’s House.” During this period she developed her innovative educational methods. These methods became very successful: learning-disabled children began to pass examinations designed for normal children. She believed that the children were teaching themselves; this belief inspired her lifelong pursuit of educational reform.
In 1913, she made her first visit to the United States. During that year, Alexander Graham Bell and his wife, Mabel, founded the Montessori Educational Association in Washington D.C. (Maria Montessori: A Brief Biography). Other American supporters were Thomas Edison and Helen Keller. In 1919, she founded a Montessori Center in London, now called the Maria Montessori Institute. In 1929 she founded the Association Montessori International in Denmark. Montessori then travelled to India on invitation by the Theosophical Society. She gave courses at various sites like Madras and Karachi and conducted her own school in Kodaikanal, for the duration of World War II. In 1938, she opened the Montessori Training Center in Laren, Netherlands. And in 1949, 1950, and 1951 she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize (Maria Montessori: A Brief Biography).
Montessori lived out the remainder of her life in the Netherlands. She died in Noordwijk aan Zee, her final resting place, on May 6, 1952.