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Margaret Naumburg

NAUMBURG, MARGARET (1890–1983), U.S. psychoanalyst, art therapist, and educator. Born in New York, Naumburg graduated from Barnard College, Columbia University. She then studied speech therapy with F. Matthias Alexander at the London School of Economics and child education with Maria Montessori in Rome. Influenced by Freud's theories, Naumburg maintained that the child was an individual with his own inner life and needs and that education should serve the child, and not the child education. In 1913, she founded and conducted the first Montessori class in New York City at the Henry Street Settlement. A year later she launched her own school, the Walden School, based on the importance of the personal relationship between pupils and teachers. She was a pioneer in art education and in the use of art for therapeutic purposes. From 1930 on, she concerned herself primarily with developing art therapy technique and moved away from progressive education. She devoted much of her life to the establishment of art therapy as a discipline. Naumburg taught at New York University into her eighties. She initiated art therapy instruction there at the undergraduate level. A graduate program for art therapy was instituted in 1969.

Naumburg's methods were disseminated by exhibitions at meetings of the American Psychiatric Association and at international psychiatric congresses. Naumburg's books include The Child and the World (1928); Studies of the "Free" Art Expression of Behavior Problem Children and Adolescents as a Means of Diagnosis and Therapy (1947); Schizophrenic Art: Its Meaning in Psychotherapy (1950); Psychoneurotic Art: Its Function in Psychotherapy (1953); and Dynamically Oriented Art Therapy (1966).


Walden School, The Walden Story (1954); Walden School, Walden School on Its 50th Anniversary (1964).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.