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Principia History


A mother. Two young boys. (Make that three, with a friend.) An earnest desire to promote children’s moral and spiritual progress alongside their academic growth—and a commitment to Christian Science.

From these seeds sprang the idea and institution that is Principia today.

Back in 1897, when Christian Science practitioner Mary Kimball Morgan began educating her two young sons at home, she wasn’t setting out to establish a school. Word spread quickly, however, among the thriving community of Christian Scientists in St. Louis, and by the next year 15 students were enrolled in “Mrs. Morgan’s school.”

Soon, the group moved from the Morgans' carriage house into a two-room storefront, and a second teacher was hired. Even more students started attending. And that's how—without fanfare, but with a firm foundation in the teachings of Christian Science—Principia officially began in 1898. Progress and growth followed quickly:

  • The first high school class graduated in 1906.
  • In 1910, the four-year program expanded to six years, resulting in one of the first junior colleges in the nation.
  • In 1934, Principia’s new four-year liberal arts college, established across the Mississippi River in Elsah, Illinois, graduated its first class.
  • By 1960, all levels of the School had moved to the current campus in St. Louis. 

Today, across both campuses, Principia enrolls hundreds of students from coast to coast in the U.S. and from many countries around the world.

Education at The Principia

The educational values and approaches that first prompted Mary Kimball Morgan to homeschool her sons and led, eventually, to the Principia of today are set forth in Education at The Principia, a collection of talks, letters, and other writings Morgan shared over the years. The volume has provided generations of students, parents, teachers, and administrators with practical, spiritually based insights into the great responsibilities and grand possibilities of education.  

The book addresses a range of subjects, including educational reforms, parenting, spiritual approaches to discipline, teacher-student relationships, and the development of character. Though some of the talks and writings date back more than 100 years, their message remains timely and relevant.