"Happy Birthday to You"
Today, March 27, we celebrate the birthday of Patty Smith Hill, the woman who wrote the original lyrics of "Happy Birthday to You." Patty was born in Anchorage, Kentucky, the sister of Mildred J. Hill with whom she is credited as co-writer of the tune to the song initially entitled "Good Morning to All" as a song that young children would find easy to sing. During the 20th century, it became more popular as "Happy Birthday to You."
Patty and her sister Mildred wrote the song (Mildred wrote the tune; Patty wrote the original lyrics) while Mildred was a pianist and composer of songs and Patty was principal at the Louisville Experimental Kindergarten School. This kindergarten was an early experiment in modern educational methods, and was honored, along with the Hill sisters, at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893.
As an early childhood educator, Patty was a nursery and kindergarten principal in Louisville, Kentucky, developing various teaching methods at what is known as the Little Loomhouse. She was an authority and leader in the progressive education movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She developed the Patty Hill blocks, large enough for which children could create giant constructions. She founded the National Association Nursery Education (NANE), now the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC.) In 1924, she helped create the Institute of Child Welfare Research at Columbia University Teachers College.
The combination of melody and lyrics in "Happy Birthday to You" first appeared in print in 1912, and probably existed even earlier.
Patty Smith Hill died in New York on May 25, 1946, and buried in Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky. She never married. Both sisters were posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame on June 12, 1996.
Here's one "Happy Birthday" version.
Patty Hill. Youtube uploaded by Paul Michael. Accessed October 1, 2016.
Happy Birthday to you Patty Hill and Mildred J. Hill. Youtube, uploaded by MrMetallidude. Accessed October 2, 2016.
Patty Smith Hill Photo. Louisville / Louisville History Timeline. Accessed March 27, 2014.
"Patty Smith Hill". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Accessed March 27, 2014.
"Patty Smith Hill". New World Encyclopedia. Accessed March 27, 2014.
Latest updated: October 2, 2016.
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