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Iowa History Daily: December 24 - Edith Sunderlin & "The Children's Hour"

Iowa History Daily: On December 24, 1901, Edith Marybell Sunderlin was born in Delmar, Iowa. The long time Iowa State College (now ISU) professor of Child Development,  endeared herself to a generation of Iowa’s kids as the host of WOI’s “The Children’s Hour.”

After moving to Ames as a child, Sunderlin graduated from Iowa State in 1924 before obtaining a Master’s degree from the University of Iowa in 1931. After a brief unpaid stint at Purdue University working in the developing field of Child Development, Sunderlin returned to Ames to work as a faculty member in the laboratory nursery school at Iowa State.

After an initial appearance on Martha Duncan’s WOI radio program where she read a children’s book, Iowa children started to know Sunderlin as the ‘storybook lady’ on the popularly branded “Iowa Public Radio.” By 1939, she appeared three times a week on her own program title “Storybook Hour.” In 1942, the daily feature program “The Children’s Hour” debuted.

Aside from the celebrity gained from the popular radio program, Sunderlin proved a pioneering force in Iowa State’s Child Development program. She placed great value in practical experience for children in education, and developed curriculum still in use at Iowa State decades after her departure. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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