(Mar. 27 or 29, 1839-Sept. 20, 1928). Born in Greene County, Ohio, Mary E. Nicholson attended Antioch College and College Hill Seminary for Young Ladies before moving to Indianapolis in 1867. She began her teaching career at the First Ward School, at Vermont and New Jersey streets (a parking lot for Lockerbie Marketplace in 2020). The following year, 1868, Nicholson began teaching at the new Indianapolis high school at Market Street and the Circle, the former home of the Second Presbyterian Church. In 1884, she became principal of the Indianapolis Normal School and held that position until 1909 when she resigned. In 1910, she became the first woman elected to the Indianapolis Board of School Commissioners, serving until 1914.

	 View of Public School no. 70, located at 46th and Central. An entrance to the two story brick building is shown. A smokestack can be seen in the background.
The Mary E. Nicholson Public School no. 70, located at 46th Street and Central Avenue, 1925 Credit: Bass Photo Co Collection, Indiana Historical Society View Source

Active in the National Education Association, Nicholson served as the group’s vice president in 1890 and 1891. She was a frequent contributor to the publication of the National Education Association, earning renown as a writer and lecturer. In honor of her more than 40 years of service with Indianapolis Public Schools, the school board named School No. 70 at Central Avenue and 46th  Street the Mary E. Nicholson School. Her home at 1233 Park Avenue often served as a gathering place for school leaders to engage in philosophical discussions. After retiring, Nicholson served on the board of directors of the John Herron Art Institute.

Revised February 2021

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