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George Henry Richmond

Died: August 23, 2004

George Henry Richmond was born on October 28, 1944, in New York City, the son of George Henry Richmond, Jr., and Claudius Gallagher Richmond.

George was raised by his mother in severe poverty, growing up in a sixth floor, bathroom-in-the hallway, bathtub-in-the-kitchen, walk-up on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. By the age of twelve he was drawing huge crowds playing chess with the “masters” in Washington Square Park. In 1960 he won a scholarship to an international summer camp in the Catskills for youth from disadvantaged backgrounds.

George attended the High School of Music and Art, New York City. While at Music and Art, George won the prestigious David Epstein Award, which brought him to the attention of one of the leading art critics in the nation, the New York Times art editor, John Canaday, who devoted a Sunday column to his work.

Entering Yale in September, 1962, George was a history of art major and a member of Ezra Stiles College, where he was art show director, a muralist and tapestry maker. He chaired the Yale Undergraduate Arts Center Committee and was a director of the Yale Charities Carnival at Dwight Hall. George was an active member of the Society of Friends and a member of Manuscript. While on full scholarship at Yale, Richmond supplemented his funds with earnings as a muralist and tapestry maker; many of his works hang in churches in Boston, in the dining hall at Ezra Stiles College at Yale, and in other public spaces.

In 1973 George earned his doctorate in education at Harvard and two years later his masters in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government.

A declared conscientious objector, George launched his career in education in 1966 when he became an elementary school teacher in the schools he had known as a child. It was in his first year of teaching that he devised the MicroSociety program. Frustrated by his fifth graders’ unwillingness to learn, he reasoned that if discipline could not engage children, perhaps freedom and responsibility would. This insight became the foundation for his doctoral thesis, The MicroSociety School: A Real World In Miniature, published by Harper and Row in 1973. In a review of the book, Peter Drucker wrote that it was “the most moving, the most touching, the most profound, the most optimistic, the most imaginative, and the most practical book on children and schools in many, many dreary years.”

Between 1970 and 1979 George established classroom micro-societies in New York and Hartford, Connecticut. In 1981 he helped launch the nation’s first school-wide MicroSociety in Lowell, Massachusetts.

In 1984 George met his wife Carolynn King, a Harvard and Villanova graduate with advanced degrees in education and law. Ms. King left her flourishing law practice to run The MicroSociety School Consortium in 1991.

Although George fell ill with Parkinson’s Disease, he was able to write and publish, with his wife, the 500 page MicroSociety Handbook in 1996 as well as a collection of poetry illustrated with his paintings entitled The Economics of Love. In 2004 George died of complications from cancer.