Ruth McGrath (c. 1909-2004)Associate Professor / Director of the Nursery School
Graduate School of Education
Years at UB: 1932-1979
University Archives collection: 17/F/461
Ruth Ehrig McGrath, of the Graduate School of Education, served at UB for more than forty years, as both an administrator and as an instructor of pre-school and graduate students. Her interest in early childhood education took her around the world; she visited preschool programs in 43 countries, throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and the Caribbean. McGrath passed away January 26, 2004, at the age of 95.
McGrath graduated from Buffalo State Teacher’s College with a B.S. in Home Economics in 1930, a subject she taught for the next two years in Corning, New York. In 1932, she started work as a teacher at UB’s Early Childhood Research Center before becoming Chair of the Nursery School in 1949, a position she held for ten years.
McGrath also taught courses on early childhood education in the School of Education, beginning in 1945 as a lecturer and becoming an Assistant Professor in 1950, the same year she earned her master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from UB. Three years later, McGrath obtained her doctoral degree in Education Administration, also from UB. In 1959 McGrath was promoted in both her roles, to the position of Director of the Nursery School and to the rank of Associate Professor—positions she held until her retirement in 1979.
McGrath was an invited speaker to many conferences and the author of several books, including Tools, Wood and Glue: An Invitation to Grow (1976), Cooking With Children (1969), and Developing Concepts of Safety in Early Childhood (1977). In addition, McGrath contributed to several journals in her field, among them Nursery Education and New York State Education.
McGrath’s professional activities revolved around her expertise in early childhood education. She served as program director of Project Head Start and the New York State Association for Nursery Education (NYSANE). McGrath also served as president of the Early Childhood Education Council of Western New York, the New York State Council for Children and New York State Association for the Education of Young Children. She also consulted for organizations such as the Audubon Urban Development Program, the American Cancer Association, and the Kindergarten Planning Committee of Western New York.