Katherine Augusta Westcott Tingley (1847-1929)

katherinetingleyBorn July 6, 1847, at Newbury, Massachusetts, Catharine Augusta Westcott was educated in the Newburyport schools and by private tutors. In 1888 she married Philo B. Tingley, her third husband.

In the early 1890s on New York City’s East Side she set up soup kitchens and emergency relief missions, and later she established philanthropic organizations for orphaned children, unwed mothers, and destitute families.

Katherine Tingley joined the Theosophical Society on October 13, 1894, and worked closely with its president William Q. Judge, who died in 1896, just short of his 45th birthday.

Shortly after his death, she was recognized as his successor by those closest to him. She traveled worldwide, establishing schools in several countries, emphasizing practical humanitarianism, education, prison reform, and world peace. In 1900, she moved the international headquarters to Point Loma where she established the Raja-Yoga School and College, Theosophical University, and the School for the Revival of the Lost Mysteries of Antiquity. Tingley built the first open air Greek Theater in America, and formed youth and adult symphony orchestras with the headquarters staff and students.

An important feature of the Raja-Yoga School was the inclusion of music, drama, and the arts as integral parts of the regular curriculum, starting with three-year-olds — all students, with or without talent, learned to play an instrument, sang in the choir, took drawing and painting, and participated in some form in the dramatic work, all being early exposed to the Greek and Shakespearean dramas that were performed under the personal direction of Katherine Tingley in the open-air Greek Theater erected by her in 1901.

Katherine Tingley died July 11, 1929, at the age of 82 while on a European lecture tour. After she died, the school continued for a few more years before closing in 1942. California Western University (later, U.S. International University) subsequently occupied the site, followed by Point Loma Nazarene College.

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