Julia K. Sommer

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Julia K. Sommer

Julia Katherine Sommer was an American Theosophist, educator, lecturer, and astrologer.

Early life and education

Miss Sommer was born in Heidelberg, Germany on December 15, 1873.[1][2] Her family immigrated to the United States in 1881.[3] She received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Chicago, and a Master of Arts degree from Columbia College [probably Columbia University in New York rather than Columbia College in Chicago].[4] She taught public school in Chicago, living in 1910 with her younger sister Catherine, who kept house, and her brother William [born Wilhelm], a draftsman.[5] She became a naturalized citizen of the United States on October 24, 1896 in Chicago.[6]

Julia K. Sommer in 1920

Theosophical work

Miss Sommer joined the Theosophical Society on December 12, 1904 in Chicago. By 1910 she was being praised by the Chicago Central Lodge for "a number of interesting and wonderfully helpful lectures on 'Ancient Wisdom.'"[7] From 1912 to 1919, she chaired the Chicago Theosophical Association, which was a federation of lodges.[8] By 1915 she had been elected as Recording Secretary of the American Theosophical Society under President A. P. Warrington. After a period of teaching in California, she returned to Chicago where she led a Saturday class in astrology following the scheduled public lectures.[9]

Her brother William was also a member of the society in Chicago in 1909, and intermittently until 1939.[10]

Miss Sommer hiking on Mt. Wilson in 1922

Educational work

In 1920 Miss Sommer moved to Hollywood, California, where she served as principal of the School of the Open Gate from 1920-1925. The school was operated by the Krotona Institute of Theosophy.

She served as president of the Theosophical Fraternity in Education for America.[11] In her capacity as Chairman of the Theosophical World-University Association in America, she edited Child Training: In the Light of Theosophy, which was compiled by Professor R. K. Kulkarni of the League of Parents and Teachers. In 1937, "The Ideals and Work of the World University Movement" was suggested as a topic in a Lodge Study Course, with Miss Sommer providing the curricular materials.

Later years

Around 1930 she moved to the Krotona Institute of Theosophy in Ojai, California.[12] She died on February 16, 1945 at a hospital in Los Angeles.[13] A service was conducted by Bishop Charles Hampton of the Liberal Catholic Church in Los Angeles, and was attended by Marie Poutz, Joy Mills, and other friends from the Krotona Institute of Theosophy. Books were donated, in lieu of flowers, to the Krotona Library and the Henry S. Olcott Memorial Library.[14] She never married.

Publications

Miss Sommer frequently wrote articles and book reviews. The Union Index of Theosophical Periodicals lists 36 articles by or about Julia K. Sommer. In addition, she wrote several books and pamphlets:

  • Child Training: In the Light of Theosophy. Wheaton, IL: The Theosophical Press, 1927. Julkarni, R. K., compiler, and Julia K. Sommer, editor.
  • The Dramatic Instinct: Its Place in Elementary Education. Chicago: Theosophical Fraternity in Education in America, 1925.
  • Educational Ideals.
  • Progressive Steps in Education; a Partial Report on the Second West Coast Conference on Progressive Education, a Consideration of the Problems There Discussed, and Historical Matter Pertinent Thereto. Rochester, N.Y., Henriette Posner, 1930.
  • When Were You Born? Or, The Prenatal Correction of a Horoscope (a Short-cut Method). Ojai, Calif: Theosophical World University in America, 1938.

Additional resources

Correspondence dated 1925-1935 from her work at the Theosophical World-University is in the Mary Anita Ewer Papers at the Cornell University Archives.[1]

Notes

  1. California death certificate.
  2. Charles Hampton, "Report of Services for Julia K. Sommer," Sidney A. Cook Papers. Records Series 08.05. Theosophical Society in America Archives.
  3. 1930 U.S. Census.
  4. The International Theosophical Year Book 1938 (Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1938): 214.
  5. U. S. Census, 1910 and 1920.
  6. Passenger list of S. S. Berlin. March 8, 1929. Sailing from Southampton to New York.
  7. "The Field" The Theosophic Messenger 11.8 (May, 1910), 500-501.
  8. The International Theosophical Year Book 1938 (Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1938): 214.
  9. "What Lodges Are Doing," The Messenger 14.7 (December, 1926), 157.
  10. Membership Ledger Cards microfilm roll 7. Theosophical Society in American Archives.
  11. "The School of the Open Gate," The Messenger 8.10 (March 1921), 632.
  12. 1930 and 1940 U.S. Census.
  13. California death certificate.
  14. Charles Hampton, "Report of Services for Julia K. Sommer," Sidney A. Cook Papers. Records Series 08.05. Theosophical Society in America Archives.