Patty Smith Hill
Nearly everyone knows the tune "Happy Birthday to You." Some people even realize that the song is protected by copyright, and any commercial use requires paying royalties. But most people don't know about the women behind the song.
Patty Hill was born March 27th, 1868, in Kentucky. The middle of three sisters, she and her siblings were taught to advocate for others. They were also told by their father that it was "a tragedy for women to marry for a home" and to value their education. Patty took these lessons to heart, and was her class valedictorian at the Louisville Collegiate Institute.
Patty is best known for co-writing the song for "Good Morning to All" with her older sister Mildred, writing the lyrics while Mildred penned the melody. The song was written to welcome children to class each day, and was first published in Song Stories for the Kindergarten in 1893. It became far better known as the melody of "Happy Birthday to You," which first appeared in print in 1912, and gained popularity over the years, though the Hill sisters only gained credit for writing the song in 1935 after a series of court cases.
Beyond co-writing "Happy Birthday to You," Patty was a leader in the progressive education movement. She was also an advocate of the educational practices that are now known as Kindergarten. Additionally, in 1924 at Columbia University Teachers College, she helped to create the Institute of Child Welfare Research. Though we may best know her as the co-writer of one of the most popular songs of all time, her memory lives on in every Kindergarten classroom in America.