William Heard Kilpatrick was born on 20 November 1871 in White Plains, Georgia. He enrolled at Mercer University in 1888 and graduated with his BA degree in 1871. At Mercer's library, Kilpatrick came upon a copy of Darwin's Origin of the Species, which captured his interest and stimulated a lifelong interest in science. After graduation from Mercer, Kilpatrick enrolled in the graduate program at Johns Hopkins University. His graduate education was interrupted at the end of his first year, when he accepted a position as a teacher of algebra and geometry. In 1896 he accepted a position as Principal of Anderson Elementary School, and the following year he returned to Mercer University, having accepted an appointment as professor of mathematics and astronomy. At the end of his first year of teaching at Mercer, he enrolled in a summer school session at the University of Chicago, where he came under the influence of John Dewey. After teaching at Mercer until 1906, Kilpatrick enrolled in the graduate program at Columbia University Teachers College in 1907, and received his PhD in education in 1912.
From The Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers in Oxford Reference.