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Evelyn Wood (teacher)

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Evelyn Nielsen Wood January 8, 1909 – August 26, 1995 was an American educator and businessperson, widely known for coining the phrase speed reading and for creating a system to increase a reader's speed over the average reading rate of 250 to 300 words a minute by a factor of two to five times, while increasing retention The system was taught in seminars as Evelyn Wood Speed Reading Dynamics, a business Wood co-founded with her husband, Doug Wood, which ultimately had over 150 outlets in the United States


  • 1 Background
  • 2 Speed reading
  • 3 References
  • 4 External links


Evelyn Nielsen, the daughter of Elias and Rose Stirland Nielsen, was born in Logan, Utah in 1909 and grew up in Ogden, Utah She received a BA in English from the University of Utah in 1929 — later pursuing a master's degree in speech On June 12, 1929, she married Myron Douglas Doug Wood 1903–1987, son of William Wood, Jr and Ellen Sutton Goddard Wood – and student body president at the University of Utah Doug Wood grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah and earned a BA in business from the University of Utah in 1929 The couple had one daughter, Carol Davis Wood Evans of Tucson, AZ

Wood first began to study reading while she was a teacher and girls' counselor at Jordan High School in Sandy, Utah south of Salt Lake City Evelyn and Doug Wood created a speed reading business in 1959, Evelyn Wood Speed Reading Dynamics

In 1967, the Woods sold the business, Doug Wood continuing to serve as President until he retired in 1974 American Learning Corporation, a subsidiary of Encyclopædia Britannica, bought Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics in May 1986, and it was later sold in September 1993 to Pryor Resources, a business seminar training company in Kansas City, Kansas The business is currently owned by PARK University Enterprises, Inc

After two strokes, Wood died 26 August 1995 in Tucson, Arizona at age 86 Her papers are archived at the Utah State Historical Society

Speed reading

In her studies, Wood was capable of reading 2,700 words a minute, often sharing the traits of reading down the page rather than left to right, reading groups of words or complete thoughts rather than single words, avoiding involuntary rereading of material and applying their efficiency to varied material After discovering that faster readers were also more effective readers, she began developing her programs, ultimately developing a methodology of using a finger or pointer to trace lines of text while eliminating sub-vocalizing reading under one's breath or aloud in one's head

Her book Reading Skills was published in 1959 and she and her husband subsequently started the Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics business Classes were heavily advertised on television in the 1960s and '70s; Steve Allen was one of the highest-profile celebrity endorsers Until the late 1990s her classes were taught on college campuses in the United States

Among those whose reading habits Wood studied was US President John F Kennedy, an avid reader Subsequently White House staff members in the Kennedy, Ford, and Carter administrations took the course

One of Wood's speed reading students appeared on the CBS television program I've Got a Secret, claiming she could read the 689-page novel Gone With the Wind in less than one hour


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Van Gelder, Lawrence 1995-08-30 "Evelyn Wood, Who Promoted Speed Reading, Is Dead at 86" The New York Times Retrieved 2017-03-11 
  2. ^ Oliver, Myrna 1995-08-31 "Evelyn Wood; Pioneer in Speed Reading" Los Angeles Times Retrieved 2017-03-11 
  3. ^ a b c d "The Evelyn Nielsen Wood Papers, ca 1925-1979" Utah State Historical Society Retrieved 2017-03-11 
  4. ^ "Obituary, M Doug Wood" The New York Times 1987-05-07 Retrieved 2017-03-11 
  5. ^ a b McLellan, Dennis 1986-08-14 "A Quick Read Through the Life of Evelyn Wood" The LA Times Retrieved 2017-03-11 
  6. ^ Lehmann-Haupt, Christopher 1995-12-31 "The Lives They Lived: Evelyn Wood;Finger Reading" The New York Times Retrieved 2017-03-11 

External links

  • Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics

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