Esther B. Kahn was born in Boston and lived her entire life in the Brookline area.

She attended the Brookline Public Schools and earned a B.A. degree from Radcliffe College in 1935. After her three daughters were grown, already an ardent feminist, civil libertarian and liberal democrat, Mrs. Kahn received a Master's degree from Boston University's School of Education in 1954. She taught at Bedford High School for fifteen years, developing a reputation as a creative and innovative teacher.

In 1967 she was awarded a three-year Federal grant for a project proposal to establish a curriculum for the teaching of a Sex and Family Living Education Program.

Boston University awarded her an Honorary Doctor of Letters for her outstanding contributions to education in 1986.