Lynn M. Bartlett was born July 12, 1904 in Portland, New York. He earned his A.B. (1927), M.A. (1930), and Ph.D. (1954) degrees at the University of Michigan. In 1960, Northern Michigan University awarded him the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.
Bartlett began his career in the field of education as a rural school teacher in Cherry Creek, New York. From 1927 to 1929 he was a psychologist in the Detroit Public Schools. On July 24, 1937 he married the former Josephine Katherine Kriser, an elementary school teacher who shared his interest in education.
Over the period from 1930 to 1957, Bartlett taught briefly in turn at Eastern Michigan University, the University of Michigan, and Wayne State University, while also serving in a series of administrative positions for the Grosse Pointe Public Schools. On July 1, 1957, following his successful election campaign, Bartlett left the post of Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Personnel for the Grosse Pointe Public Schools to assume office as State Superintendent of Public Instruction for Michigan.
Bartlett served as State Superintendent for eight years until July 1, 1965, at which time he became Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Education in the Johnson Administration, a role that made him the director of the school system responsible for educating the children of armed forces personnel. In June of 1968, he was nominated by President Johnson as Assistant Secretary for Education in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. He assumed the post in early July and held it until his death on November 28, 1970.
Bartlett was a member of the National Education Association, American Association of School Administrators, American Psychological Association, the International Council on Exceptional Children, the Michigan Education Association, Michigan Psychological Association, and other organizations.