Elizabeth Lowell Putnam was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, one of five children of Augustus Lowell and his wife Katherine Lawrence Lowell. Among her siblings were the poet Amy Lowell and Abbott Lawrence Lowell, president of Harvard University. In 1888, she married William Lowell Putnam, a distant cousin and lawyer, with whom she had five children. She became a noted philanthropist and worked primarily on behalf of maternal and child health. As chairman of the Massachusetts Milk Consumers' Association, she lobbied for milk inspection and purity laws. She also chaired the Department of Public Health and the Committee on Prenatal and Obstetrical Care of the Women's Municipal League of Boston, and served as president of the American Association for the Study and Prevention of Infant Mortality (AASPIM), later renamed the American Child Hygiene Association. In 1928, she founded and endowed the Fearing Research Laboratory for research on toxemia of pregnancy. However, she was an avid anti-suffragist. She also held office or membership in the Republican Club of Massachusetts, the Republican City Committee, and the Republican State Committee. Following World War I, she worked with the leaders of various ethnic groups, assisting immigrant communities in Massachusetts with employment, education, and recreation. During her lifetime, she published six books of poetry and prose.