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Elizabeth Palmer Peabody (1804–1894)

Author of Letters of Elizabeth Palmer Peabody: American Renaissance Woman

Includes the names: Elizabeth Palmer Peabody

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Elizabeth Palmer Peabody was born in Billerica, Massachusetts, the eldest of the three remarkable daughters of Nathaniel Peabody, a dentist, and his wife Eliza(beth) Palmer, a teacher. She grew up in Salem, and was educated in her mother's school and by private tutors. She learned Greek from Ralph Waldo Emerson. She attended classes at Harvard University, though as a woman she was not permitted to enroll. She opened several schools of her own and became an authority on early childhood education. She also became a writer and a prominent figure in the Transcendentalist movement. Her first book, Record of a School (1835), outlined what she had learned from working as assistant teacher to Bronson Alcott at his experimental Temple School in Boston. She opened a book store, the West Street Bookshop, at her home in Boston, where she held gatherings of women to discuss art, history, literature, and nature. Margaret Fuller organized these "conversations," and many female writers and women's rights advocates took part, including Sophia Dana Ripley, Caroline Sturgis Tappan, and Maria White Lowell. Elizabeth became publisher of the Transcendentalist publication The Dial and also was a contributor. She befriended Nathaniel Hawthorne, published several of his children's books, and introduced him to her sister Sophia, who married him in 1842. In 1849, Elizabeth founded her own journal, Aesthetic Papers, which failed almost immediately, but not before publishing Henry David Thoreau's essay "Resistance to Civil Government." From 1873 to 1877, she edited a journal she founded with her sister Mary, Kindergarten Messenger, and in 1888, published Lectures in Training Schools for Kindergartners. Today she is best known for having established kindergarten as an institution in the USA.
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