Elizabeth Peabody (right) had many accomplishments in her adult life. As she grew older Elizabeth never slowed down, her youth vibrated through her until her death. Elizabeth was very close to her sisters Mary and Sophia. As they grew older Elizabeth became more dominant over the other two sisters as their interests began to differ. Mary fell in love with Horace Mann and married. Although she loyally helped Elizabeth in later projects, Sophia enjoyed her beauty and her effects on men and she would later marry Natheniel Hawthorne. Elizabeth did not marry. She was a very busy woman and was content with her work.
Elizabeth Peabody and her sister Mary - the Peabody Sisters
After many years of teaching, Elizabeth went to work for Bronson Alcott at the Temple school. Elizabeth had remained loyal and unpaid at the Temple school until it failed. Elizabeth then decided to go into business and open a book shop. Elizabeth believed a book shop ought to be a meeting place for authors and readers to congregate, discuss and purchase books. Her Boston book shop flourished, and soon people such as Margret Fuller, the Emersons, and Dr. Holmes came to speak there.
Elizabeth entered the business world to the surprise of many men. And even more impressively, she became the first woman publisher. Because of the prejudices of the time in which she lived Elizabeth referred to herself as E.P. Peabody. She also knew that it would be impossible for a woman to be a printer, so she stayed in the publishing and sales businesses.
Elizabeth made great contributions to society through her writing. She wrote numerous books, articles, and pamphlets through her adult years. She wrote children's books, a Christmas book called The Casket
. She wrote a book called Record of a School Exemplifying the Principals and Methods of Moral Culture. This particular book cost her money. It cost her money because one night all of the copies that were being stored in a warehouse were burned, and she had to pay for the publishers loss.
She wrote text books and teaching aids such as Moral Culture of Infancy and Kindergarten Guide Perhaps her favorite book was written in her later years. Reminiscences of William Ellery Channing was a novel /biography Elizabeth produced after reviewing old letters she wrote and received from her child to her adult life.
Elizabeth did not restrict herself to writing novels. She wrote the Kindergarten Messenger with her sister Mary.
She wrote numerous articles for other "small newspapers and magazines" as well. The most influential writing, the writing that marked her position in history books was done for The Dial magazine. The Dial was a Transcendentalist magazine started by Bronson Alcott, but Elizabeth soon became the publisher.
After the Dial slowed down , Elizabeth yearned for a new project to engulf herself in. She turned to teaching as this outlet. Elizabeth and her sister Mary began the first kindergarten in the United States. It was located in Boston and based on the concepts developed by a German educator , Friedrich Froebel. Elizabeth traveled promoting and constructing kindergartens. She even made a trip to Germany to observe the their kindergartens and she recruited the best teachers to come back with her and help her establish more kindergartens in the United States.
Elizabeth's generous attitude and giving heart gave way to yet another project when the Princess Winnemucca came to her and Mary for help. The Princess told her sad story of suffering to the two women. Mary wrote a book about the hardships of the Princess's people. When the book was published, the sisters gave all of the money from the sales of the books and donations to the Princess to provide schools for Indian children. Elizabeth gave lectures and continued to appeal to people for donations. She funded Indian schools by sending one hundred dollars a month to the Princess for six years. This was one of the last projects Elizabeth would work on with Mary. Mary died a short time later.
Elizabeth continued her projects and crusades for just causes until she died at the age of ninety. Elizabeth had immeasurable influences on the Women's sufferage movement. She was remembered by all as a woman with great determination and generosity. These qualities are portrayed in her sister Mary's description of her.
"E. is one of those people who are immortally young in spirit and she circulates among her friends when she can get a helping arm, and continues to ply her pen assiduously."
Hoyt,Edwin P. The Peabody Influence. New York: Dodd, Mead, and Company, 1968.
Tharp,Louise Hall. The Peabody Sisters of Salem. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1951.
"Brook Farm" Encyclopędia Britannica