Woman of the Century/Elizabeth Palmer Peabody

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

PEABODY, Miss Elizabeth Palmer, educator, born in Billerica, Mass., 16th May, 1804. She is the daughter of Nathaniel Peabody, a well-known physician. Her sister Sophia became the wife of Nathaniel Hawthorne, and her sister Mary the wife of Horace Mann. Elizabeth was the oldest of a family of six children. She was a precocious child. She received a liberal and varied education, including the complete mastery of ten languages. At the age of sixty she learned Polish, because of her interest in the struggle of Poland for liberty. In early womanhood she put her attainments to use in a private school, which she taught in her home. In 1840 the family removed to Boston, where she opened a school. Her theory is that "education should have character for its first aim and knowledge for its second." She succeeded Margaret Fuller as teacher of history in Mr. Alcott's school. Her personal acquaintances included Channing, Emerson, Thoreau and other prominent men of the time. She has been identified with all the great movements of the day, and was prominent among the agitators who demanded the abolition of slavery. She was an attendant in the meetings of the Transcendental Club. She advocated female suffrage and higher education for women, and aided Horace Mann in founding a deaf-mute school. She is now living in Jamaica Plain, Mass. She is partially blind from cataracts on her eyes. Her literary productions include "Æsthetic Papers" (Boston, 1849); "Crimes of the House of Austria" (edited. New York, 1852); "The Polish-American System of Chronology" (Boston, 1852); "Kindergarten in Italy" in the " United States Bureau of Education Circular" (1872); a revised edition of Mary Mann's " Guide to the Kindergarten and Intermediate Class, and Moral Culture of Infancy" (New York, 1877); "Reminiscences of Dr. Channing" (Boston, 1880); " Letters to Kindergartners" (1886), and " Last Evening with Allston, and Other Papers" (1887). During the past five years she has written some, but her loss of sight and the increasing infirmities of great age have tended to make literary effort difficult to her. Her intention to write her autobiography has been frustrated. She was one of the most conspicuous persons in the famous literary and educational circles of Boston, and is now the only survivor of the persons who wrought so well for freedom, for light and for morality.