surf Froebel Web

women took Kindergarten around the world

Baroness Bertha Marie von Marenholtz-Buelow

From her first meeting Froebel in 1848, she was a strong supporter of the cause. Through her connections to the more liberal Weimar court and Thuringian nobility, as well as liberal urban educators and intellectuals in Dresden, Leipzig, Frankfurt and Berlin, she convinced skeptics and adherents alike that there was worth in his ideas. Her book, Reminiscences of Fröbel presented kindergarten to a wider audience.


The advancement of kindergarten education was a major focus for the energies of female reformers in Germany during the 1848 revolution and the rest of the nineteenth century. Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852), an educator and philosopher who had studied with Swiss pedagogue Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, formulated the educational philosophy of the kindergarten

Margarethe Meyer Schurz 1833 - 1876

1st U.S. kindergarten schooled 5 youngsters in Watertown. German immigrant ran class, advocated new educational philosophy

Margarethe Meyer was born in Hamburg in 1833 to a prominent family that encouraged her to pursue the arts and education. There she was exposed as a teenager to the teachings of kindergarten founder and advocate Friedrich Froebel. When Meyer came to America she carried Froebel's ideas with her.

Margarethe employed Froebel's philosophy while caring for her daughter, Agathe, and four neighbor children, leading them in games and songs and group activities that channeled their energy while preparing them for school at the same time. Other parents were so impressed at the results that they prevailed upon Schurz to help their children, so she opened a small kindergarten, the first in the United States.

She later said that Froebel credited her with expressing his views better than his own books had. Her work certainly gained an audience; kindergarten became an accepted and integral part of American education and an accepted course of study for elementary teachers.

Susan Blow Born June 7, 1843

The average poor child in 1860s St. Louis completed three years of school before being forced to begin work at age 10. Susan Elizabeth Blow addressed that problem by offering education to children earlier. Applying Friedrich Froebel's theories, she opened the United States' first successful public kindergarten at St. Louis' Des Peres School in 1873. Blow taught children in the morning and teachers in the afternoon. By 1883 every St. Louis public school had a kindergarten, making the city a model for the nation. Devoting her life to early education, Susan Blow was instrumental in establishing kindergartens throughout America.

In contrast to other school rooms, this one was brightly decorated.

Children were encouraged to learn through guided exploration. Blow's classroom was visited by educators from all over the U.S. Her work changed education forever. Blow's book, Educational Issues in the Kindergarten, explains Froebel's creed "that man is a self-creative being . . . education shall encourage self expression . . . encouragement shall be given only to those modes of self-expression which are related to the values of human life . . ."

Susan Elizabeth Blow, born in 1843, was raised in an elegant home in Carondolet. Her education was typical for a young lady of the time. She attended school off and on, practiced reading by using the Bible and books from her father's library, tutored her younger sisters and brothers, spoke French with her governesses, and finally went east to a finishing school for girls. When her father was appointed Minister to Brazil immediately after the Civil War had Susan traveled with him. Then, with her family, she went to Europe. In Germany, she learned about the early childhood work of Friedrich Froebel, an educational reformer.

Susan Elizabeth Blow 1843 - 1916

After a year of study under Froebel devotee Maria Kraus-Boelté in New York, Blow opened the first public kindergarten in America at the Des Peres School in St. Louis in September 1873. The next year she established a training school for kindergarten teachers, and within a few years, St. Louis had become the focal point of the U.S. kindergarten movement.

Maria Kraus-Boelté 1836 - 1918

As a young woman she became interested in the work of Friedrich Froebel in the education of young children and spent two years studying his methods under his widow in Hamburg, Germany. Boelté then went to London and taught in a kindergarten operated by one of Froebel's pupils, Bertha Rongé. Boelté ran the London kindergarten by herself after Rongé's return to Germany and added garden activities and nature study to the course.

In 1867 she returned to Hamburg and taught in the Froebel Union training school for kindergarten teachers. She subsequently opened a kindergarten and training courses in Lübeck, Germany. In 1872, at the request of Elizabeth Peabody, she came to the United States. On her arrival in New York in September she established a kindergarten and mothers' classes in a private school.

Elizabeth Peabody 1804 - 1894

In 1859 Peabody learned of Friedrich Froebel's kindergarten work in Germany, and the next year she opened in Boston the nation's first formal kindergarten. She continued it until 1867, when she undertook a tour of European kindergartens to learn more of Froebel's thought. Much of her later writing concerned kindergarten education. Those titles include Moral Culture of Infancy, and Kindergarten Guide (1863), Kindergarten Culture (1870), The Kindergarten in Italy (1872), and Letters to Kindergartners (1886). In 1873 she founded the Kindergarten Messenger, of which she was editor during its two years of publication, and in 1877 she organized the American Froebel Union, of which she was the first president.

Eliza Ann Cooper Blaker 1854 - 1926

became interested in Friedrich Froebel's educational philosophies and was trained in his kindergarten methods.