Susan Elizabeth Blow (Susan Elizabeth Blow)

Susan Elizabeth Blow

Educator. Reared in a deeply religious home, she was educated by tutors and at a private school in New York City. While traveling in Germany, she became interested in the revolutionary kindergarten methods developed by the German Idealist philosopher Friedrich Froebel. After a year of study under Froebel devotee Maria Kraus-Boeltz 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. Throughout this period Blow remained the unofficial and unpaid supervisor of the system. Froebelian doctrine tended to rigidity, and her expression of it, shaped by the influence of German Idealism, was perhaps more so; consequently she was unsympathetic to innovation in method. When younger kindergarten teachers began nonetheless to experiment in the mid-1880s, at a time when her health was precarious, she soon lost contact with the schools. In 1889 she moved east and thereafter lived in Cazenovia, New York, in Boston, and then in New York City. She lectured widely on Froebelian thought, of which she remained the leading American exponent (even Madame Kraus-Boeltz was less rigidly doctrinaire than she), and published several books on orthodox kindergarten practice, including Symbolic Education (1894), a two-volume translation of Froebel’s Mother Play (1895), Letters to a Mother on the Philosophy of Froebel (1899), Kindergarten Education (1900), and Educational Issues in the Kindergarten (1908). In 1905-09 she was a lecturer at Teachers College, Columbia University, where the kindergarten innovator Patty Smith Hill was also teaching. Susan Blow died in New York, New York, on March 26, 1916. 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. Susan E. Blow opened the first kindergarten in the United States in St. Louis 1873. (bio by: John M Blow)  Family links:  Parents:  Henry Taylor Blow (1817 – 1875)  Minerva Grimsley Blow (1821 – 1870)  Siblings:  Susan Elizabeth Blow (1843 – 1916)  Annie Wahrendorf Blow Johnson (1845 – 1916)*  Peter Blow (1850 – 1898)*  John Grimsley Blow (1856 – 1880)* *Calculated relationship


  • June, 07, 1843
  • USA


  • March, 03, 1916
  • USA


  • Bellefontaine Cemetery
  • Missouri
  • USA

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