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Harrison, Elizabeth (1849-1927) Papers


Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description




A Course for Mothers Given by the Chicago Kindergarten College


Miscellaneous records and related materials

Oversized materials, 1890-1925

Ledgers of the Chicago Kindergarten College

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Harrison, Elizabeth (1849-1927) Papers, 1849-1927 | National Louis University Archives and Special Collections

By Mark Burnette; Revised by M.Ryan 2015, 2017

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Collection Overview

Title: Harrison, Elizabeth (1849-1927) Papers, 1849-1927View associated digital content.

Predominant Dates:1880-1927

ID: 12/001

Primary Creator: Harrison, Elizabeth (1849-1927)

Other Creators: Crouse, Mrs. John Nathan (Rumah)

Extent: 7.0 Linear Feet

Subjects: College presidents, Harrison, Elizabeth, 1849-1927, Kindergarten, Teachers, Teachers colleges

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Elizabeth Harrison Papers consist of Correspondence; Publications (Pamphlets/Articles/ Addresses); Manuscripts; “A Course for Mothers Given by the Chicago Kindergarten College” (1891); Journals, Notebooks and Scrapbooks; and Miscellaneous items (documents pertaining to the Chicago Kindergarten Club, the Chicago Kindergarten Training School and the Kindergarten College, personal papers of Elizabeth Harrison, and writings by Mrs. J.N. Crouse, Susan Blow, and William T. Harris).  Within each category, materials are organized chronologically.

Biographical Note

Elizabeth Harrison was born in Athens, Kentucky, September 1, 1849. At an early age, her family moved to Midway, Kentucky, and in 1856 to Davenport, Iowa. From her childhood, she suffered from poor health: chronic asthma and bronchitis, and in later years from recurring pneumonia.

In Davenport, she attended public schools and graduated from the local high school, whose faculty and administration were populated by the “Acht und Verzigers,” Germans who immigrated following the 1848 revolution in Germany.  However, her father’s business reversals prevented her from attending college, and she devoted the next years of her life to caring for her sisters’ children in Marshalltown, Iowa.

In the summer of 1879, Harrison visited a high school classmate living in Chicago who persuaded her to attend the kindergarten training class organized by Alice Putnam.  Putnam had opened the first kindergarten in Chicago in 1874 and began offering courses in her Kindergarten Training School at the Loring School on Prairie Avenue, Chicago, in 1879 (the following year Putnam founded the Chicago Froebel Association). Harrison returned to Chicago in September 1879 to attend Putnam’s Training School, completed the 36-week training course, and received both a diploma and a certificate to train kindergarten teachers.

In 1881-82 Harrison attended Susan Blow’s school in St. Louis, the first public kindergarten in the United States, which opened in 1873.  In order to pay for her attendance at Blow’s school, Harrison opened a summer kindergarten in Marshalltown, Iowa, and in six months Harrison completed the two-year program.  The following year she returned to the Loring School but almost immediately traveled to New York to study with Maria Boelte and her husband John Kraus.  In 1854-56 Boelte had studied with Frau Louise Froebel, the widow of Frederich Froebel (1782-1852, founder of the kindergarten movement in Germany).  Thus, within three years, Harrison had studied with the pioneers of the kindergarten education movement in the United States.

After returning to Chicago in 1883, Harrison and Putnam organized the Chicago Kindergarten Club, which initially attracted 30 members. The following year, Harrison began offering mothers’ classes to educate parents about the kindergarten, and in the fall of 1885 or 1886—National-Louis University and its predecessor colleges traditionally have traced their origins to the latter date, but the sources are contradictory—Miss Harrison’s Training Class (or School) opened with five students and two mothers.

By 1887, there were 48 kindergartens in Chicago and its suburbs (private, church, settlement house, and the first in a public school) and four kindergarten training schools. Harrison soon met Mrs. John N. (Rumah) Crouse—wife of a prominent Chicago dentist, founder and president (1877-1907) of the Women’s Baptist Home Missionary Society in Chicago, and mother of one of Harrison’s kindergarten students—and the two women began planning an expanded curriculum.  By 1889 they had opened the Chicago Kindergarten Training School in the Chicago Art Institute, at Michigan Avenue and Van Buren Street. Although they shared many of the responsibilities of operating the school, Harrison focused on teaching and publicizing the kindergarten programs while Mrs. Crouse attended to the financial management, publicity, student recruitment, facilities management, and fund raising for the school.

Eighteen eighty-seven also saw the first of several literary schools, focusing on various historical literary figures, sponsored by the Chicago Kindergarten Club and the Chicago Kindergarten Training School. These began to attract the notice of the local Chicago newspapers.  In 1889, Harrison began to offer courses in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for kindergarten teachers and mothers, and in 1890 she traveled to Germany to meet with Baroness Bertha von Marenholtz-Bulow and Henrietta Breyman Schrader, a niece of Froebel, and visited the Schrader Kindergarten Training School.

Harrison played a major role in the kindergarten exhibit at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.  By then, there were 100 kindergartens in the Chicago area, and Chicago Kindergarten College students were supervising 50 of them. In 1894 Harrison organized the first national Mother’s Convocation in Chicago, forerunner of the Parent and Teachers Association (PTA), which drew 1,200 attendees. She was becoming a national figure.

At the turn of the 20th century, there were more then 5,000 public school kindergartens in the U.S. and more than 200 kindergarten training schools, and Chicago Kindergarten College alumni were holding positions of influence in the state and local Normal Schools, which were beginning to graduate kindergarten teachers.

Harrison was a founding member of the International Kindergarten Union in 1892, and in later years charted a moderate course between the conservative (strictly Froebelian) wing of the kindergarten movement, represented by Susan Blow, and the more liberal wing associated with John Dewey.

In 1912-13 Harrison visited Rome to observe the school of Maria Montessori, and in 1914 her study of the Montessori Method was published by the U.S. Bureau of Education. The following year the National Kindergarten College, successor to the Chicago Kindergarten College, began offering classes in the Montessori Method.

In 1918, a Children’s School was opened under the supervision of Clara Belle Baker, the younger sister of Edna Dean Baker, who had become Associate President of the National Kindergarten and Elementary College and would succeed Elizabeth Harrison as its president in 1920.

Following a heart attack in 1919, Elizabeth Harrison retired as president of the National Kindergarten and Elementary College in 1920. She spent the remaining years of her life principally in San Antonio, Texas, occasionally traveling to other parts of the U.S.  Until the end of her life she revised her memoir, Sketches Along Life’s Road, which was eventually published in 1930, three years after her death on October 31, 1927.

Subject/Index Terms

College presidents
Harrison, Elizabeth, 1849-1927
Teachers colleges

Administrative Information

Repository: National Louis University Archives and Special Collections

Processing Information: Described at the folder level.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Correspondence],
[Series 2: Publications],
[Series 3: Manuscripts/Typescripts],
[Series 4: A Course for Mothers Given by the Chicago Kindergarten College],
[Series 5: Journals/Notebooks/Scrapbooks],
[Series 6: Miscellaneous records and related materials],
[Series 7: Oversized materials, 1890-1925],
[Series 8: Ledgers of the Chicago Kindergarten College],

Series 6: Miscellaneous records and related materials
Sub-Series 1: Chicago Kindergarten Club
Box 12
Folder 1: Chicago Kindergarten Club Programs/ International Kindergarten Union material, 1889 to 1937
Folder 2: Programs Flyers for Literary Schools on Shakespeare (1889), Homer (1891), and Myths of the World (1895)., 1889 to 1895
Folder 3: Thomas Davidson, The Paradise of Dante, (A Lecture Delivered at the Chicago Dante School, April 20, 1892), Chicago:  Kindergarten Literature Co., 1893., ca. 1892
Sub-Series 2: Kindergarten Training School and Colleges., 1887 to 1920
Box 12
Folder 3
Folder 4: Ledger (office supplies, books, etc.)., 1897 to 1903
Folder 5: Elizabeth Harrison, "Outline of One Year's Work in Kindergarten with a Normal Child Five Years of Age," Chicago Normal School., 1899 to 1900
Folder 6: Letter of Introduction issued to Elizabeth Harrison by the U.S. Legation to the German Empire, June 30, 1890 (includes physical description).  Removed to oversize Box 34, 1/30/08 MB., 1890-06-30
Folder 7: Reports from Alice McRoy and J.A. McKinney., 1890-11 to 1890-12
Folder 8: Eloise McGregor receipt for half year's tuition paid, 15 Sept. 1890; receipt for Vision of Dante purchased, 15 Dec. 1896., 1890-09-15; 1896-12-15
Folder 9: "To Mothers," by Mrs. O.E. Weston, announcing creation of a Mothers' Department at the Chicago Kindergarten Training School; "To Mothers," by Miss Alice McRoy, announcing creation of a Mothers' Department at the Chicago Kindergarten Training School., 1890
Folder 10: Newspaper clippings about Elizabeth Harrison's Mothers Classes [pasted on the back of the notice of the second annual meeting of the Dental Protective Association, Dr. J.N. Crouse, president]., 1890-1891
Folder 11: New Year's Greetings., 1892-01-01
Folder 12: List of examination questions on "Gifts," "Mother Play," and "Occupations," given CKC students., 1892-06
Folder 13: "Class Song of 1893," by Nellie Lloyd., 1893
Folder 14: First Diploma given to a mother who completed the full kindergarten training course at Chicago Kindergarten College, Bettie Garth Young (signed by EH, Principal, and Mrs. J.N. Crouse, Director).  Removed to oversize Box 34, 2008-01-30 MB., 1893-06-08
Folder 15: Chicago Kindergarten College Summer School Announcement., 1894
Folder 16: "Annual Announcement of Special Courses," Chicago Kindergarten College., 1898 to 1899
Folder 17: "Chicago Kindergarten College, Answers to Questions most frequently asked.", 1898
Folder 18: "Selections of Instrumental Music for the Kindergarten and Primary Grades," compiled by Lilian M. Krinbill '99, Chicago Kindergarten College, n.d.
Folder 19: Repairs/Lawsuit at 10 Van Buren St. [Chicago Club, Daniel Burnham architect]., 1892-1903
Folder 20: Organized Hand Work For Public Schools and Kindergartens / No. 2 Construction Work, by Jessie Davis, Chicago Kindergarten College., 1908
Folder 21: Pamphlet:  "The Value of Kindergartens," National Kindergarten Association "Affiliated with Chicago Kindergarten College.", [ca. 1908]
Folder 22: Pamphlet:  "Training Teachers Session of the International Kindergarten Union," April 26, 1910, St. Louis, Mo.:  "The Use of Materials in the Kindergarten.", 1910-04-26
Folder 23: Program for the Mothers Course, National Kindergarten College., 1912 to 1913
Folder 24: Mildred Mack, Chicago Kindergarten College Report of Standing (grades)., 1913
Folder 25: Miss Harrison's Message re Alumnae, after 1920 (refers to Mrs. Crouse's ill health, ca. 1915)., [after 1920]
Folder 26: The Story of the National Kindergarten College by an Alumna, National Kindergarten College, May 1, 1916., 1916-05-01
Folder 27: Resolution in tribute to EH on her retirement by faculty and others of National Kindergarten and Elementary College, signed by 23 faculty/staff.  Removed to oversize Box 34, 1/30/08 MB., 1920-11-20
Folder 28: National Kindergarten and Elementary College announcement of Elizabeth Harrison's death and list of her books., 1927-10-31
Folder 29: National Kindergarten and Elementary College announcement of Elizabeth Harrison's death., [1927-11]
Folder 30: Description of Services for Elizabeth Harrison in San Antonia, Texas, and Davenport, Iowa., 1927-11
Folder 31: List of attendees at Elizabeth Harrison's funeral in Davenport, Iowa (handwritten on stationery of the Hotel Blackhawk, Davenport)., 1927
Folder 32: Memorial Service program for Elizabeth Harrison, Evanston., 1927-11-04
Folder 33: "In Memoriam, Elizabeth Harrison, 1849  1927":  Elizabeth Harrison, An Appreciation by Edwin Herbert Lewis; Resolution of the Board of Trustees, National Kindergarten and Elementary College; Funeral Services at San Antonio; Funeral Services at Davenport; Memorial Services at National Kindergarten and Elementary College Evanston; Memorial Services at Chicago Woman's Club; Appreciations; Tributes., 1928-11View associated digital content.
Folder 34: “Elizabeth Harrison,” Draft of eulogy by Edwin Herbert Lewis (printed in “In Memoriam”), 1927., 1927
Folder 35: Remembrance of Elizabeth Harrison from National Kindergarten and Elementary College, "Americana" handwritten in upper right-hand corner., 1920 to 1927
Folder 36: "Miss Harrison's Library":  "Books for 'The Mrs. John N. Crouse Memorial Library'," n.d. [1928], [1928]
Sub-Series 3: Misc.
Box 12
Folder 36: "An illustration of the effort put forth to understand a difficult subject of symbolism," I.K.U., (Susan Blow, Elizabeth Harrison).  Removed to oversize Box 34, 2007-07-11, MB., 1893
Folder 37: Elizabeth Harrison, Poem for Edward Somers Hall (with letter of explanation by his sister, Eleanor Hall Wilson)., 1893-02-21; 1958-01-10
Folder 38: "Examination of Kindergartners, Chicago, Jan. 26, 1895," and "Information Concerning Examinations [for Kindergarten teachers]," City of Chicago Board of Education., 1895-01-26; 1899
Folder 39: Elizabeth Harrison check made out to Mrs. R.J. Jones., 1897-03-01
Folder 40: Review of Two Children of the Foothills from The Sunday School Times., 1900-01-20
Folder 41: "When She was a Freshman," by Jean Carpenter Arnold, n.d.., [ca. 1905 to 1912]
Folder 42: University of Chicago announcement that Miss Grace Fulmer (CKC) will direct Primary Work in the UC Laboratory School, n.d.
Folder 43: Receipt and Private Lesson Card from Columbia College of Expression, for Elizabeth Harrison., 1910
Folder 44: "Tributes to Helen Grinnell Mears," with reference to the Helen Grinnell Mears Scholarship at National Kindergarten College., 1913-12
Folder 45: Fanniebelle Curtis, "An Analysis of the Recent Statement on the Kindergarten Situation," ["1914" and "Chicago?" handwritten on page 1, but statistics in the analysis are from New York City schools, 1912-13 report mentioned; statements by Elizabeth Harrison, Lucy Wheelock and Professor Strayer]., [ca. 1914]
Folder 46: "The Kindergarten Movement in the United States," US Department of the Interior, Bureau of Education., [ca. 1914]
Folder 47: "A Christmas Message from the Glory Kindergarten 1915," Kobe, Japan, signed Annie L. Howe., 1915
Folder 48: English translation of Schiller's "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, the National Kindergarten College hymn, with commentary by Jean Carpenter Arnold, n.d.
Folder 49: Print of Raphael painting of Jehovah creating the sun and moon, E.H. note on the back about its symbolism, "National Kindergarten College, 9-7-17".
Folder 50: "List of Books from the Boston Public Library.", 1917
Folder 51: Presentations [?] of honorary degrees to Elizabeth Harrison and Celia Sargent., [ca. 1920]
Folder 52: Brochures for Elizabeth Harrison's books, various dates.
Box 13: Miscellaneous, includes writings by Mrs. J.N. Crouse, Susan Blow, and William T. Harris at end.
Folder 1: Testimonial to Elizabeth Harrison, written between 1922 and 1927 (mentions The Unseen Side of Child Life [1922] and EH still alive)., [ca. 1922 to 1927]
Folder 2: Elizabeth Harrison notebook:  Diary of Christmases, 1886-1924; personal finances, 1924; "Spiritual Motherhood.", 1886 to 1924; 1924
Folder 3: Elizabeth Harrison Christmas and Greeting Cards, n.d., [Before 1927]
Folder 4: Brochure for Mrs. Frank H. Russell Classes, n.d. but (with EH's notation)., [Before 1927]
Folder 5: "In Memory of Elizabeth Harrison," n.d., [After 1927]
Folder 6: Publisher's brochure for Sketches Along Life's Road, 2 copies., [ca. 1930]
Folder 7: Miss Harrison's "Vision of the Yet-To-Be," Alumnae Dinner, San Antonio, Texas., 1937-04-01
Folder 8: Typescript of quotations from Elizabeth Harrison and Mrs., J.N. Crouse, "from Miss Adams to Dr. J, 8/5/65.", 1965-08-05
Folder 9: "Inventory of Large Cabinet in Librarian's Offices," n.d. (reference to President Johnson, 1949-1972).
Folder 10: "A chapter of 'Child Nature' translated into Japanese," n.d.
Folder 11: Writings on music by Francis M. Arnold, n.d.
Folder 12: Mathilde Wagner, "Music in the Education of Children" [paper written for Professor Francis Arnold], n.d.
Folder 13: Elizabeth Harrison draft of program for Francis Arnold/Geogine Faulkner performance in Harvey, Illinois (?), n.d.
Folder 14: "Courage" by Celia Thaxter (2520 Prairie Ave.), n.d.
Folder 15: "The Wind," n.d.
Folder 16: Misc. newspaper clippings (poor condition), n.d.
Folder 17: Papers found in the First Ed. Of Froebel's Mutter und Koselieder, n.d.  In folder with book, 2007-06-15 MB.
Folder 18: Kindergarten, Revista Semanaria Ilustrada, Mexico, Tomo 1, Num.1, 1 July 1907, and Tom 1, Num. 2, 8 July 1907., 1907-07-01; 1907-07-08
Folder 19: Misc. Harrison writings, n.d.
Sub-Series 4: Mrs. J.N. (Rumah) Crouse
Box 13
Folder 19: Mrs. J.N. Crouse, "Suitable Dress," a talk with students, 15 Nov. 1900., 1900-11-15
Folder 20: Mrs. J.N. Crouse, Kindergartening as a Profession (Chicago Kindergarten College, 1200 S. Michigan Ave.), [ca. 1906 to 1911]
Folder 21: Mrs. J.N. Crouse, "To the ( high school) Graduate", n.d., [ca. 1906 to 1911]
Folder 22: Misc. letters written by J.N. Crouse, n.d.
Sub-Series 5: Susan Blow
Box 13
Folder 22: Susan Blow, The Kindergarten (Taken from Merry Songs and Games), printed by the Chicago Kindergarten Training School, St. Louis:  Balmer & Weber Music House Co.,1890., 1890
Sub-Series 6: William T. Harris
Box 13
Folder 23: William T. Harris, Immortality of the Individual, New York:  D. Appleton and Co., 1885 [reprinted from The Journal of Speculative Philosophy, Jean Carpenter's name written on cover]., 1885
Folder 24: William T. Harris, The Kindergarten Methods Contrasted with the Methods of the American Primary School, "Read before the Kindergarten Department, National Educational Association, Nashville, Tenn., July 1889" [Jean Carpenter's name written on cover]., 1889-07
Folder 25: William T. Harris, "In What does Shakespeare's Greatness Consist," (manuscript, 52 pp.)., 1889-12-31
Folder 26: William T. Harris, "Herbart's Doctrine of Interest," Educational Review., 1895-06
Folder 27: William T. Harris, "Is Education Possible without Freedom of the Will?," Education [Journal]., 1896-01
Folder 28: William T. Harris, "The Necessity of Five Co-ordinate Groups in a Complete Course of Study," 1896, "A paper read before the Department of Superintendence of the National Educational Association in Jacksonville, Fla., February 19, 1896," "reprinted from the April 1896 Educational Review.", 1896
Folder 29: William T. Harris, "Horace Mann," "An Address delivered before the National Educational Association at Buffalo, N.Y.., 1896-07-07
Folder 30: William T. Harris, Kindergarten Psychology / Four Abstracts of Lectures, delivered at the Chicago Kindergarten College, reprinted from School and Home Education, Bloomington, Ill., 1899-04
Folder 31: William T. Harris, "The Separation of the Church from the Tax-Supported School," "A Paper read before the National Council of Education, at Boston, Mass., July 7, 1903.", 1903-07-07
Folder 32: William T. Harris, The Future of the Kindergarten, n.p., n.d., [ca. 1888 to 1909]
Folder 33: William T. Harris, Herbart's Unmoral Education, n.p., n.d., [ca. 1888 to 1909]
Folder 34: William T. Harris, In What does Spiritual Evolution Consist?, n.p., n.d., [ca. 1888 to 1909]

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Correspondence],
[Series 2: Publications],
[Series 3: Manuscripts/Typescripts],
[Series 4: A Course for Mothers Given by the Chicago Kindergarten College],
[Series 5: Journals/Notebooks/Scrapbooks],
[Series 6: Miscellaneous records and related materials],
[Series 7: Oversized materials, 1890-1925],
[Series 8: Ledgers of the Chicago Kindergarten College],

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