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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 3: Manuscripts/Typescripts
Box 5: Dated Manuscripts/Typescripts
Folder 1: Notes on songs and activities, Vol. 1, translation from Madam von Bulow, n.d. [1887?  See Vol. 2, ca. 1887 below]., [ca. 1887]
Folder 2: Notes on songs and activities, Vol. 2, last talk with class of 1887 (on cover "Betty Harrison, 2535 Prairie Ave"), ca. 1887., [ca. 1887]
Folder 3: "Points on lesson before class at Art Institute, Dec. 14, 1888," heavily water damaged and much illegible., 1888-12-14
Folder 4: "Chicago is fast becoming the center of all good things.", [ca. 1890]
Folder 5: "Stories and Storytelling.", [ca. 1890]
Folder 6: "Stories" [The Significance and Value of]., 1890-11-05
Folder 7: "Art Value of Handwork, 19 November 1890.", 1890-11-19
Folder 8: "Five Knights" (story, song)., 1891-01-16
Folder 9: "Thoughts Suggested by Mr. Snider's Second Lecture on Dante.", 1891 to 1893
Folder 10: The Legend of the Christ Child:  A Story for Christmas Eve / Adapted from the German / by Elizabeth Harrison ("Presented to the Members of the Mother's Department of the Chicago Kindergarten College, Art Institute, Chicago, Christmas, 1891"); revised and edited for English children? (p. 2), After 1891., 1891-12-25
Folder 11: An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure ("address delivered before the National Society of Corrections and Charities in Denver")., 1892-07-27
Folder 12: "Some Hints from the Midway Plaisance for Mothers and Kindergartners by Elizabeth Harrison.", [ca. 1893]
Folder 13: "Chicago's Glory.", [After 1893]
Folder 14: "To the Graduate of '98," [both high school and college versions]., 1898
Folder 15: "The Scroll with the Golden Letters," n.d. (written on Hotel Euclid, Cleveland, stationery)., [After 1900]
Folder 16: "Miss Harrison, Mothers' Class, November 1900.", 1900-11
Folder 17: "Miss Harrison, Christmas Gifts, December 10, 1900.", 1900-12-10
Folder 18: "Miss Harrison, mothers' class, January 9, 1901.", 1901-01-09
Folder 19: "Miss Harrison.  Nursery Plays, Mothers' Class, Jan. 16, 1901.", 1901-01-16
Folder 20: "Psychology of the Gifts, Senior Class.", 1901-09-04
Folder 21: "Some Silent Teachers" (Typescript draft 1)., 1904
Folder 22: "Some Silent Teachers" (Typescript draft 2)., 1904
Folder 23: "Some Silent Teachers" (Review, School and Home Education, June 1904, p. 409),, 1904-06
Folder 24: "America's Message to the World - How does this affect the education of the young woman?", 1904-09-07
Folder 25: "Hashniff the Stone Cutter," n.d. (Typescript; see also Harrison, The Stone Cutter, A Japanese Legend, 1906), [ca. 1905 to 1906]View associated digital content.
Folder 26: "An Address before the Cleveland Graduating Class, 1906.", 1906
Folder 27: "Talk on Froebel's Mother Play Songs given to Freshman Class Sept. 19, 1912" and other notes., 1912
Folder 28: Misc. fragments (Rome, etc.)., [ca. 1912 to 1913]
Folder 29: "A Hero of France.", [After 1914]
Folder 30: A Thanksgiving Story told to the National Kindergarten College at their Thanksgiving Festival.  Suggested by Millet's "Anglus."  n.d., [written on the backs of fliers for G.B. Shaw's "Mrs. Warren's Profession" beginning 15 November 1916 at the Playhouse, and before 1917].  "Ex Libris M. Frances McElroy" Evanston campus bookplate., [1916 to 1917]
Folder 31: "The Glories of Chicago;" with unrelated 3 pp. on children (written during World War I), 1918
Box 6: Undated Manuscripts/Typescripts
Folder 1: Elizabeth Harrison, "The Moral Training of Children,"  n.d.
Folder 2: "The 'Falling, Falling' Song, on page 18 in the American Translation of Froebel's *Mutter und Kose-Lieder*," n.d.
Folder 3: The Mother's Kindergarten Series, Part II, Practice (The Fourth Lesson, "The Mother-Play songs," Topic, "The falling, falling game" Continued, n.d.
Folder 4: "The Enchanted Spot in the Queen's Garden," n.d. (2 pp. typed, legal size)
Folder 5: "Old Johnny Appleseed, A True Story" n.d. (After 1893, on CKC paper, 10 Van Buren St.), [After 1893]
Folder 6: "The Magical Lily of Easter Week," n.d. (After 1893, on CKC paper, 10 Van Buren St.), [After 1893]
Folder 7: "Old Dame Harrah and the Easter Lily," n.d. (After 1893, on CKC paper, 10 Van Buren St.), [After 1893]
Folder 8: "The Greatest of all [Gifts]," n.d. (After 1893, on CKC paper, 10 Van Buren St.), [After 1893]
Folder 9: Untitled Poem, n.d., (After 1893, on CKC paper, 10 Van Buren St.), [After 1893]
Folder 10: Notes on Christmas ("Xmas") and forests, n.d.
Folder 11: Stories, Games, Songs, n.d.
Folder 12: "Life of Friedrich Froebel," n.d.
Folder 13: Booklet of Notes on Games/Songs/Activities:  The Carpenter, The Wheelwright, The Knights and the Good Child, Grass Mowing, Beckoning the Chickens, Beckoning the Pigeons, Thumb a Plum, Thumb I say One, Finger Piano, Thumb Bow, [?] of the Child, The Cuckoo, Hare on the Wall, The Boar, and weekly curricula, n.d.
Folder 14: "Finger Piano," n.d.
Folder 15: "Thumbs and Fingers say, 'Good Morning'," n.d.
Folder 16: "An Outline of Study for Mothers," n.d.
Folder 17: "Story of the little Daisy," n.d.
Folder 18: "Man's Greatest Power" ("Story of a Fig Tree"). n.d. [After recuperating in California].
Folder 19: "A Thanksgiving Story," n.d.
Folder 20: "Song of the Raindrops," "Story of the Oak and the Violet," "Story of Oriole," n.d.
Folder 21: "An Easter Story," n.d.
Folder 22: "Story about a Real Soldier," n.d. [World War I?].
Folder 23: "The Story of Foolish Hans," n.d.
Folder 24: "An Ode," n.d.
Folder 25: "The Little Yule Tree by Elizabeth Harrison," n.d. [note on first page:  "Came out in American Childhood, 1929"]., [1929]
Folder 26: "The Legend of the Christ-Child," n.d.
Folder 27: "Glimpses of Life," n.d.
Folder 28: "The Leading Idea of Dante," n.d.
Folder 29: "[Aesop's] Fables,"  n.d.
Folder 30: "A Christmas Study of Child-Life," n.d.
Folder 31: "The Education of the Heart" (3 drafts), n.d.
Folder 32: "Misunderstood Children," n.d.
Folder 33: "May the Thirtieth, The Greatest thing a hero can do is to be a hero." "My last sermon to you.  With this I send my love."  n.d. [EH?  1920?]., [ca. 1920]
Box 8: Manuscript of Sketches along Life's Road
Item 1: Manuscript of Sketches along Life's Road (original)View associated digital content.
Item 2: Manuscript of Sketches along Life's Road (photocopy)

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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