Today in History: Remembering Margarethe Schurz

| March 15, 2018

180312_News_219x365Margarethe Schurz, also known as Molly Meyer Schurz (August, 27, 1833 – March 15, 1876), the wife of Carl Schurz, German revolutionary and American statesman, journalist, and reformer (1929-1906), is credited for opening for the first German-language kindergarten in the United States. Bringing Friedrich Froebel’s ideas into practice, she incorporated games, song, and group activities when she started her own school in Watertown, Wisconsin — a school which thrived until the onset of the first World War — and was, a century later, added to the National Register of Historic Places. Ms. Schurz was visited in 1859 by Ms. Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, another highly influential educator who opened in 1860 the first English-language kindergarten in the United States and served to strengthen the kindergarten movement.

The following articles are drawn from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.


Explore interesting resources in Pocketknowledge, the digital archive of Teachers College on the history of kindergarten, including German influences.

Payne, Joseph. A Visit to German schools: Notes of a Professional Tour to Inspect Some of the Kindergartens, Primary Schools, Public Girl’s Schools, and Schools for Technical Instruction, in Hamburg, Berlin, Dresden, Weimar, Gotha, and Eisenach, in the Autumn of 1874. London: Henry S. King, 1876.

The Patty Smith Hill Collection. Patty Smith Hill (27 March 1868 in Anchorage, Kentucky-25 May, 1946 in New York, New York) was an American nursery school, kindergarten teacher, and key founder of the National Association Nursery Education (NANE) which now exists as the National Association For the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Perhaps most well known as the sister of Mildred J. Hill with whom she is credited as cowriting the tune to the song Good Morning To All which became popular as Happy Birthday to You, Patty developed the Patty Hill blocks and in 1924 helped create the Institute of Child Welfare Research at Columbia University Teachers College.

The Speyer School was an outgrowth of a ”free kindergarten” established by St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, at 521 West 126th Street. In 1899, the church joined with Columbia’s Teachers College to expand the school to include grade-school pupils of what then was a lower middle-class neighborhood. It was funded in 1901 by James Speyer, German-born heir to a family banking firm and a member of the city’s Board of Education in the 1890’s, who gave $100,000 for a new seven-story building, including a roof deck.


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