“Mother of Kindergarten” Susan Blow is Born in Carondelet: June 7, 1843

Susan Blow illustration
Public Domain

Educator Susan Blow, credited with founding the first successful kindergarten program in the US was born on this date in Carondelet. She played a crucial role in introducing and popularizing the concept of kindergarten education in the United States, significantly influencing early childhood education.

Blow was born into a well-to-do family; her father, Henry Taylor Blow, was a prominent businessman and politician. She received a robust education, attending several private schools and later studying in New York and abroad. Her time in Europe was particularly influential, as she was exposed to the educational philosophies of Friedrich Froebel, the German educator who founded the kindergarten movement. Inspired by Froebel’s ideas, Blow returned to the United States with a vision to implement his principles in American education.

In 1873, Blow established the first public kindergarten in the United States in St. Louis. This groundbreaking initiative was supported by William Torrey Harris, the superintendent of St. Louis public schools, who shared Blow’s belief in the importance of early childhood education. Blow’s kindergarten was not just a place for young children to learn basic skills but also a space where they could develop through play, creativity, and social interaction, reflecting Froebel’s educational philosophy.

Throughout her career, Susan Blow was dedicated to training teachers and spreading the kindergarten model. She wrote extensively on the subject, authored several influential books, and conducted training sessions for educators. Her efforts paid off as the kindergarten movement gained momentum across the country, eventually becoming an integral part of the American education system.

Blow’s legacy is profound, as her work laid the foundation for modern early childhood education. She continued her advocacy until her death on March 27, 1916, leaving behind a rich legacy that continues to influence educators and the development of young children today.