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Susan Elizabeth Blow was born June 7, 1843 in St. Louis, Missouri. Her father, Henry Taylor Blow, was a wealthy businessman with interests in the lead industry. After a deadly cholera epidemic swept through St. Louis in 1849, Henry Blow moved his family to Carondelet, five miles downriver. Susan Blow received a good education from tutors and private schools. Her family’s lifestyle allowed her the privilege of traveling abroad. On a visit to Germany she observed the work of Friedrich Froebel with young children in “kindergarten” classes using simple objects to learn language, math and science skills. Miss Blow believed that American children would benefit from the same instruction. Returning home, she studied and learned all she could about teaching kindergarten classes. The Superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools was contacted and agreed to a trial period of an experimental kindergarten classroom if an instructor could be found. In 1873 the first public kindergarten in the nation opened at the Des Peres School in St. Louis with Susan Blow as the director. By 1879 there were 53 kindergarten rooms in the St. Louis school system. Miss Blow continued to serve as the unpaid director until she retired in 1884 when her health failed. She continued to advance the kindergarten movement and facilitate the training of teachers for the kindergarten classroom for the rest of her life. The public kindergarten system she founded became a national model for adding early childhood training to public schools. Susan Blow died in 1916.
From Jauflione Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution