Susan Blow
Hegelian Idealism, Philosophy of Education, Moral Development Theory

Kate Lindemann's 

Women Philosophers


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Susan Blow was one of the original St. Louis Hegelians ,the group who began philosophy in the United States. She was a contributor to the Journal of Speculative Philosophy , the first philosophical journal in the United States. She is best know for introducing Kindergarten to the United States and for introducing formal teacher training for those who were to teach Kindergarten classes.


1843 Susan Blow was born on June 7, 1843 to Minerva Grimsley Blow and Henry Taylor Blow, prominent and wealthy citizens of St. Louis Missouri. Her full name was Susan Elizabeth Blow and she was the first of six children in the family.

1849 After the Great fire in St. Louis and the ensuing outbreak of cholera, the Blow family moved downstream to Carondelet, Missouri, a settlement later annexed to St. Louis itself.

Education - Susan Blow was educated a home by a governess. Later she attended a private girls school in New Orleans.Then she went to Miss Haines's School at Gramercy Park in New York City. This school was housed in the home of Mlle. Henriette Deluzy-Desportes who in 1847 came from Paris to teach at the school. Note: Rachel Field's All This and Heaven Too , later made into a movie staring Bette Davis and Charles Boyer, tells the story of Henriette Deluzy-Desportes, who was Rachel Field's aunt.

While at the school, Susan read Secret of Hegel by J. H. Stirling, a work which influenced her thought and interest in philosophy. (The work later became a study texts among the St. Louis Hegelians)

1861 - the Miss Haines School shut down and Susan returned home. Her father did not believe in higher education for women and so she did not enter college at this time.

1869 Her father was appointed ambassador to Brazil. The whole family accompanied him to his new post and his eldest daughter, Susan acted as his secretary.

Her sister and a Russian dignitary developed a love interest and they were invited to Europe. It was on this trip that Susan learned of Frederic Froebel and his thought. Since Blow was already acquainted with Hegel's thought, this encounter with Froebel 'fit right in' as the practical application to the field of childhood education.

Returning to the United States, Susan Blow learned everything she could about teaching kindergarten. Finally, her father asked the Superintendent of Schools of St. Louis to establish a kindergarten as part of the school system. Susan offered to direct the school, as a sort of 'woman's good work' taking no salary, if the Superintendent would hire a paid teacher.

1873 Susan Blow opened the Des Pres Kindergarten in Carondelet.

1875 She presented a paper, "The Kindergarten: Its Aims and Purpose, and Results" at the Normal School Association meeting.

1876 Her kindergarten display at the first major Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia won an award.

1877 Susan Blow returns to Europe to study. This time she studies under Baroness Marenhoz von Bulow, an expert in Froebel's theory and methods.

Upon return to the Untied States she offered the first teacher training classes for kindergarten teachers, emphasizing practical, technical skills.

1878 - She provided another award winning exhibit concerning Kindergarten at the Paris Exposition Universelle and this brought recognition to the United States' kindergarten programs.

1879 - Blow is at the opening of the Concord School of Philosophy and she meets Denton Jacques Snider, a philosopher who documents the history of the St. Louis Hegelians.

1880 She expanded the teacher training curriculum to include literature and philosophy. She invited other members of the St. Louis Hegelian study circle, including Dention Snider, to offer courses of their own for her students. Snider's first class was on Sophocles. He later offered course on Homer and Herodotus. It appears that although they worked together Snider found it difficult to have Blow in authority over the program and appears to find the admiration and attention her students gave her bothering to him. Also, in 1880 her brother John dies.

1883 Blow continued her educational endeavors with adults and was teaching a class in Dante. But ill health began to plague her. She had the beginnings of what later was diagnosed as Graves disease, hyperthyroidism.

1884 Susan Blow decided to take a medical leave.

1885 When Blow did not return to school, the school board appointed someone else as director without consulting Susan Blow about it and in the process they ignored Blows recommendation of a successor. In this same year her brother in law died. Her sister Lucretia died in childbirth, leaving Susan the responsibility for raising Lucretia's four small children. Her health deteriorated.

1888 She goes to Boston for treatment and a medical professor at Harvard, James Putnam, finally diagnoses her illness and appropriate treatment begins.

1889 She moves to Cazenovia, New York to be near her sister.

1891 With her health improving, Jame Putnam encourages her to do some writing.

1896 She returns to public speaking.

1898 Her speaking engagements in New York and Boston draw large audiences and she continues to give speeches and lectures for many years.

She held a position at Columbia Teacher's College in New York and remained tireless in the work of spreading the word about childhood education and the philosophy and practice of education.

1908 She published Educational Issues in Kindergarten

1916 Susan Blow dies.

Sources: Dorothy G. Rogers. America's First Women Philosophers: Transplanting Hegel 1860 - 1925 Web sites that are linked within the chronology. This book belongs in every college and university library collection. It is a treasure of information about the beginnings of philosophy in the United States and the active part that women played in its foundation.

Works by Susan Blow

1875. "Experiment in Establishing a Kindergarten". St. Louis Public School Annual Report, 95 - 102.

1876. "The Kindergarten in Des Peres School". St. Louis Public School Annual Report 195 -199.

1879. "Claims of the Kindergarten for a Place in teh St. Louis School System". St. Louis Public School Annual Report 192 -224.

1879. "Symbolic Phase of Education" St. Louis Public School Annual Report 206 -211.

1885 "Goeschel on the Immortality of the Soul". Journal of Speculative Philosophy, 19:172; 19:299.

1886 "Goeschel on the Immortality of the Soul" Journal of Speculative Philosophy. 20:88; 20: 310.

1886 A Study of Dante New Ork. Putnam.

1894 Symbolic Education: A commentary of Froebel's 'Mother Play' New York. Appleton.

1895. Mother and Commentaries on Frederich Froebel's 'Mother Play" New York. Appleton.

1897. "A History of the Kindergarten in the United States". Outlook. 55 932-8.

1897 " The Kindergarten Ideal". Outlook 56 : 890 - 94

1898. Lettters to Mothers on the Philosophy of Froebel New York. D. Appleton,

1900 Kindergarten Education Albany. Lyon.

1908. Educational Issues in the Kindergarten . New York. Appleton.

1913. "The Concept of Guedganzes" The Kindergarten: reports of the Committee of nineteen on the theory and practice of kindergarten. Boston. Houghton Mifflin. 1-14.

1913 "Defininition and Order of Education Values". The Kindergarten: reports of the Committee of nineteen on the theory and practice of kindergarten.Boston. Houghton Mifflin. 15 - 62.

She is included in the St. Louis Walk of Fame. See: Susan Blow

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Susan Blow is among the more than 100 women featured in A Pictorial History of Women Philosophers photo album, and is one of 40 philosophers featured in

Busted!! A Pictorial History of Women Philosophers Volume 3.

This page was last updated 12/15/14.

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