First Kindergarten Class, Des Peres School


This photograph of the first kindergarten class to attend Des Peres School in 1873 represents the Kindergarten Movement in St. Louis. This school, and the class pictured, are significant because the school was the site of the first public kindergarten in the United States. The movement can be traced back to Blankenburg, Germany, where Friedrich Froebel developed the first kindergarten in 1837. In his kindergarten classes, young children learned fundamental skills by playing with simple objects. Susan Blow, daughter of a wealthy Missouri senator, traveled to Germany after the Civil War and observed these kindergartens. She was impressed and decided to bring this type of education back home to the United States. With the help of her father, Susan Blow advocated for the St. Louis Public Schools to open an experimental kindergarten. In September 1873, she founded the Des Peres School in Carondelet with the backing of the public school system. The following year, Susan Blow founded a training school for kindergarten teachers and St. Louis became the center of the nation-wide kindergarten movement. The Des Peres school building stands as a testament to Susan Blow’s hard work and the movement to bring kindergarten to the United States. 

Object Details

Categories: Education

Date: 1873

Subject: Kindergarten; Early childhood education.

Contributing Institution: Missouri Historical Society

Accession Number: P0900-37572-01-PR

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Region: St. Louis Metro

Latitude: 38.614904

Longitude: -90.25763