Early (Early) Education

The Kindergarten was developed by Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852) in Blankenburg, Germany, beginning in the 1830’s and 1840’s. Germans that immigrated to the United States brought with them Froeble’s concept. The first English-speaking Kindergarten was opened by Elizabeth Palmer Peabody in Boston in 1860. Another pioneer of the Kindergarten movement was Elizabeth Harrison (1849-1927), who grew up in Davenport and attended Davenport Schools. She was President of the National Kindergarten College from 1890-1919 and wrote the book “Study of Child Nature”.

The first public kindergarten in Davenport was started by the Davenport Kindergarten Association on November 18th, 1901, at the old Methodist Church on 14th Street. On the first day they had 28 children in attendance, although many more were expected to enroll. Their hours were from 9am until 12 noon. The “tuition” was free, but they asked for 5 cents per week, to purchase materials. They had 4 instructors, so each child would get the attention they required.

By February of 1905, the Association was sponsoring 3 Kindergartens in Davenport, operating at a cost of $1,800. They had found that even after public subscriptions, they were still left with $600 to be paid.  The Davenport Morning star reported that “the time was not yet ripe for the matter to be taken up by the school board, but must be supported by public subscription.”

Apparently, this did not happen:  after that school year, the Davenport City Directory only lists the People’s Union Mission Kindergarten, located at 312 E 2nd Street, until 1909.

The Davenport School Board introduced Kindergartens at 5 of their public schools on January 27th, 1913. The participating schools were Tyler, Buchanan, Pierce, Jackson and Jefferson. On that first day, a total of 111 children had registered. Tyler school had the largest enrollment, with 48 children attending.

With such a large number, the school board felt they were going to need another Kindergarten at some of the schools in the east end of Davenport.  The school board had intended to establish a Kindergarten at Van Buren school, but they couldn’t open it on time because of repairs being made to the building.

The enrollment would have been much larger, but some parents kept their children home due to an epidemic of whooping cough. Because they had so much success with enrollment on the first day, the school board was certain they were going to add Kindergartens at other schools in September.

And they did.

Kindergarten round-up for the 2011-2012 school year is taking place this week at Davenport Community Schools.  Over twelve-hundred students are already enrolled in the twenty-two kindergartens in the district, but the total will probably be higher!



Branch, Sandra F.; Elizabeth Harrison and her contribution to the Kindergarten movement in Chicago 1880-1920. Chicago, IL, May 1922

Davenport TimesAmuse children: a new institution is started in this city. 19 November 1901.

Davenport Morning Star. Are seeking to raise aid for Kindergartens. 11 February 1905.

Davenport Democrat and Leader. Big registration at Kindergartens. 29 January 1913.

(posted by Cristina)

This entry was posted in Local History and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.