Woman of the Century/Elizabeth Robinson Abbott
Elizabeth Robinson Abbott ABBOTT, Mrs. Elizabeth Robinson, educator, born in Lowell, Mass., 11th September. 1852. Her maiden name was Elizabeth Osborne Robinson. She is the youngest daughter of William S. and Harriet H. Robinson. Through the writings and conversations of Miss Elizabeth P. Peabody she became interested, in her girlhood, in the kindergarten method of teaching, and would gladly have taken up that branch of educational work at the time when the death of her father made it necessary for her to become self-supporting. But circumstances prevented, and she therefore sought other ways of earning her living. Successively, she taught a district school in Maine and "boarded round," kept a little private school of her own, tried bookkeeping and learned to set type. After giving three months to learning type-setting, she hardly earned enough to pay her board out of the low wages given to women compositors. About that time two positions were open to her, one to "tend store" and the other as "second assistant" in Mrs. Shaw's charity kindergarten and nursery at the North End in Boston. The latter position meant simply to be the kitchen-maid or cook, and nothing more; but, preferring this position to that of shop-girl, and thinking it might eventually lead or open the way into higher kindergarten work, she accepted the offer. While there. Miss Phœbe Adam, the manager, became interested in the "second assistant" and, knowing her desire to become a kindergartner, with money helped her to carry on her studies, and kindly allowed her the privilege of taking time for her lessons out of the afternoon hours of her work. She was one of the early pupils of Miss Lucy H. Symonds, of Boston, and was a graduate of the class of 1883. So, after waiting seven years for the fulfillment of her cherished desires, Mrs. Abbott began her work as a kindergartner. Her first teaching was done in a summer charity-school in Boston. She then went to Waterbury, Conn., and introduced this method into the Hillside Avenue school. There she taught until her marriage, in 1885, to George S. Abbott, of that city. After her marriage Mrs. Abbott did not lose her interest in kindergarten work, but continued her class until most of her little pupils were graduated into primary schools. Since that time she has encouraged and helped others to keep up the work she so successfully began, having for two years given part of her home for use as a kindergarten. Thus Mrs. Abbott has created and maintained in the city where she now lives a lasting interest, and she may be considered a pioneer of kindergarten work in Connecticut. She is now secretary of the Connecticut Valley Kindergarten Association, an association of kindergartners embracing western Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Mrs. Abbott is not well known as a writer or speaker, but she is interested in and works for all that relates to the advancement of women. She is chairman of the correspondence committee for Connecticut of the General Federation of Women's Clubs, one of the founders of Old and New, the woman's club of Maiden. Mass., and the chief founder of the Woman's Club of Waterbury. Conn.