Woman of the Century/Frances Elizabeth Peirce
PEIRCE, Miss Frances Elizabeth, elocutionist and educator, born on her father's place, Bellevue, eighty miles from Detroit, Mich., 11th August, 1857. She is the only child of Dr. James L. and Rachel M. Peirce. When she was nineteen months old, her parents removed to Fallsington, Pa. Her father's health failed from overwork in his profession, and they sought a home in Philadelphia, Pa., when she was in her seventh year. Her early education was entirely under her father's care, and, while thorough, it was in some ways very peculiar. She learned her letters from the labels upon her father's medicines and could read their Latin names before she could read English. Miss Peirce never entered a school-room before her thirteenth year, when she was sent to the University School, which was under the care of the University of Pennsylvania. After studying there for two and FRANCES ELIZABETH PEIRCE. one-half years, and being number one in her classes the entire time after the first six months, her desire and taste for elocution attracted the attention of the late Prof. J. W. Shoemaker. He induced her parents to place her under his instruction, and she received from him more than ordinary care and attention, graduating in 1878 from the National School of Elocution and Oratory, of which he was president. She then accepted the position of lecturer on vocal technique in that institution, that department having been organized especially for her, but at the end of three years, her own teaching having increased so rapidly, she was compelled to relinquish all outside work and devote herself to a school of elocution which she had opened in Philadelphia. In 1880 she established the Mt. Vernon Institute of Elocution and Languages in that city, erecting a building to suit her purposes. In 1884 the institute received a perpetual charter from the State. By dint of persistent effort and "hold-on-ativeness," as she expresses it, she has raised the school to its present high standing among the educational institutions of the country. A board of five directors constitutes the management of the school, and with it is also connected the Mt. Vernon Institute Association, consisting of fifty- four members, twenty-five of whom form an advisory board. As a teacher she is preeminently fitted for her position, possessing as she does the innate faculty of discovering the capabilities and possibilities of her pupils, and of being able to adapt remedies to their faults, wherewith most quickly to overcome bad habits of delivery. Owing to her constant practice of physical exercises, Miss Peirce enjoys the best of health, and in the twelve years of her teaching has never once, through sickness, failed to fulfill her duties. All that she undertakes is pervaded by a high and noble purpose and firm resolution, and her niche in the world has been ably filled.