The Peabody Education Foundation’s newly announced George Peabody Legacy Award to recognize individuals in Peabody who make a lasting impact on education is fitting way to honor George Peabody’s legacy.
The city’s namesake, George Peabody (1795-1869) was a successful, self-educated entrepreneur who became the world’s first international philanthropist. He provided benefactions well over $8 million, most of them in his own lifetime, and many of which continue more than 150 years later to benefit people in the U.S. and England.
He supported universal education, establishing libraries and lyceums for the education of all - men, women and adults.
He aided the poor by endowing low income housing in London and promoting education in the south after the Civil War.
He also supported the sciences, exploration and innovation, creating museums of
archaeology, natural history, and science. He helped finance the creation of the first transatlantic cable in 1866 and, an expedition to the Canadian Artic by Elisha Kane in 1854 to search for Sir John Franklin who disappeared attempting to chart the Northwest Passage.
Peabody accepted his role as a peacekeeper and protector. He raised the U.S.’s reputation with the English by annually celebrating America’s birthday with dignitaries in London on July 4 less than 50 years after the war of 1812.
He upheld America’s credit in England during times of economic instability and saved America’s reputation by funding the American exhibit at the Crystal Palace
He supported efforts to keep England from entering the Civil War on the side of confederacy and brought the north and south together by opening the Baltimore Peabody Institute after the Civil War and providing aid to the poor in the South.
After southern Danvers separated from Danvers in 1855, George Peabody sought to heal any rift between the two towns by funding two libraries - one for South Danvers and one for Danvers. He also provided Peabody Merit Medals for both Holten and Peabody high school students.
He specifically chose his burial site in an area of Harmony Grove cemetery that was within the town’s original borders.
Nominations for the first annual George Peabody Legacy Award will be accepted through February 15, 2013 for individuals who engage and inspire residents to follow in the footsteps of the city’s namesake, George Peabody: a leader in the fields of education and philanthropy.
The PEF is seeking nominations of active members in the community – the school
community or beyond - who affect change for the good of the people of Peabody over a significant period of time. Awards may be made posthumously.
The individuals receiving this distinction will be announced on George Peabody’s 218th birthday, February 18, 2013.
The PEF will hold the first George Peabody Legacy Award Event on in May at Wiggin Auditorium in Peabody City Hall. Proceeds from the event, which will include a silent raffle, will benefit the Peabody Education Foundation.
Founded in 1985 by a group of community members, business leaders, and educators seeking to enhance the quality of Peabody public education, the Peabody Education Foundation (formerly the Peabody Education Council) integrates resources from all facets of the community into the city’s schools.
The Peabody Education Foundation provides unique programs and advanced technology to thousands of students who might otherwise not enjoy such experiences due to budget constraints. PEF programs are intended to benefit and guide children as they develop into successful citizens and leaders. With the support of the community, we are able to continue offering programs to encourage creativity and inspiration in Peabody’s students.
George Peabody is recognized as the first international philanthropist in the nineteenth century and endowed the following:
- 1852 The Peabody Institute (now the Peabody Institute Library), Peabody, Mass: $217,000
- 1856 The Peabody Institute, Danvers, Mass (now the Peabody Institute Library of Danvers, $100,000
- 1857 The Peabody Institute (now the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins
- University), Baltimore: $1,400,000
- 1862 The Peabody Donation Fund, London: $2,500,000
- 1866 The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard
- University: $150,000
- 1866 The Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University: $150,000
- 1867 The Peabody Academy of Science, Salem, Mass: $140,000
- 1867 The Peabody Institute, Georgetown, District of Columbia: $15,000 (today the Peabody Room, Georgetown Branch, DC Public Library).
- 1867 Peabody Education Fund: $2,000,000
- 1875 George Peabody College for Teachers, now the Peabody College of Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn. The funding came from the Peabody Education Fund.
- 1866 The Georgetown Peabody Library, the public library of Georgetown, Mass.
- 1866 The Thetford Public Library, the public library of Thetford, Vt: $5,000
- 1901 The Peabody Memorial Library, Sam Houston State University, Texas