150th Anniversary  1854 - 2004
George Peabody Medal Merit Honor List 
-
courtesy of the Peabody Institute Library, Peabody

Medal Winners
1) THE FIRST PEABODY MEDAL PRESENTED TO EARLY GRADUATES OF HOLTEN HIGH SCHOOL, DANVERS, MA.
2) 1855 MEDAL RECIPIENT THOMAS CARROLL, NAMESAKE OF THE THOMAS CARROLL SCHOOL, WAS AMONG THE FIRST GROUP TO RECEIVE THE  AWARD.
3) FIRST PEABODY MEDAL PRESENTED TO GRADUATES OF SOUTH DANVERS HIGH SCHOOL
4) 1901 MEDAL RECIPIENT ANNIE I. McCARTHY, FIRST WOMAN PRINCIPAL OF THE BROWN SCHOOL, PHILANTHROPIST
5.  PEABODY MEDAL AWARDED IN 1999
6.  1979 MEDAL RECIPIENT NANCY J. WERLIN, YOUNG ADULT AUTHOR

Note: In 1850, the town of Danvers created two high schools, the community's first institutions of higher learning.  Peabody High School was located in the vicinity of George Peabody's birthplace,  the southern part of Danvers (now Peabody) and a second high school (Holten High School) was established in the northern part of Danvers (now Danvers). 

The schools resulted from the efforts of school board member and lawyer John W. Proctor to create a high school aligned with the vision of Horace Mann, the state's first Director of Education.  For further information, read the Nineteenth Century Schools by Amos Merrill. 

John Wells in The Peabody Story wrote "The first Peabody High School opened on June 7, 1850, in a small,  one-story building, in the rear of the Unitarian Church on Park Street, which had been used as a chapel or  vestry. This later became a dwelling and was moved to Washington Street opposite the land now owned by the Eastman Gelatine Corp. 
"There was originally only one outside door in the building.  Inside were a couple of closets near the teacher's platform for storing physical and chemical apparatus.  All lessons were heard in sight and hearing of all the pupils, and the school had a seating capacity of forty-three scholars.  In the first year only twenty-five pupils attended.

 

 

Old High School
First High School. Courtesy of the Peabody Historical Society. 

 

"The first teacher and principal was Eugene B. Hinckley, a native of Brunswick, Maine, who had just graduated from Bowdoin College.  He was described by Thomas Carroll as a man of distinguished appearance, dignified and athletic.  It seems incredible today, but he had to teach all the various branches of study every day, with no assistance.

"Each day was made up of two sessions, nine to twelve in the morning, and 1:30 to 4:30 in the afternoon.  Even experiments in chemistry and physics were performed in the presence of the whole school, and the younger pupils learned from hearing the older scholars recite on their advanced subjects.  The pupils also had to attend school on Saturday mornings, when the school had a reading lesson.

"During the winter of 1854 the high schools of Peabody and Danvers met together for the first time at the South Church in Peabody.  The occasion was the announcement of the gift of George Peabody to the two schools, by which the most worthy students would receive medals at graduation.  The George Peabody medals are still awarded to honor students of both schools to this day."


Superintendent's Report, 1854  
from Charles Northend....The very favorable results which have been so apparent from the establishment of the Peabody and Holten schools, are such as to render their continued existence no longer doubtful.  They have accomplished a good work and have rapidly gained the confidence of the community.  Alike an honor and a blessing to the town, it is hoped they will continue to receive a cheerful and generous support.

 

It is well known to all that these schools have, within a few months, been the highly honored recipients of the munificent liberality of GEORGE PEABODY, of London, by signifying his intention to give the sum of $200 annually in the bestowment of prizes to the meritorious, he has increased the obligations of our citizens to elevate their standard of education, and at the same time afforded to the young most substantial and cheering encouragement for increasing their efforts to become accomplished scholars and useful citizens.... We trust that the influence of this noble instance of liberality, will have a most salutary and lasting effect upon the cause of education within the town.  May Mr. Peabody's generous gift not be regarded as a substitute for the interest and efforts of our citizens, but may they feel called upon to increase their endeavors to make the schools the worthy recipients of such distinguished favor, - so that there may go out from them those who will, in coming time, prove as great an honor to the schools and the town as George Peabody is at the present time...

Appendix to the Annual Report of the 
School Committee of the Town of Danvers, 1854. 

The following is a copy of Mr. Peabody's interesting letter to the Committee of the High Schools.  It is worthy of its origin:
                                                                                               London, 30th Nov., 1853

To the Committee of the Holten and Peabody High Schools of Danvers.
GENTLEMEN: - In acknowledging the compliment paid me by giving my name to the High School of the South Parish, in Danvers, it is my wish to confer on the schools, over which your preside, some more substantial benefit than appertains to a name.

 

My first thought was to make a small gift to the school which bears my name, but I understand that the gentlemen composing the Committee selected by the town, are equally connected with both schools, and I have, therefore, determined that the pupils of both shall alike participate in the benefit of my humble offering.

I will transmit to you, in the autumn of 1854, the sum of two hundred dollars, and I will continue to send the same amount, annually, (provided the result shall be satisfactory,) during my life, to be expended in prizes for distribution as rewards of merit to the pupils at their yearly examination.

And in order to stimulate the scholars of each school to exertion and excite in them a laudable spirit of competition, it is my wish that there be no equal partition of the money or prizes between the two schools, but that the entire amount be common to both, and distributed as among the pupils of one school.  Thus if the pupils of one school excel those of the other in point of merit, or attainments, the prizes awarded them may exceed in like proportion without any reference to the one half of the entire amount. At the same time it will be highly desirable that every measure be adopted which may secure impartiality.

I would also suggest that the number, and consequently the value of the prizes be not determined until after the examination, as the number of deserving pupils will doubtless greatly vary, and if the number of prizes be not a limited one, the meritorious candidate may feel that however large the number of competitors, a prize is within the reach of each one.

With these remarks I leave the matter in your hands and then in the hands of those who from time to time may succeed you, - but should you wish to refer any matter to me, I hereby appoint my sister, Mrs. Russell, of Georgetown, and Mr. Charles Northend (Superintendent) to decide and act on my behalf.

               Very respectfully and truly yours,   

                 GEORGE PEABODY


"Education may well be considered the cornerstone of our national fabric. It was through the intelligence of the people that our Republic was originally organized and established - and it is only through the intelligence of the people, that its blessings can be perpetuatedfrom generation to generation." - Danvers School Committee, 1841

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