Emma was born in Münden, Hannover, Germany in 1818 to Captain Heinrich Ludwig Marwedel and Jacobina Carolina Christiana. 2 Her father was a military officer and gave her "an exceptional education" 5, but her parents died before Emma was 11 years old, leaving her in charge of the family.
She trained at the Froebel School in Hamburg, which espoused the benefits of early childhood education. 1 She was an ardent feminist and and in 1865 help found the first women's rights organization in Germany, the German Association for the Advancement of Women. After much research, in 1867 she founded the first industrial art school for women in Germany. 5
She was brought to New York by American feminist Elizabeth Palmer Peabody to start kindergartens and vocational schools to prepare women to become skilled industrial workers. She founded kindergartens in Washington, D.C. in 1872 (where the children of various senators were her students), and then went to Los Angeles where she founded the Pacific Normal Training School and the California Model Kindergarten.
After moving to Oakland in 1878, Miss Marwedel founded a model kindergarten at 511 Seventeenth Street. In 1879 she founded another kindergarten in Berkeley, and then moved to San Francisco in 1880. 4 She helped found the San Francisco Kindergarten Society, which established the first free kindergarten on the West Coast. 1
Miss Marwedel never married or had children, but obviously her life's work impacted countless children.
Death and Burial
Emma Marwedel died in 1893 in San Francisco. The funeral was held at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland, with Rev. Charles W. Wendte presiding. 3 She was buried in plot 11 in Mountain View Cemetery. The grave marker looks like children's toy blocks; the forms of the sphere, cylinder, and cube comprise the "second gift", materials fundamental to kindergarten education as designed by Friedrich Froebel, to which Marwedel dedicated her life. Her grave marker bears the inscription "She Loved Little Children."
Links and References
- Conscious Motherhood; Or,The Earliest Unfolding of the Child in the Cradle by Emma Marwedel
- Kindergarten Games by Emma Marwedel