The Amelia Peabody Foundation is a grant-making organization

About Amelia Peabody

Amelia peabody

Amelia Peabody (1890-1984) was the sole surviving heir of Frank Everett Peabody's estate. Born to Frank Everett Peabody and Gertrude Bancroft Peabody (nee Bayley), Miss Peabody was a gem of the gilded age. Her father was a partner at the brokerage firm Kidder, Peabody & Co. Her mother descended from Robert Gray, the American Captain lauded as the first to circumnavigate the globe and trade with China. The family resided in a townhouse designed by William R. Emerson and Carl Fenner; it was in the posh Back Bay neighborhood, in addition to oceanfront property in Gloucester. A rare family photo shows the home's interiors that seem as if they were ripped from the pages of an Edith Wharton novel.

She took refuge in art, studying intermittently at the School of the Museum of the Fine Arts for the four years following her debut until 1913. Mrs. Peabody worried that her daughter's intensity and drive for sculpture would impact her eligibility in the marriage market. Amelia, however, had plans to devote her otherwise charmed life to giving. In a 1912 diary entry, she said, "If I ever do take up a charity, I intend to do it, and not half do it." Her endowments continue to fund various educational and charitable initiatives across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Miss Peabody did nothing by half measures.

Miss Peabody's wide-reaching charitable interests included Animal Husbandry, the Arts, Veterans Affairs, Medicine, and Scientific Discovery. Many of her interests were impacted by her life experiences. For instance, her elder brother Everett Peabody died aged 15 in 1900. Much of her work surrounding music was done in his memory. Her father, Frank, passed away shortly after Everett in 1918 after a brief illness. Her mother, Gertrude, summarily married a family friend, William Eaton. Amelia, however, was not taken by any offers of marriage and preferred her family's company.
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At the time of her death, Miss Peabody was the largest landowner in Dover. She used this commitment to agriculture to assist in founding Tufts Veterinary School, the only land-grant veterinary college in New England.

Medical science and engineering were also subjects of interest to Amelia Peabody. She sat on the boards of various esteemed Boston medical institutions, including Boston Lying-in, Children's Hospital, and Joslin Diabetes Clinic. However, Ms. Peabody was never above rolling up her sleeves and getting to work; even in her golden years, she would don a volunteer uniform and work at the front desk at the Massachusetts General Hospital. She notably became the benefactor of a variety of engineering feats, including a solar home built on her Dover property, spearheaded by scientist and Hungarian emigree Maria Telkes. She stood firm for education and scientific exploration, brokering a relationship with the Museum of Science. Today there is a wing that still stands named for Miss Peabody.

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In 1942, she put part of her fortune into the trust that would become the Amelia Peabody Foundation's corpus upon her death. During the post-war period, she devoted her time to the Red Cross Service Corps, teaching returning GIs occupational art. She taught them to create things like ceramics so they could be gainfully employed. Ever devoted to her causes, she even brought her students to the townhouse on Commonwealth Ave. where she had a kiln. Her artworks have been displayed worldwide, from Paris to New York, including a World’s Fair. However, some of her work lives on in MA, notably at the Bouvé School of Health Sciences at Northeastern University.
Amelia Peabody left an indelible mark on the Massachusetts charitable community and as promised in her youth, she did her charity work all the way. The goal of the Amelia Peabody Foundation is to continue Miss Peabody's commitment to supporting and innovating services for disadvantaged youth in need across the Commonwealth. Amelia Peabody died aged 93 on May 31, 1984, at her Dover property, Mill Farm.

"If I ever do take up a charity, I intend to do it, and not half do it."
Amelia Peabody

Sources and Photos Courtesy of:

Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society,

Kathryn Greenthal, Paula M. Kozol, Jan Seidler Ramirez, and Jonathan L. Fairbanks, American Figurative Sculpture in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Northeastern University Press, Boston. 1986.

Linda Smith Rhoads, Amelia Peabody, Amelia Peabody Charitable Fund, Boston. 1998.