Who Is George Peabody? Seven Things Named for the Philanthropist

There was once a time when the city of Peabody, Massachusetts, was actually a town called South Danvers. The town was renamed Peabody in 1868, according to the historical society, to honor the philanthropist George Peabody who was born there.

The town became a city in 1916, and while highly notable as Peabody's birthplace, it's not the only place named after the philanthropist. Born in 1795, Peabody was the third oldest of eight children in his family, which struggled to make ends meet. At the age of 11, he left school to become an apprentice to the owner of a general store. The early end of his own education is what ultimately inspired him to support so many philanthropic causes related to education.

After his apprenticeship, Peabody worked at a wholesale dry goods warehouse and became a partner in the business by the time he was 20, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. After years in the business, he moved to England and started the banking house of George Peabody, which is how he accumulated much of his money, according to the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History.

During his lifetime, Peabody gave away an estimated $8 million to philanthropic causes, especially those that had to do with education. He also set up The Peabody Donation Fund and created housing for the poor people of London, a move for which Queen Victoria offered Peabody knighthood, which he declined, according to Philanthropy Roundtable.

The donation fund was later renamed the Peabody Trust. He also set up the Peabody Education Fund in the United States, which was endowed with $2 million and worked to better education in states in the south.

In addition to these funds, there are multiple places named after Peabody.

Seven Places Named for Philanthropist George Peabody

Peabody made a generous donation to Yale University to establish the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History.

He matched that Yale contribution and also gave to Harvard for the creation of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

There are also Peabody Institutes that were funded by the philanthropist in Peabody and Danvers, Massachusetts, as well as in Baltimore. The Peabody Institute in Baltimore is now part of Johns Hopkins University and has a beautiful library.

The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, was established in the 1860s. The Peabody Academy of Science and the Essex institute joined together to make one museum.

The George Peabody College for Teachers at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee, is now called the Peabody College of Education and Human Development.