Almira Hart Lincoln Phelps

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Almira Lincoln-Phelps (Hart)

Birthdate: (91)
Birthplace: Berlin, Connecticut
Death: July 15, 1884 (91)
Place of Burial: Green Mount Cemetery Baltimore Baltimore City Maryland, USA
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Samuel Hart, Jr. and Lydia Hart
Wife of Simeon Lincoln and John Phelps
Mother of Brig. General Charles E. Phelps (USA) and Almira Lincoln Phelps
Sister of Emma Willard

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About Almira Hart Lincoln Phelps

Almira Hart Lincoln Phelps (July 15, 1793 – July 15, 1884) was an American educator and author during the 19th century. Phelps published several popular science textbooks in the fields of botany, chemistry, and geology.

Almira Hart Lincoln Phelps was born on July 15, 1793, in Berlin, Connecticut. Phelps was the youngest child in her family, growing up in an intellectual, independently thinking, and religious environment.

One of Phelps’s most inspirational mentors of her life was her older sister Emma Willard. While living with her sister, Phelps was also mentored by John Willard and three of his fellow students who also came to live in the Willard household. While living with her sister, she studied mathematics and philosophy.

At the age of 16, Phelps began her teaching career in district schools. She later continued her own education. In 1814, Phelps opened her first boarding school for young women at her home in Berlin; and two years later, she became principal of a school in Sandy Hill, New York.

In 1817, Phelps married Simeon Lincoln and left her career for six years to be a housewife and mother to her three children. After her husband’s untimely death in 1823, Phelps returned to the education world and became a teacher and vice-principal at the famously known Troy Female Seminary in Troy, New York. While teaching at the Female Seminary, Phelps’s interests in science increased, and her botanical career began under the influence of Amos Eaton. While under the direction of Eaton, Phelps found her passion in botany and the lack of introductory text books for secondary and beginning college level students. This led Phelps to write and publish her first and most famous textbook in 1829, Familiar Lectures on Botany.

In 1830, with the absence of her sister, Phelps was acting as principal of the Troy Female Seminary and gave a series of lectures related to female education that she would later publish as her second book, Lectures to Young Ladies. Phelps remarried in 1831 to John Phelps, a lawyer and politician from Vermont. At this time, Phelps once again gave up her career to raise a second family. While raising her family, she continued to write new textbooks on chemistry, natural philosophy, and education.

With each new publication and her continuing teaching lectures, Phelps’s fame grew, and she was asked to head many female seminaries. In 1838, she accepted the challenge and moved to Westchester, Pennsylvania, to be head of the seminary there. She stayed at Westchester for one year, and then headed to Rahway, New Jersey, for two years. Finally, Phelps ended in Ellicott's Mills, Maryland, in 1841 where she established the Patapsco Female Institute. Her institute for women offered academic courses in history, geography, literature, languages, mathematics, sciences, and the arts. In 1859, Phelps was the third woman elected as a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. After gaining her membership, Phelps continued to write, lecture, and revise her textbooks until she died in Baltimore on her 91st birthday, July 15, 1884.


The standard author abbreviation A.Phelps is used to indicate this individual as the author when citing a botanical name.

Familiar Lectures on Botany (1829) The Child's Geology (1832) Lectures to Young Ladies (1833) Botany for Beginners (1833) Familiar Lectuers on Natural Phelosophy (1837) Natural Philosophy for Beginners (1838) Familiar Lectures on Chemistry (1838)


Almira Hart Lincoln Phelps spent her life as a pioneer for women's education, a teacher, a writer, and a publisher. Phelps was born on July 15, 1793, in Berlin, Connecticut. The youngest of seventeen children, Phelps was raised in a household that encouraged reading and discussion. She studied at various New England boarding schools, including the Middlebury Academy and Pittsfield Female Academy. At the age of 16, Phelps went to live in Vermont with her sister, Emma. John Willard, a student at Middlebury College, boarded at their home and tutored Phelps on his lessons from the all male college. This experience showed Phelps the disparity between educational opportunities available for males and females, and she spent the rest of her life fighting to close the educational gap between genders.

Phelps taught in various Connecticut district schools between 1813 and 1817. Her career was put on hold after she married Simeon Lincoln and gave birth to three children. She was widowed in 1823 and resumed teaching at various schools on the East Coast. Her career took another brief hiatus when she married John Phelps and gave birth to two more children.

Between 1828 and 1837, Phelps established herself as a reputable publisher by publishing 10 textbooks, most focusing on botany and the education of young women. Her books, such as Familiar Lectures on Botany, received praise as excellent educational tools for women. These books became the standard textbooks across the United States and Canada, selling over 3,500 copies. Phelps became a household name through her writings and as a lecturer.

In 1841, Phelps arrived in Maryland and became head of the Patapsco Female Institute in Ellicott Mills, Maryland. At the time of her arrival, the school was in shambles. Phelps and her husband used their own funds to renovate the building. Through her work, Phelps transformed the Institute into a place of high academic standards with a curriculum rich in natural history, mathematics, and the sciences. Many of the school's graduates went on to become teachers as well. As a Northern woman teaching mostly Southern young women, Phelps had the intricate task of teaching during the buildup of conflict prior to the Civil War. She published a popular book on the subject, Our Country in its Relations to the Past, Present, and Future, in 1864.

Phelps retired from the Patapsco Female Institute at the age of 62, after spending fifteen years transforming the school into a successful enterprise and her entire life improving educational opportunities for young women. Phelps died on the morning of her 91st birthday on July 15, 1884.

Birth: 1793 Death: 1884

Burial: Green Mount Cemetery Baltimore Baltimore City Maryland, USA

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Created by: Pege Record added: Apr 03, 2009 Find A Grave Memorial# 35496131

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Almira Hart Lincoln Phelps's Timeline

July 15, 1793
Berlin, Connecticut
May 1, 1833
Age 39
Guilford, VT, USA
Age 42
July 15, 1884
Age 91
July 15, 1884
Age 91
Green Mount Cemetery Baltimore Baltimore City Maryland, USA