Phoebe Apperson Hearst

"California's Most Beloved Hostess"


From her modest upbringing in Missouri, Phoebe Apperson Hearst (1843-1919) rose to millionaire status and was truly one of America's major female figures.  Her wealth was amassed from the abilities of her husband, George Hearst, to understand the potentials of mines and to invest heavily in those he assessed would produce results.  At his death on February 28, 1891, her wealth was estimated at $250 million, a staggering sum in those days.  George, who was 20 years her senior, was also from Missouri.  In 1850 he went off to the gold mining fields in California and eventually made it big.  He came home to Missouri in 1862 to care for his dying mother, dated and married Phoebe Apperson and returned to California.  Phoebe raised her son William Randolph Hearst, took care of her grandchildren, and in her spare time funded and supported the University of California and Mills College.

In her paper, "Phoebe Apperson Hearst's 'Gospel of wealth,' 1883-1901," Alexandra M. Nickless, a member of the Department of Social Science at City College of San Francisco, reports that the U.S. Senate recognized Phoebe Hearst and Andrew Carnegie as "exemplars of American Philanthropy."  Senator Johathan Prentiss Dolliver of Iowa declared that Hearst was "a new kind of millionaire," interested in the "good words and works of charity in the community in which she lived, and throughout all the cities of California."  During this period in US History some call "Age of the Moguls,"  there was no IRS; no Federal Income Tax.  Many of this country's wealthy lavished in "conspicuous consumption" and others focused philanthropic issues.  Some could do both. Phoebe's "gospel" was to help build a foundation of education to ensure the future of the country. 


 Her accomplishments and contributions included:

First woman appointed to the Board of Regents, University of California.
Provided Scholarships for University of California Women students.
Set up a seamstress business in Berkeley to house and provide jobs for University female students.
A major factor in the foundation of what is now the PTA.
Established the California Model Kindergarten.
She funded and built Kindergarten buildings in San Francisco.
Established the Pacific Model Training School for Kindergartners.
Established three independent Kindergartens in Washington D.C.
Provided homes for teachers, assistants, and students.
Established a training school for African American Kindergarten teachers in Washington D.C.
Established "free" libraries in mining cities.
Funded the installation of electricity at Thomas Jefferson's home at Monticello.


 


 

    
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