top of page

George Peabody College for Teachers

Nashville, Tennessee



HathiTrust has many of the school catalogs, some from the time when Peabody was a component of the University of Nashville.  Yearbooks since 1954 are included in


George Peabody College for Teachers traces its history to Davidson Academy, chartered in 1785.  That school became the University of Nashville in 1827.  In 1867 the will of George Peabody of Massachusetts set up the Peabody Educational Fund for the improvement of education in the South. The Nashville Normal College came about in 1875 when the University of Nashville received a portion of the Peabody fund.   In 1889 the Winthrop Normal School was founded, and Nashville Normal College became Peabody Normal College.


When the University of Nashville closed, Peabody became a stand-alone school, now bearing the name George Peabody College for Teachers.  The closing of the Peabody Fund in 1912 gave George Peabody College for Teachers the mission and funding to become one of the foremost teacher training institutions in the nation.  The Knapp School of Country Life was formed in 1914 to prepare teachers to perform in the rural South.  Its curriculum included agriculture, rural education, rural economy and home economics.    In addition to a two-year licentiate program, Peabody offered a four-year B.A. degree, and graduate programs leading to both the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees.  Its summer programs allowed practicing teachers an opportunity to develop additional skills.


Peabody became a large school, with an enrollment of 1,916 students in 1915, coming from 20 states and one foreign country.  By 1927 this number had reached 4,019, 1,295 in graduate school.  Peabody was often employed as educational consultants for troubled schools across the nation.


Some student organizations from the University of Nashville time were retained.  These included five literary societies—Alpha Phi, Girls’s Chapter, and Peabody Literary Society for women and Erosophian and Agatheridian for men.  Student organizations with a religious focus included the Y.M.C.A., Y.W.C.A. and Student Volunteer Band.  There were also a Graduate Club and the Peabody Dames.


From the time Peabody College moved to a location beside Vanderbilt University, the two schools had had a separate but cooperative relationship.  Financially troubled, Peabody formally became Vanderbilt University, Peabody College of Education and Human Development in 1979. 

Bricks and Mortar

When the University of Nashville closed, the campus was deeded to Peabody.  But shortly afterward, Peabody purchased the former Roger Williams University campus, a fifty-acre plot next door to Vanderbilt University.  Newspaper reported in 1912 that four new buildings were to be completed by the start of school in 1913.


The Arkansas Gazette reported in 1928 that ten of a projected 18 buildings had been completed.  These were all of a classical design, none exceeding three stories.


The campus layout shows the Social-Religious Hall, home of all student organizations, at one end of the esplanade, flanked by dormitories.  Facing it was the Peabody Demonstration School.  Along the sides of the esplanade were the library and buildings for fine arts, industrial arts, home economics, psychology and manual training.


The campus was designated a Registered National Historic Landmark in 1965.

 An aireal view of the Peabody esplanade.  Image courtesy of University School of Nashville Archives. (  Accessed 2-22-2018


An early Peabody College basketball team.  Image courtesy of Donna Albino,  Accessed 2-21-2018


            School colors: Peabody retained the Garnet and

                                    Blue of the University of Nashville


Peabody Normal College students participated in sports as part of the University of Nashville varsity and intramural teams.  That students from George Peabody College for Teachers could major in physical education encouraged an interest in sports.  Female students, who made up the bulk of the Peabody students, had strong varsity basketball teams in the 1920's.  The school made headlines in 1922 when a group of female students formed two football teams--the Fighting Danes and the Vikings-- who played at least one game, a 7-0 victory for the Danes.


In 1954 a Peabody coed named Nancy Reed won the national collegiate golf championship.  Also in 1954 the yearbook shows that a men’s basketball had been formed for the first time since before World War II.


Even before the formal merger with Vanderbilt, newspapers in 1971 noted that Vanderbilt varsity teams would be able to include students from Peabody--especially in tennis, golf and swimming.   Peabody officials were annoyed at the charge that this was a ploy to enable Vanderbilt to recruit athletes that could not meet their own entrance requirements.

Note: Images are used in accordance with their “terms of use” as I understand those terms.  Recopying or republishing these images may be restricted or forbidden.

bottom of page