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Profile of the Day: Annie Smith Peck

On this day in 1850, mountaineer, lecturer, and suffragist Annie Smith Peck was born.

Image: Annie Smith Peck / Library of Congress

Peck was born on October 19, 1850 in Providence, Rhode Island and was the youngest of five children born to George Bacheler Peck and Ann Power Smith. Growing up, Peck wished to attend Brown University, just like her father and brothers had done, but she was refused admission due to her gender. She later moved to Siginaw, Michigan and found work as a teacher. Still interested in receiving her education, Peck enrolled at the University of Michigan, against the objections of her family. After earning her undergraduate and master’s degree in Greek, Peck went abroad to study archaeology at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. It was during this time in Europe that Peck discovered her passion for mountaineering.

In 1895, Peck’s ascent of the Matterhorn brought her fame and notoriety due to her attire. Peck defied convention by wearing a pair of baggy-kneed knickerbockers trousers and a tunic. Her unusual climbing outfit attracted the attention of the press and outrage from the public. Peck continued to climb mountains all through her life. In 1911, at the age of 61, Peck climbed to the eastern summit of Coropuna in Peru. An ardent suffragist, Peck planted a “Votes for Women” banner once she reached the top. She made her final climb at Mount Madison (5,374 ft) in New Hampshire at the age of 82!

In addition to her mountain adventures, Peck lectured extensively around the world and wrote four books encouraging travel and exploration.

Peck died on July 18, 1935 at the age of 84.

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