Ellen Webster Palmer
"Every boy represents a human soul; a character forming for eternity. The life for the next few years will decide his future... Many a man who beats his life out behind prison bars is a victim of misdirected energy. Truly, the wealth of a nation is its children."
Ellen Webster Palmer, History of the B.I.A. of Wilkes-Barre, 1898
Anthracite coal fueled America's Industrial Revolution and developed the Wyoming Valley. It also helped create a working class living in ignorance and poverty, struggling to make ends meet with the assistance of their children's hard labor. Late-19th-century social reformers throughout the nation's industrial cities strived to improve the quality of life and provide education for the less fortunate, many of whom were foreign-speaking immigrants.
Ellen Webster Palmer championed the Wyoming Valley's less fortunate, the youth in particular. Born in Plattsburgh, New York, Palmer trained as a teacher. She later married prominent Wilkes-Barre attorney and one-time Pennsylvania Attorney General Henry Palmer. Despite her privileged life, she devoted her energy to the children of the coal mines. In 1891 she founded the Boys' Industrial Association (BIA), raising funds and developing programs to educate, entertain and prepare the child laborers for a better future.
[Photo captions, from top to bottom, read]
• Statue of Ellen Webster Palmer, "The Friend of the Working Boy," located on the Wilkes-Barre River Common near the Luzerne County Courthouse.
• Ellen Webster Palmer reading to several members of the Boys' Industrial Association, circa 1900.
• Ellen Webster Palmer, founder of the Boys' Industrial Association.
Erected by Luzerne County, Luzerne County Historical Society, Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, PA Dept of Environ Protect, American Heritage Rivers, US Army Corps of Engineers.
Location. 41° 15.072′ N, 75° 52.731′ W. Marker is in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, in Luzerne County. Marker is on River Street north of Jackson Street, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is on the Luzerne County Courthouse grounds. Marker is at or
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Center of Law, Politics and Power (here, next to this marker); All for the View (here, next to this marker); Luzerne County (within shouting distance of this marker); U.S.S. Wilkes-Barre (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Korean War Memorial (about 300 feet away); 109th Field Artillery Battalion (about 300 feet away); a different marker also named Ellen Webster Palmer (about 300 feet away); Vietnam Veterans Memorial (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Wilkes-Barre.
More about this marker. The fiberglass marker is deteriorating.
Also see . . . Ellen Webster Palmer and the Breaker Boys. (Submitted on November 23, 2017, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
Categories. • Charity & Public Work • Education • Women •
Credits. This page was last revised on November 23, 2017. This page originally submitted on November 23, 2017, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 60 times since then and 11 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on November 23, 2017, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.