Today’s Google Doodle honors George Peabody, a man you may not be familiar with, but whose work created a foundation for modern philanthropy efforts. The illustration adorning the search engine’s homepage shows Peabody surrounded by children who are opening books that lead to other imaginative worlds. It is an online depiction of a mural at San Francisco’s George Peabody Elementary School.
Peabody did not grow up well-off. According to Yale University’s Peabody Museum of Natural History, the museum’s namesake was born in 1795 in South Danvers, Massachusetts. Peabody’s formal education ended when he was just 11 and began an apprenticeship at a local general store.
That work served him well: He later moved to D.C., where he managed a store of his own. By his early twenties, Peabody had over $40,000 to his name — a lot of money at the time — and had advanced in his business by becoming a partner with a wholesale dry goods company. The Philanthropy Roundtable reports that he also served in the army during the War of 1812. When Peabody moved to London in 1837, he built his own banking company, increasing his wealth even more.
Instead of saving it all for himself, he vowed to give it away, with a particular focus on funding educational efforts. In total, he gave away over $8 million. His affiliation with Yale came in 1860, when he funded his nephew's schooling there and created the natural history museum. According to Google's Doodle Blog, Peabody was later given the Congressional Gold Medal for his donations of over $2 million to educational efforts, which is equivalent to almost $30 million in today's terms.
Watch the a time lapse of the mural's creation below and head to the Doodle Blog to see early drafts of the design.
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