Annie Smith Peck – RIC class of 1872 – one of 12 new RI Heritage Hall of Fame members

In his web-page biography of Annie Smith Peck, RIC professor Russell A. Potter wrote: “Without a doubt, [she] is among the most distinguished alumnae of Rhode Island College; indeed she is one of the most notable women in the history of Rhode Island – it's a tragedy that so few people know of her life and accomplishments.”

Now, thanks to the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame, more people will know of her eclectic and memorable achievements.

Illustration from a Hassan cigarette card in the
collection of Russell A. Potter.
On Nov. 15, Peck, an 1872 graduate of the Rhode Island Normal School (a forerunner of RIC), was posthumously inducted into the Heritage Hall of Fame. RIC president Nancy Carriuolo accepted on Peck’s behalf.

Peck, a mountaineer, linguist, author, professor and lecturer, was one of 12 prominent Rhode Islanders from the period 1900-20 who became Heritage Hall of Fame members in a ceremony at the Conley Conference Center in Providence. Accepting for the 12 were descendants or representatives of institutions with which the inductees were associated.

Born in Providence in 1850, Peck was a mountain climber, who scaled peaks all over the world, including her record-breaking ascent of the north peak of Peru’s 22,205-foot Mount Huascaran in 1908 at the age of 58. She was also the third woman to climb the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps.

She was a professor at Purdue University and Smith College, a public lecturer and strong advocate for women’s suffrage.

An article on the website of the non-profit organization Living on Earth, described how Peck, who was nearly 80 when airlines began transporting passengers, embarked on a seven-month journey – primarily by plane – across South America. The trip resulted in the book “Flying Over South America: Twenty Thousand Miles by Air,” which she wrote and published in 1932.

Potter noted that Peck continued traveling and mountain climbing around the world until nearly the end of her life. Her last ascent – at age 82 – was of the 5,636-foot Mount Madison in New Hampshire.

Peck died in 1935 at the age of 84.

Click here for more on Annie Smith Peck by Russell Potter.

Also inducted into the Heritage Hall of Fame: Major Gen. Zenas R. Bliss (1835-1900), Dr. Charles Carroll (1876-1936), Rev. John B. Diman (1863-1949), Chief Justice Thomas Durfee (1826-1901), Amasa Eaton (1841-1914), Col. Robert Hale Ives Goddard (1837-1916), John Gorham (1820-1898), Dr. Ramon Guiteras (1858-1917), Dr. John William Keefe (1863-1935), Walter Scott (1841-1924) and Bishop William Stang (1854-1907).