Elsie Lincoln Benedict (1883-1970)
Commanding Lecturer, Human Analyst, Author and Expert on Personality Types
"Minds like metals grow brighter from frequent use."-- Elsie Lincoln Benedict
Born in Osborne County, Kansas in a town called Alton, Elsie Lincoln Benedict was the oldest child in a family with five other children. In the late 1890s, her parents, William and Adella Vandegrift moved the family to Colorado.
In 1906, Elsie studied law at the University of Denver. She was a commanding orator like her ancestor Abraham Lincoln. She used her skills to pay her way through college by participating in debates and contests. She was the first woman to win a place on an intercollegiate debating team. She won twelve gold medals for her public speaking skills and was known as the star orator of the Pike's Peak region of Colorado.
In 1909, Governor Shaffroth of Colorado appointed Elsie as the official reporter of the Colorado Senate. She served in that capacity for three years and was then appointed chief of the State Land Office Advertising Department. In 1911, she became political orator of the newspaper the Denver Express and then later on for the Denver Evening Post, which was the largest daily newspaper in Colorado.
In November of 1914, at the age of 31, she married Ralph Paine Benedict, who was known nationally as a lecturer and author on the topic of personality.
Elsie's mastery of public speaking and persuasion did not go unnoticed.
Women were already allowed to vote in Colorado when the national movement for women's suffrage caught fire. In March of 1914, Mrs. Mary C. C. Bradford, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, herself an advocate for women's rights, recommended Elsie as "the best campaigner Colorado can offer in the Eastern struggle for women's suffrage." Elsie had also received a recommendation from Judge Ben Lindsey, the founder of the Juvenile Court of Denver, who was known worldwide as a social reformer. In his letter, Judge Lindsey said, "Mrs. Benedict is one of the best known of our most progressive Denver women. She has held positions of trust and responsibility for several years and has been on the editorial staff of the leading Denver newspapers in the most important capacities." Elsie took up the charge and campaigned vigorously in all the major cities in the State of New York so that women would be given the right to vote. She became an organizer for the National American Woman Suffrage Association.
Lecturing to Thousands
In the 1920s, Elsie Lincoln Benedict began giving free lectures on the psychological topic of Human Analysis. She and her husband had written a book called How to Analyze People on Sight--The Five Human Types. Controversial even in its day, the book categorized individual's personalities by their body type and facial shape. In this power couple, Elsie was the more prominent. An attractive, petite woman with a booming voice and commanding presence, Elsie garnered attention wherever she went. She was fearless and ahead of her time regarding the topics she selected for her lectures: Sex Psychology, How to Choose a Mate, How to Keep Your Husband Contented, How to Make More Money, Choosing Colors to Fit Your Personality, How to Get Anything You Want, and How to Succeed in Business. Her teachings regarding "the practical methods of modern science" and lectures on the power of the subconscious mind would align with today's thought leaders who teach The Law of Attraction.
During a lecture on the subconscious mind, Elsie stated: "Your subconscious is like a garden. You can cultivate it intelligently or you can allow it to run wild. In either case it will bring forth in exact accordance with the seeds your habit has been dropping in the soil. A sensible gardener takes care of his plot of ground, keeps the weeds out and carefully plants, waters, cultivates and nurtures the other things he wants, AND NO OTHERS."
In 1926, the Milwaukee Sentinel reported: "Over three million people have heard the helpful lectures of this most human, humorous speaker. She has recently completed a triumphal lecture tour around the world, where she was entertained, listened to and honored by leading men and women in all the great capitals of Europe and the Orient. One hour at her meeting will do you more good than a vacation." Fueled by the success of her lectures, Elsie founded the Benedict School of Opportunity, which was a traveling university for men and women. Throughout the 1920s, her fame continued to grow and she became the world's best known lecturer.
In a 1922 lecture at the Scottish Rite Auditorium, Elsie stated: "Most people use less brains in selecting the person with whom they are to spend their lives than they do in choosing an automobile, a bicycle or a cut of steak. Love isn't enough; there must also be understanding." She and her husband collaborated together and supported each other in their individual endeavors.
They bought a cottage in Carmel, California that they named The Benedict Cottage. They rented the cottage to their friend, famous evangelist, Aimee Semple McPherson, who was also commanding huge audiences for her sermons and faith-healings during the 1920s.
Outwitting the Depression
Elsie continued to command huge crowds throughout the depression. Her talks inspired others to make changes in their lives and to take the appropriate actions to ensure that their financial situations would improve. She wrote the book "Outwitting the Depression" and founded The International School of Opportunity.
When Ralph Benedict died in 1941, Elsie was heart-broken. She retired from public life and spent the remainder of her life traveling and visiting with family. She passed away in San Francisco, California on February 15, 1970.
In 2008, her beloved cottage in Carmel was listed for 6 million dollars.
As of 2013, the book she wrote with her husband Ralph Benedict, "How to Analyze People by Sight--The Five Human Types," is in the top 25 ebooks read on Project Gutenberg.
A Partial List of Books Authored by Elsie Lincoln Benedict
- Brainology: Understanding, Developing and Training Your Brain
- How to Analyze People on Sight--The Five Human Types
- Practical Psychology
- The Development of Personality Types
- The Development of Personality
- Unlocking the Subconscious
- How to Make More Money
- Child Training
- Public Speaking
- How to Succeed in Business
- Psychology and Business Success
- Outwitting the Depression
- The Individual in a New Era