Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search results

Peck, Annie S. (Annie Smith), 1850-1935



  • Existence: October 19, 1850 - July 18, 1935

Biographical Information

Annie Smith Peck was a Latin and elocution professor at Purdue from 1881-1883. Though her career at Purdue was brief, she earned recognition for her teaching skills from both students and faculty. Her real fame, however, involved her mountain-climbing capabilities, an interest she developed while pursuing classical studies in Germany. She scaled a number of moderate-sized mountains in Europe and in the United States, including Mount Shasta in California (14, 380 feet). In 1895, she climbed the Matterhorn, becoming the first woman, and quite possibly the first person ever, to do so. She was also the first American woman in the western hemisphere to climb higher than 18, 314 feet, upon scaling Mount Orizaba in Mexico.

In addition to being a successful mountaineer, Peck was also an aggressive supporter of women's rights, planting a "Vote for Women" sign at the top of Mount Coropuna (21,250 feet) at the age of 61. She kept climbing until the age of 84, the year before her death. The Lima (Peru) Geographical Society has named a mountain peak in her honor. She is also the author of four guidebooks: A Search for the Apex of America: High Mountain Climbing in Peru and Bolivia (1912), The South American Tour (1913), Industrial and Commercial South America (1922), and Flying Over South America: Twenty Thousand Miles by Air (1932). Peck's last book, Flying Over South America, includes rich black and white pictures from her travels, ranging from aerial views of different landscapes to people, and it is argued that her adventure by flight was the longest made by any North American at the time. She also used her air travels to serve as an example to those who were skeptical or afraid to fly, as she states, " was merely a novel and delightful journey, on which I proceeded throughout the entire distance without a qualm." Peck also thoughtfully writes, " 1903, when I sailed for South America to climb one of the great peaks of the Andes, I did not dream of ever flying over or around them."


Annie S. Peck collection file. Purdue University Archives and Special Collections. Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies, West Lafayette, IN.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Annie S. Peck letter and photographs

 Collection — Box: Communal Collections 9, Placement: 01, Folder: 1
Identifier: MSF 536
Scope and Contents The Annie S. Peck letter and photograph includes one letter from and two photographs of Annie Smith Peck. The letter is written to an unknown recipient regarding the scheduling of a lecture, the first photograph is from a magazine and depicts Peck in her mountain climbing gear, and the second is a photocopied portrait of Peck.
Dates: undated