Image of Elsie Lincoln Benedict


Lifetime: 1885 - 1970 Passed: ≈ 54 years ago




United States

Elsie Lincoln Benedict

Elsie Lincoln Benedict was advertised as the best known women's speaker during the 1920s, speaking to over 3 million people in her lifetime and writing on what Napoleon Hill and Dale Carnegie and a long list of men would do later. She was an American suffragist leader representing the State of Colorado for the Women's Right to Vote. She promoted the law of attraction through her many worldwide lectures. She was the founder of brainology, a famous course on scientific mind training.

Benedict was born on November 1, 1885 in Osborne, Kansas to William and Adella (Allen) Vandergrift. She was a student at the University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado; Columbia University, Chicago, Illinois; Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Massachusetts specializing in psychology and anthropology. In 1914, married Ralph Paine Benedict, of Boston, Massachusetts, a Harvard graduate. Formerly writer for Denver Evening Post and other newspapers, Chautauqua lecturer, organizer for National American Woman Suffrage Association,: Founder 1918 Benedict School of Opportunity (lecture and correspondent courses), headquarters in New York and San Francisco, Member National Association of Pen Women, National Association Business and Professional Women, Author.

During her college career, she held over 12 gold medals for oratory. She was the first woman to win a place in an intercollegiate debate team.

In 1909, Colorado Governor John F. Shafroth appointed her the official reporter of the Colorado Senate. After serving this capacity for three years, she was appointed Chief of the Advertising Department of the State Land Office. In 1913, she resigned to become a political editor of the Denver Press and later of the Denver Post, the largest daily in Colorado at the time. Progressive Judge Ben Lindsey wrote of Mrs. Benedict's speaking efforts on woman's suffrage, "Mrs. Benedict is one of the best known of our progressive Denver woman. She has held positions of trust and responsibility and for several years has been on the editorial staff of leading Denver newspapers in the most important capacities. She is one of the real genuine women of Denver, who has always stood for right and justice."

She drew big audiences here in the pre-World War II decades, discussing a wide variety of subjects from choosing personality colors in clothes to fit the individual, to doing well in marriage and in business. In a 1922 lecture at Scottish Rite Auditorium, she commented, “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.”

Benedict served as head of the Benedict School of Opportunity, "The Traveling University for Men and Women", was founder of International Opportunity League, and president of the Elsie Lincoln Benedict Club. In her lifetime, she traveled to 55 countries and her book, "Our Trip Around the World", was considered the most extensive travel book of its time. She recorded her travels, not only in her writings, but in her postcard and scrapbook collection.

Around 1920, Elsie had already achieved her goal in becoming a millionaire and built a cobblestone cottage home in the Carmel Highlands, California, with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean which served as a quiet and spiritual place which she and Ralph could continue their writings and host friends. A 1929 postcard taken by photographer, L.S. Slevin, featured the exterior of her cobblestone cottage named "House by the Side of the Road". In May 1926, American Evangelist and Four Square founder, Aimee Semple McPherson, disappeared for months and the case remains unsolved. In the trial following her reappearance, five witnesses testified they saw Aimee at the Benedict cottage in the Carmel Highlands. In Don Ryan's 1927 book, Angel's Flight, he writes of both Elsie Lincoln Benedict and Aimee Semple McPherson within the same few pages as both being prominent, influential and motivating female leaders of the time. Because Aimee was very careful not to associate in public with those people that her religious followers would see as suspect, personal friendships were kept in private. Elsie's work drew heavily on the deep American metaphysical tradition, and Aimee would have kept her distance from that (as she kept her distance from Theosophy, Christian Science, etc.) of a public relationship to Elsie.

In 1932, Elsie and Ralph adopted a son, Anthony Gorman, whom she renamed Elson (Elsie's son), while lecturing in Sydney, Australia. In 1934, at the age of 15, he was the youngest student at the time to be accepted into California State Institute of Technology. While at Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, he developed the first Squib for NASA and corresponded with Albert Einstein. Anthony left Caltech to fly in the Royal Australian Air Force (ANZAC) in Libya after World War II. Anthony married and returned to the United States to raise his family of two daughters and one son.

Elsie's husband, Ralph Benedict died in 1941. Devastated by the loss of her husband, Elsie retired from public life. She spent the rest of her life traveling the world and visiting family. She died in San Francisco, California on February 15, 1970. Luigi Kleinsasser's dedicates his 2012 book, "The Book of Life: Find Your Perfect Self, Job, Partner, Life" to the inspiration and research of Elsie Lincoln and Ralph Payne Benedict.

She shares a crypt with her husband at Forest Lawn in Glendale, California in the Gardenia Terrace.

In 2013, her original travel scrapbooks, pictures, journal, lecture award trophies, and her 300 page manuscript on Australia was returned to her family heirs as they came across it on EBay just three days before the auction was ending. True to Elsie's writings, "There are no accidents. Everything that happens in our individual world, just as every occurrence in the material universe, is brought about by the operation of law." Her works are currently undergoing republishing by her family, which still owns the copyright to her works from 1923 and beyond. The Elsie Lincoln Vandergrift Memorial Scholarship was established at the University of Denver to a student who shows promise and accomplishment in psychology.

Books by Elsie Lincoln Benedict

How to Analyze People on Sight Through the Science of Human Analysis: The Five Human Types Cover image

How to Analyze People on Sight Through the Science of Human Analysis: The Five Human Types

Philosophy Non-Fiction
Self Help

How to Analyze People on Sight or How to Analyze People on Sight Through the Science of Human Analysis: The Five Human Types is a 1921 book by Elsie Lincoln Benedict and Ralph Paine Benedict. Published and bound by the Roycrofters in East Aurora, New...