Elsie Lincoln (Vandegrift) Benedict was born in Alton, Osborne County, Kansas on November 3, 1885. She was the eldest of six children born to William and Adelia Vandegrift and during the 1920s became a celebrated author, woman suffragist, human analyst and lecturer on psychology.
Elsie grew up in Alton until her family moved to Colorado in the mid to late 1890s. She married Ralph Paine Benedict, a publisher and nationally known lecturer and author on personality topics, on November 1, 1914, in Denver, Colorado.
Elsie was the more prominent one of the couple – Elsie was a pint sized dynamo with a booming voice who commanded attention where ever she went. Ralph stayed in the background, but he was as essential to their success as was Elsie.
Elsie first lectured on woman’s suffrage under the name Elsie Payne Benedict in Denver, Colorado. Later she owned the Benedict Cottage at Carmel, California, which was rented by her friend, famous evangelist Amiee Semple McPherson.
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.”
“Elsie Lincoln Benedict has a brilliant record. She is like a fresh breath of Colorado ozone. Her ideas are as stimulating as the health-giving breezes of the Rockies.”–New York Evening Mail, April 16, 1914.
“Elsie Lincoln Benedict is known nationally, having conducted lecture courses in many of the large Eastern cities. Her work is based upon the practical methods of modern science as worked out in the world’s leading laboratories where exhaustive tests are applied to determine individual types, talents, vocational bents and possibilities.”–San Francisco Bulletin, January 25, 1919.
“Several hundred people were turned away from the Masonic Temple last night where Elsie Lincoln Benedict, famous human analyst, spoke on How to Analyze People on Sight. Asked how she could draw and hold a crowd of 3,000 for a lecture, she said: ‘Because I talk on the one subject on earth in which every individual is most interested – himself.’”–Seattle Times, June 2, 1920.
“Elsie Lincoln Benedict is a woman who has studied deeply under genuine scientists and is demonstrating to thousands at the Auditorium each evening that she knows the connection between an individual’s external characteristics and his inner traits.”–Minneapolis News, November 7, 1920.
“Over fifty thousand people heard Elsie Lincoln Benedict at the City Auditorium during her six weeks lecture engagement in Milwaukee.”– Milwaukee Leader, April 2, 1921.
Elsie was the author of seven books: Famous Lovers (1927); Brainology: Understanding, Developing and Training your Brain, Elsie Lincoln Benedict School of Opportunity (1928); The Spell of the South Seas (1930); Inspirational Poems (1931); Stimulating Stories (1931); Benedictines (1931); So This Is Australia (1932); and Spain Before It Happened (1937); and two with her husband Ralph, How to Analyze People on Sight–The Five Human Types (1921), and Our Trip around the World (1925).
Around 1920 Elsie and Ralph adopted a son, Tony, in Australia. Tony flew with the Royal Australian Air Force in Libya and after World War II returned to Australia to live.
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.
To read a free online copy of Elsie and Ralph’s book How to Analyze People on Sight-The Five Human Types (1921), go to this link: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/30601/30601-h/30601-h.htm
And be sure to “like” the Facebook page dedicated to Elsie: https://www.facebook.com/ELBenedict