Elizabeth Fries Ellet was one of six children born to Dr. William A. Lummis and his second wife, Sarah Maxwell. She was educated at the Friends' Female Seminary in Aurora, New York. In 1835, she married Dr. William H. Ellet, a professor of chemistry at Columbia College in New York City. Soon after their marriage, the Ellets moved to Columbia, South Carolina, where Dr. Ellet took a position as chemistry professor. They returned to New York City in 1849.
Ellet published eighteen books between 1835 and 1870. She was interested in women's history, as seen in one of her best-known works, Women of the American Revolution (1848). In this work Ellet used previously ignored sources to trace the lives and contributions of women to the American revolutionary war.
Another of Ellet's books, Family Pictures from the Bible, focused on lessons for families found in scripture. She considered the Bible a sourcebook of principles for family life. For example, Genesis 18:19 implied Abraham offered leadership in teaching his household and so taught that fathers should lead their households. Unlike Aguilar and Hyneman, who idealized Sarah,