American Women in Science: From Colonial Times to 1950

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9780874367409: American Women in Science: From Colonial Times to 1950

Profiles 400 women who lived or started their careers before 1950, many of whom received little if any recognition for their contributions.

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About the Author:

Martha J. Bailey is life sciences librarian at Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.

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Against the odds, women have made contributions in every field of scientific endeavor. American Women in Science is a biographical treatment of more than 400 women in the social, physical, and medical sciences and technology who began their careers before 1950. Coverage ranges from early female scientists with no formal training, such as Elizabeth Agassiz, founder of Radcliffe College, to Nobel Prize winners Rosalyn Yalow and Barbara McClintock. Many women had to study in Europe, such as Gerty Theresa Cori at the University of Prague. Some were the first women to graduate from their institutions, such as Nora Barney, a civil engineer from Cornell University, or Florence Bascom, the first female doctorate from Johns Hopkins University. Contributors to home economics, such as Fannie Farmer, are treated as are popular nature writers. Minority women are included: Sophie Aberle, a Native American, and Katherine Dunham and Zora Neale Hurston, African Americans, all of whom were anthropologists.

The introduction is a historical overview of the professional opportunities that were open to female scientists in the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries. For many, government agencies offered employment. Each entry includes the birth and (when appropriate) death dates of the subject, as well as educational background and employment history. The accompanying essay of several paragraphs to a page describes achievements and major contributions to her particular field. Closing each entry is a bibliography of other sources in which the subject can be found. Black-and-white photographs are provided for about 45 of the women.

When this work was compared with other sources, such as Women in Science (MIT Press, 1986) or Women in Chemistry and Physics [RBB Ap 15 94], there was not much duplication. Women in Chemistry and Physics, for example, treats only 75 women and they are not all Americans. American Women in Science is a unique reference source that highlights many women who have been neglected in other biographical sources. It is highly recommended for academic, public, and secondary school libraries.

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