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Women of the Hall

Year Honored: 1994
Birth: 1818 - Death: 1889
Born In: Massachusetts, United States of America
Died In: Massachusetts, United States of America
Achievements: Science
Educated In: Massachusetts
Schools Attended:
Worked In: Massachusetts, New York

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Maria Mitchell

In thinking about equality of the sexes, astronomer Maria Mitchell wrote, "The eye that directs a needle in the delicate meshes of embroidery, will equally well bisect a star with the spider web of the micrometer." Taught the basics of astronomy by her father as a girl on Nantucket, in 1847 Mitchell's sharp eyes and mind determined the orbit of a new comet. She was soon famous, and received a gold medal from the king of Denmark for her accomplishment, as well as membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the first woman to achieve this honor. She was then elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science. American women raised the funds to give her a state-of-the-art telescope, and in 1865 she accepted an appointment to Vassar College to become director of their observatory and professor of astronomy. She was a beloved teacher, and her private research was focused on the study of the sun, Jupiter and Saturn. She was chosen for membership in the American Philosophical Society in 1869 and helped found the Association for the Advancement of Women in 1873.
Additional Sources:
Booker, Margaret Moore. Among the Stars: The Life of Maria Mitchell. Nantucket: Mill Hill Press, 2007.

Begland, Renee. Maria Mitchell and the Sexing of Science: An Astronomer among the American Romantics. Boston: Beacon Press, 2008.

Maria Mitchell Association,, 4 Vestal Street, Nantucket, MA. Founded in 1903, includes Mitchell House, a natural science museum, aquarium, two observatories and a science library containing the Maria Mitchell, Mitchell Family and MMA Archives and Special Collections.

Gormley, Beatrice. Maria Mitchell: The Soul of an Astronomer. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing co., 1995.

Wright, Helen, with Debra Meloy Elmegreen and Frederick R. Chromey. Sweeper in the Sky: The Life of Maria Mitchel. Attic Studio Pr., 1997.

Albers, Henry, editor. Maria Mitchell: Life, Letters & Journals. Reprint Services Corp., Reprint Ed., 1991.

Guillemin, Amedee. Wonders of the Moon. New York: Scribner, Armstrong and Company, 1873. NOTES: Translated form French by M.G. Mead Ed., with additions by Maria Mitchell

"The Collegiate Education of Girls." Read before the Association for the Advancement of Women's Annual Congress. Boston, October, 1880. Boston: New England Pub. Co., 1881. NOTES: Also available on Woman and the Higher Education edited by Anna C. Brackett. New York: Harper, 1893.

Records of the Maria Mitchell Association 1938-1977, 10 in. Nantucket Historical Association. Nantucket, Massachusetts. NOTES: Includes biographical materials relating to Mitchell.

Papers 1862-1890 Vassar College, Special Collections, Vassar College Libraries. Poughkeepsie, New York.