Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday Mieography

Maria Salmon Mitchell was born in 1818 in Nantucket, Mass, to William and Lydia Mitchell. She had nine siblings. Her family followed the Quaker religion, and placed high value on education. The Quakers also believed in intellectual equality between the sexes, and educated the boys and girls reflecting this.

Maria attended school locally up until she was eleven, when her father actually founded his own school. She became a student there, and also her father's teaching assistant. At home, her father taught her astronomy, using his personal telescope. Her father's school eventually closed, and she continued her education at a "school for young ladies". She opened her own school, eventually, and also became a librarian.
In the Autumn of 1847, she discovered a Comet, and named it "Miss Mitchell's Comet". She won an award that had been established by the King of Denmark years prior for this discovery, the second woman to have discovered a comet. (It was a gold medal).
She became the first woman member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and she also joined the American Association for the Advancement of Science, being the first woman to do that, as well. She took a job at the U.S. Nautical Almanac office, and spent her time there calculating tables and positions of Venus. This was during the 1850's.
She eventually became the professor of astronomy at Vassar College, she was actually the first person, male or female, appointed to the faculty at Vassar. She was also the director of their Observatory. While there, she learned that many of the younger male professors were making more money than she did. She insisted on a raise. And she got it.
She was an active member of the suffragist movement, friends with various women, such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She gave up wearing cotton in protest of Slavery, and continued on to co found the American Association for the Advancement of Women. She died at the age of 70, in Massachusetts. There is an observatory in Nantucket that bears her name, as well as a few museums. She was also posthumously inducted into the U.S. National Woman's Hall of Fame. There was also a ship named after her during World War II.


sybil law said...

There's a U.S Women's National Hall of Fame (I probably got that backwards)?!

Daryl said...

Fascinating .. as always I learned something new!

Anonymous said...

This is all new info to me. Very interesting.