Mary Elizabeth Rice: Establishing The Smithsonian Marine Station

Mary Elizabeth Rice was the first director of the Smithsonian Marine Station in the 1970s, where she created a program to support visiting scientists and fellowships for graduate students and postdoctoral students. Over the years, work done at the research station has led to over 800 scientific papers and been Continue Reading

Elsie Bramell: A Pioneer in Museum Anthropology and Australian Archaeology

Elsie Bramell and Fred McCarthy in the Australian Museum Anthropology Department 1933. Photographer Anthony Musgrave. Australian Museum Archives AMS514_VA180_8. Reproduction Rights Australian Museum

When Elsie Bramell (1909-1985) began working at the Australian Museum in 1933 she was the first woman and the first university educated person to take up a scientific position in the Anthropology Department. She was appointed Scientific Assistant, senior to her colleague and future husband Fred McCarthy, who had worked Continue Reading

Margaret Mee: Explorer/Conservationist, Botanist/Scientific Illustrator

Bromelia anticantha Bertol. Cultivated in São Paulo. Procured from Minas Gerais. Margaret Mee, 1964. Permission for reproduction received from Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Rare Book Collection, Washington, D.C., Online Exhibits, Highlights from the Collections, Margaret Mee, The Paintings.

Margaret Mee, née Brown (1909-1988), was a British contemporary artist considered to be one of the most remarkable women of the twentieth century.1 She was referred to as the premier female explorer of the Brazilian rainforest and an outstanding botanical artist. Her voice was one of the first courageous ones to be raised against the exploitative destruction of Amazonia and she spoke for its conservation until her death.

Bertha “Bertie” Parker Cody: First Female Native American Archaeologist

Bertha Parker Pallan [Cody] (1907-1978) is considered one of the first female Native American archaeologists.

Bertha “Bertie” Parker Cody is widely considered to be the first female Native American archaeologist. Cody, who also went by her Seneca name Yewas, was born in Chautauqua County, New York in 1907. Her mother, Beulah Tahamont, was an actor of Abenaki descent. Her father, Arthur C. Parker, was an archaeologist of mixed Seneca descent, and the first president of the Society for American Archaeology.

Wang Hao-t’ing: Illustrator for the Central Asiatic Natural History Expedition of the American Museum of Natural History

Wang Hao-t’ing (using the Chinese naming order with family name first) was a Chinese artist who was commissioned to accompany the American Museum of Natural History’s (AMNH) Third Asiatic Expedition in 1921-1926 to document frogs, snakes, salamanders, and lizards in the region. Hao-t’ing painted beautiful, strikingly realistic watercolor paintings of Continue Reading

Courtney Letts de Espil: Borden-Field Museum Alaska Arctic Expedition of 1927

“One must wear white in stalking Arctic game,” quips author Courtney Letts de Espil (Mrs. John Borden) in her 1928 book The Cruise of the Northern Light, which is a 317-page account of the Borden-Field Museum Alaska Arctic Expedition of 1927.1 Public Excitement As The Expedition Launches While newspaper accounts Continue Reading

Janaki Ammal Edavaleth Kakkat: Cytogeneticist, Sugarcane Revolutionizing Botanist

K. Janaki Ammal was born in Kerala, India on November 4th, 1897. One of the first women in the U.S. to earn a doctorate in botany, she went on to develop new hybrids of sugarcane. After shifting here focus to research, she published The Chromosome Atlas of Cultivated Plants.

Joyce Allan – Australian Conchologist and Artist

Joyce Allan at work, Australian Museum circa 1930. Australian Museum Archives AMS502. Reproduction Rights Australian Museum.

Illustrator, conchologist (i.e., one who studies mollusk shells) and museum curator Joyce K. Allan (1896-1966) was the first woman to be employed as a scientist by the Australian Museum and the first elected female fellow of the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales. A Fascination with Shells Allan was Continue Reading