Part I


A survey of the membership lists and secretaries' reports in the transactions, journals, and proceedings of scientific societies shows a substantial amount of participation by women. Two years after the American Association for the Advancement of Science was organized in 1848, Maria Mitchell and Margaretta Morris became members. In 1856 the name of Bernice D. Ames was added and in 1859 Almira Lincoln Phelps joined. This organization did not meet during the years 1861-1866. Women members rapidly increased until by 1875 there were 80 (8). (Membership lists must be taken as approximate since they depend on the accuracy of the secretary's records. Women's names, however, were almost invariably preceded by Miss or Mrs. in the early records so the identification of sex was generally possible.)

Scientific organizations recognized women for their achievements also. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences made Maria Mitchell an associate fellow in 1848, apparently in recognition of her achievement in astronomy, the first discovery of a telescopic comet (Memoirs, Vol. IX pt. 2 p xii 1848, p. 52). The Philadelphia Academy of Natural Science elected its first woman member, Lucy Say, in 1841. Mrs. Say illustrated her husband's volume on shells and gave a large collection of his materials including books and the original plates to this organization.

The second member elected to this prestigious group was Margaretta Morris, an internationally known entomologist, in 1859 (See Part II for Morris). By 1875 there were 26 female members a1though only the two named were members before 1861 (9).

A list of members of the Essex Institute showed the names of five women in the first group of 84 members in 1834. This Natural History Society was organized in 1833 to promote the study of natural history in Essex County and to procure a library and a cabinet of specimens (10). In 1847 this organization was joined to the Essex Historical Society and was renamed the Essex Institute. Women were "welcomed" into this society and they continued to become members of the new group.

While the Naturalist's Directory of the Essex Institute was not published until 1866, it included the names of 25 women who were already known in the field of science by specialty. The editors had obtained the names of naturalists by sending questionnaires to known naturalists asking for the names of persons they would recommend for inclusion. Many of these 25 women must have been known for their work by 1861 to have been recommended by their contemporaries. Some of the specialties listed for these women were marine algae, ferns and medical botany (11).

Rudolph's paper on women in nineteenth-century botany lists 12 names for the years 1800-1860. Whether some of these are the same women in different years is not clear. Twenty years later he found 272. Rudolph reviewed a sample of 1,185 women's names to be found in various journals and reports for the years 1800-1900 (12).

Women were active in state agricultural and horticultural societies where they exhibited plants and animals and won prizes. In the transactions of the New Hampshire State Agricultural Society for the years 1850 to 1860 Mrs. Betsy Whitehouse and Mary Farley received prizes for the animals they exhibited and Mrs. R. L. Robinson received a prize for "transparent window shades" (pp. 127, 155, 136, year 1857).

The records in the History of the New Jersey Agricultural Society for 1781-1940 list awards to two women, Mrs. Henry Van Dyke in 1841 and Miss Margaret R. Shotwell in 1856, both of whom had woven silk fabric from silk worms they had raised themselves.

The Massachusetts Horticultural Society elected its members. For the years 1858-1875 two women's names appear. This organization was founded in 1829 but only the above membership records appear in the History, which was printed in 1880. A report on several early women gardeners is included.

In later years the membership and participation of women in these and other such societies increased rapidly until papers and essays by women were appearing in the records. The numbers of state societies of this sort also increased rapidly as the country expanded. (Eliza Lucas is known for her development of indigo as a cash crop but no good records of her methods has been found.)