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Harriet Chalmers Adams. Harriet Chalmers Adams. Harriet Chalmers Adams, 1908. Glass negative. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-DIG-npcc-19900).

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Adams, Harriet Chalmers (22 October 1875–17 July 1937), explorer, lecturer, and writer, was born Harriet Chalmers in Stockton, California. Her father, Alexander Chalmers, Canadian via Scotland, came to California in 1864 to try his luck mining; he later ran a dry goods store with his brother before becoming a mine superintendent and part-owner. Her mother, Frances Wilkins, had grown up in the Sierra Nevada foothills. From the age of eleven Harriet and her sister Anna had private tutors. Her mother encouraged Harriet’s love of reading, while travels with her father developed her interest in the natural world as well as the Native American and Spanish-speaking cultures in the region. At thirteen Harriet and her father spent more than six months meandering the length of the Sierras from Oregon to Mexico, cementing her lifelong love of adventure. As a young woman Harriet continued her indoor and outdoor studies and had an active social life. She was fluent in Spanish and spoke Portuguese, French, Italian, and German as well....

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Akeley, Mary Leonore Jobe (29 January 1878–19 July 1966), explorer, author, and educator, was born near Tappan, Ohio, the daughter of Richard Watson Jobe and Sarah Jane Pittis, farmers. (The year of her birth is sometimes erroneously given as 1886.) She received a Ph.B. at Scio College in Alliance, Ohio, in 1897. (Scio, a Methodist school, merged with Mount Union College in Alliance in 1911.) She took graduate courses at Bryn Mawr (1901–1903) and taught at Temple College (now Temple University). She was head of the Department of History and Civics at the New York State Normal School and Training School in Cortland, New York (1903–1906), studied history and English at Columbia University, and in 1907 began to teach American history at the Normal College of the City of New York (now Hunter College). She received her M.A. in history at Columbia in 1909....

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Dorion, Marie (1790–05 September 1850), interpreter, was born into the Iowa tribe as Marie Aioe, or Marie L’Aguivoise; both versions of her maiden surname, variations on the word “Iowa,” appear in early nineteenth-century records of Oregon and Washington territories. Nothing is known of her life until she became the common-law wife of a half Sioux, half French-Canadian fur trader, Pierre Dorion, Jr., around 1806 in the vicinity of what is now Yankton, South Dakota. Pierre Dorion, Sr., had been an interpreter and a guide with the ...

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Johnson, Osa (14 March 1894–07 January 1953), author, lecturer, and film producer, was born Osa Helen Leighty in Chanute, Kansas, the daughter of William Sherman Leighty, a railroad engineer, and Ruby Isabel Holman. In 1910 she left high school to marry Martin Johnson, whom she had met eleven years earlier when he visited Chanute as an eighteen-year-old itinerant photographer. In the meantime he had visited Europe alone and traveled with ...

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Kinzie, Juliette Augusta Magill (11 September 1806–15 September 1870), historian, writer, and early Illinois settler, was born in Middletown, Connecticut, the daughter of Arthur William Magill, a banker, and Frances Wolcott. She received a richer and more complete education than that usually available to young women. She attended a boarding school in New Haven, Connecticut; was tutored by her uncle, Alexander Wolcott, in Latin and other languages while he was a student at Yale; and spent time at ...

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Musgrove, Mary (1700–1766), interpreter and liaison between early Georgians and the native Indians, whose Creek name was Coosaponakeesa, was the daughter of an English trader and an Indian mother, although her exact parentage and birthplace are unknown. Her later claims of “royal” Indian kinship have been questioned, but she did have powerful connections and standing among the Creeks. Details of her childhood are sketchy; it is known, however, that she spent time in each culture and spoke both languages. As early as 1716–1717 she married trader John Musgrove and established a trading post on the Savannah River at Yamacraw Bluff. None of their children survived to adulthood, and John Musgrove died in 1735....

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Royce, Sarah Eleanor Bayliss (02 March 1819–23 November 1891), pioneer, teacher, and writer, was born in Stratford-on-Avon, England, the daughter of Benjamin Bayliss, a tailor, and Mary Trimble (or Timbell). Her parents brought her as a baby with five older children to the United States in 1819. They lived for a time in Philadelphia before settling in Rochester, New York. Sarah was educated as extensively as a woman then could be, with what her daughter would call an “old-style academy education” at the Albion Female Seminary. She then taught school, as she would at many other times in her life. She joined the Disciples of Christ and probably at church meetings met Josiah Royce, Sr., an Englishman whose family had lived for a time in Canada before coming to New York State. The two were married on 31 May 1845....

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Stevenson, Matilda Coxe Evans (12 May 1849–24 June 1915), ethnologist, geologist, and explorer, was born in San Augustine, Texas, the daughter of Alexander Hamilton Evans, a lawyer, writer, and journalist from Virginia, and Maria Coxe of New Jersey. Stevenson grew up in a privileged, middle-class household in Washington, D.C. Following her education in a girl’s finishing school and seminary, she defied convention and studied law as well as served an apprenticeship in chemistry and geology at the Army Medical School. Even though there were no opportunities for college or advanced degrees or employment in the sciences for women at the time, Stevenson decided to become a mineralogist and geological explorer. She was able to pursue these goals through her marriage, in 1872, to geologist and naturalist Colonel ...