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Pennington, Mary Engle (08 October 1872–27 December 1952), food-processing chemist, was born in Nashville, Tennessee, the daughter of Henry Pennington and Sarah B. Molony. Soon after her birth the family moved to West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where her father set up a label-making business. Mary enjoyed gardening, which was a hobby of her father, and at the age of twelve she became interested in medical chemistry after reading a library book about it. Her parents were surprised but supportive. In 1890 she entered the Towne Scientific School of the University of Pennsylvania as a special student (because she was a woman). The school gave her a certificate of proficiency in 1892, when she completed the work for a B.S., but they refused her the degree, which was only offered to men. Under a university rule for “extraordinary cases,” Pennington was allowed to continue studying at the University of Pennsylvania for a Ph.D. in chemistry, which she received in 1895. She held a fellowship there in chemical botany for two years and then a fellowship in physiological chemistry at Yale University for another year....

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Richards, Ellen Henrietta Swallow (03 December 1842–30 March 1911), chemist and home economist, was born on a farm outside of Dunstable, Massachusetts, the only child of two schoolteachers, Peter Swallow and Fanny Gould Taylor. The family moved to nearby Westford so that Ellen could attend the coeducational Westford Academy. After graduation, she taught school briefly before returning home to nurse her ailing mother and work as a bookkeeper for her father, who had opened a general store. These years were marked by depression and despair. Richards was diagnosed as suffering from neurasthenia, which quickly subsided when her parents agreed to send her to the newly opened Vassar College for women....