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Bascom, Florence (14 July 1862–18 June 1945), geologist and educator, was born in Williamstown, Massachusetts, the daughter of suffragist Emma Curtiss and John Bascom, a professor at Williams College. Her mother, as an officer of the National Suffrage Association wrote, “While the ballot is withheld from women and given to all other classes of citizens except idiots and criminals, it puts on womanhood an inescapable badge, and an inescapable fact, of inferiority” (quoted in Smith, p. 17). Her father advocated for coeducation and unsuccessfully raised the issue at Williams. Both parents profoundly affected the way Florence Bascom saw the world. She became the first woman in the United States to enter fully the profession of geology....

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Freeman, Harriet Elizabeth (13 March 1847–30 December 1930), botanist, geologist, conservationist, and letter writer, was born in the North End neighborhood of Boston to William Frederick Freeman and Caroline Crosby Lewis. Her father, who was in partnership with his brother-in-law in Caribbean shipping and trading, founded the Aetna Mills on the Charles River. After moving to Boston’s South End in 1861, the Freemans joined the South Congregational Church, a Unitarian church whose minister was ...

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Gardner, Julia Anna (26 January 1882–15 November 1960), geologist, paleoecologist, and fossil mollusc taxonomist, was born in Chamberlain, South Dakota, the daughter of Charles Henry Gardner, a physician, and Julia M. Brackett, a schoolteacher. She had seven half siblings through her father’s first marriage but was the only child of his second marriage. When Gardner was four months old, her father died. She and her mother lived in Chamberlain until 1895, then moved to her mother’s family home in Dixon, Illinois. In 1898 they moved to Massachusetts, then later to Vermont....

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Kennedy, Kathleen Agnes (20 February 1920–13 May 1948), sister of U.S. president John F. Kennedy and an English peer by marriage, sister of U.S. president John F. Kennedy and an English peer by marriage, was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, the daughter of Joseph Patrick Kennedy...

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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 ...