The quiet workforce: the various roles of women in geological and natural history museums during the early to mid-1900s
Published:January 01, 2007
Patrick N. Wyse Jackson, Mary E. Spencer Jones, 2007. "The quiet workforce: the various roles of women in geological and natural history museums during the early to mid-1900s", The Role of Women in the History of Geology, C. V. Burek, B. Higgs
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When examining the work of women in geology during the 18th and 19th centuries, one can broadly, and perhaps crudely, divide those women with geological interests into two broad groups: firstly, the geological wife, sister, or daughter, and the museum assistant; and secondly the museum user, the academic and the museum research scientist. It was not until the close of the 19th century that women began to have a role, albeit minor, in museum education. Women typically were employed in the major national or university museums as preparators, illustrators or assistants, and this trend continued until the 1930s. These women received little academic credit for their research as it was frequently incorporated into the publications of the men for whom they worked. Adelaide Quisenberry worked for Ray Bassler at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, while Edith Goodyear was employed as an assistant to Edmund Garwood at University College, London. Edith later published an important paper in 1924, co-authored with Garwood. From 1964, Veronica Burns, a women of a very modest character, spent 17 years at Trinity College, Dublin, where as curator she diligently amassed many important specimens (some of which were used by colleagues in publications) and published two papers in her own right. By the 1930s, women were being appointed to serious research positions in some museums – among the earliest such appointment was that of Helen Muir-Wood, a specialist in Upper Palaeozoic brachiopods to the staff of the British Museum (Natural History). Anna Birchall Hastings was also appointed by the same institution to work on Recent bryozoans, but upon her marriage was required to relinquish her post, even though she had married a museum palaeontologist; he remained in post while she became a volunteer.
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The Role of Women in the History of Geology
Where were the women in Geology? This book is a first as it unravels the diverse roles women have played in the history and development of geology as a science predominantly in the UK, Ireland and Australia, and selectively in Germany, Russia and US. The volume covers the period from the late eighteenth century to the present day and shows how the roles that women have played changed with time. These included illustrators, museum collectors and curators, educationalists, researchers and geologists. Originally as wives, sisters or mothers many were assistants to their male relatives. This book looks at all these forgotten women and for the first time historians and scientists together explore the contribution they made to this male-dominated subject. There are individual profiles on remarkable women: Catherine Raisin, Dorothea Bate, Cuvier's daughters, Grace Prestwich, Annie Greenly, Nancy Kirk, Margaret Crosfield, Ethel Skeat, Maria Ogivlie Gordon, Marie Stopes, Anne Phillips, Muriel Arber and Etheldred Bennett. Pulling together this extensive research uncovered common issues and generated emergent themes. The Editors have brought this new research together under these themes and tried to answer the question Where were the women in Geology? They go on to discuss how these role models can be applicable to today's society.