Extraordinary Women in Science & Medicine: Four Centuries of Achievement At the Grolier Club September 18 – November 23, 2013 The Grolier Club is pleased to present a landmark exhibition exploring the legacy of thirty-two remarkable women whose extraordinary scientific accomplishments in physics, chemistry, astronomy,mathematics, computing, and medicine changed science. Extraordinary Women in Science & Medicine: Four Centuries of Achievement will illuminate the often little-known careers and accomplishments of these female scientists, examining their work and lives over four centuries. More than 150 original artifacts, including books, manuscripts, serials, authors’ separates, Ph.D. theses, and laboratory apparatus(such as that used by Marie Curie during her earliest work o nradioactivity) will be on view, providing a remarkable overview of the scientific contributions of this eminent group.
Included will be numerous items with special attributes and provenance. Of particular interest will be Emilie Du Châtelet’s 1759 translation of Newton’s Principia with the bookplate of Talleyrand; copies of all of her other scientific publications; a mathematics workbook and a letter, both in her hand; and materials about her fourteen-year relationship with Voltaire, including a book she co-authored—although without her name on the title page. A scientific breakthrough in genetics written on a brown paper bag is displayed. The exhibition also serves to announce a falsely attributed firstedition due to a typesetters error in the seventeenth century and a variety of other bibliographical discoveries.
Extraordinary Women in Science & Medicine: Four Centuries of Achievement highlights such luminaries of the physical sciences as Marie and Irène Curie, Marietta Blau, Lise Meitner, Maria Goeppert Mayer, C.-S. Wu, Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, and Rosalind Franklin in physics and chemistry. Astronomers include Maria Cunitz, the most advanced scholar in mathematical astronomy of the seventeenth century, and Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, whose Ph.D. thesis in 1925 was the beginning of modern astrophysics. Among the mathematicians highlighted are Sophie Germain, Sophie Kowalevski, Emmy Noether, Emilie Du Châtelet, Maria Agnesi, and Florence Nightingale—for her work in statistics. Grace Hopper, the creator of many fundamental concepts in digital computing, is featured. Represented also are Laura Bassi, Hertha Ayrton, Marie Meurdrac, Marie Thiroux d’Arconville, Elizabeth Fulhame, and Ada, Countess of Lovelace.
Among medical scientists, the exhibition features Gerti Cori, instrumental in unveiling the fundamental mechanism of metabolism; Gertrude Elion, the first to design medicines effective in the cure of cancer and viral diseases; Rosalyn Yalow, developer of the powerful analytic tool, radioimmunoassay; and Florence Sabin, whose discoveries form the basis for our current understanding of cellular immunity. Two game-changers in medical science are Rita Levi-Montalcini, discoverer of nerve growth factor, and Barbara McClintock who discovered that genes are not fixed but move—the key paradigm shift in modern genetics. Great and influential clinical physicians include Louise Bourgeois Boursier, midwife to King Henry IV and Marie de Medici of France; the pioneering pediatric neurologist Mary Putnam Jacobi; and Helen Taussig, designer of the life-saving “blue baby” operation.
The exhibition is designed to pose questions about women’s recognition—or lack thereof—in the sciences. Topics treated include educational opportunities, role models, the use of social capital, individual styles of doing science, and gender issues associated with society norms of the periods. The viewer may consider such questions, for example, as who deserved and who received Nobel Prize awards among the modern women. The intention is to raise awareness about how women’s roles have been limited in the development of the sciences.
The exhibition was organized by Curators Ronald K. Smeltzer, Ph.D., Paulette Rose, Ph.D., and Robert J. Ruben, M.D.,
LOCATION AND TIME: Extraordinary Women in Science & Medicine: Four Centuries of Achievement will be on view at the Grolier Club, 47 East 60th Street, New York, from Sept. 18 – Nov. 23, 2013. The exhibition will be open to the public free of charge, Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
CATALOGUE: An illustrated catalogue in conjunction with the exhibition will be available at the Grolier Club.
And flagging up as a related longer-term project, particularly relating to the UK: WISRNet: Women in Science Research Network and their forthcoming workshop Fractured Histories – Discovering Women Scientists in the Archive.