Maria Mitchell in Her Own Words

Maria MitchellMay 20, 1882. Vassar is getting pretty. I gathered lilies of the valley this morning. The young robins are out in a tree close by us, and the phoebe has built, as usual, under the front steps. I am rushing dome poetry, but so far showing no alarming symptoms of brilliancy.

Maria, like her father and the rest of her family, was a keen observer of nature, taking daily walks wherever she might find herself. Her father, William Mitchell, led almost daily nature walks for his students when he was teaching on Nantucket. This journal entry is written about seventeen years after Maria began at Vassar College and the “dome poetry” she refers to is for her students. At the end of each school year, Maria hosted “dome parties” at the observatory for her students where “celestial refreshments” were served along with wonderful poems Maria wrote about her students, and they about her.