Maria Mitchell In Her Own Words

Jan. 1, 1855.I put some wires into my little transit this morning.  I dreaded it so much, when I found yesterday that it must be done, that it disturbed my sleep.  It was much easier than I expected. 

I have blogged later portions of this adventure before.  This is the earliest account in the line – I did it backwards.  Maria would try to fix the lines in her transit with her own hair, then her nephew’s hair, and finally found success in using spider webs – individual strands!  Talk about patience – but also ingenuity and need!  The transit was important to Maria’s work – transits are still used today including for surveying.  They are used to determine the relative position of objects and lines.  They are extremely precise instruments and are used to establish reference lines and provide readings of angles in precise measurements.  Until she made the repairs, some of her work would have come to a screeching halt.