June 3, 1858. We came on board at 9 a.m., a company so merry that one saw at one they were Americans returning home and not Englishmen leaving . . . . I ascended onto the ship, but I could not feel lonesome, for I was going home. I had even no feeling of regret as we left the land, though I knew that I bade it good-by (sic) forever . . . .
Maria Mitchell had been away from home, travelling in Europe for eleven months. She had left behind her ill mother in the care of a younger sister in order to make the trip of a lifetime – urged on by her father and her siblings. As I have noted before, a European tour was the equivalent of a college education in the nineteenth century and Maria Mitchell had visited as many historic and ancient sites, museums, art galleries, observatories, and more during her travels. She met and travelled with noted authors, astronomers, and scientists. Doors were flung open to her – America’s first woman astronomer.