Maria Mitchell in Her Own Words

I posted this seven years ago in 2013 (how is that possible – seven years?!) but I thought it was interesting to repeat –and it ties to the July entry about her return to see the Airys many years later.

August 17{1857}

Today we have been to the far-famed British museum.  I carried as “open sesame” a paper given to me by Prof. Henry asking for me special attention from all societies with which the Smithsonian {is} connected . . . . The art of printing has brought us incalculable blessings, but as I looked at a neat manuscript book by Queen Elizabeth copied from another, as a present to her Father I could not help thinking that it was better than worsted work!

On August 2, 1857, Maria Mitchell and the young woman she was accompanying as a chaperone, Prudence Smith, arrived in Liverpool, England for their European tour.  Maria Mitchell’s “open sesame” was a letter of introduction – she went with several.  She would find that the doors were thrown open for America’s first woman astronomer – she was that well known in America and abroad.  She would become quite close to Sir George Airy, the British Astronomer Royal, and his wife Richarda, as well as the astronomical Herschel family.