Maria Mitchell for Students

Retirement and a Return to Lynn

“I am studying Greek! It will take 30 years, but I may find chances for it, in the other world.”
Maria Mitchell, Spring 1888

Maria Mitchell Grave, Prospect Hill Cemetary, Nantucket

A combined photograph of the Maria Mitchell Association’s Loines Observatory and Maria Mitchell’s gravesite on Nantucket. (Collection of Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association

Maria fell ill in 1888. Although she had wished to remain as a professor at Vassar College until she was seventy years old, she left to recover at her sister’s house in Lynn, Massachusetts, just six months shy of her birthday. Faculty and students tried to convince her that she should stay at Vassar, whether or not she was well enough to continue teaching. One letter, dated January 10, 1888, begs, “You will consent, you must consent, to having your home here, and letting the work go. It is not astronomy that is wanted and needed, it is Maria Mitchell.” One of Maria’s nephews, an architect, built her an

observatory in Lynn in hopes that she might recover enough to return to observing. Well-loved by her families at Vassar and those with whom she had spent her childhood on Nantucket, Maria Mitchell died on June 28, 1889. She is buried on Nantucket, in Prospect Hill Cemetery, next to her mother Lydia and close to her father, William.

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