Maria Mitchell In Her Own Words

Maria MitchellSept. 12, 1854

I am just through with a summer and a summer is to me always a trying ordeal. I have determined not to spend so much time at the Atheneum another season. To put someone in my place who shall see all the strange faces, and hear the strange talk … . My visitors … have been of the average sort. Four women have been delighted to make my acquaintance, three men have thought themselves in the presence of a superior being, one has offered me 25 cents because I reached him the key of the museum {her duties as librarian included the care and cataloging of the museum collection – items from all over the world brought back on Nantucket whaleships and from the travels of islanders and others}, one woman has opened a correspondence with me and several have told me that they knew friends of mine … . I have become hardened to all, neither compliment nor quarter dollar rouses any emotion. My fit of humility which has troubled me all summer, is shaken by the first cool breeze of Autumn and the first walk taken without perspiration.

Due to her fame as the woman astronomer who had discovered a comet, Mara Mitchell found that many visitors to Nantucket came to the Atheneum specifically to see her. A private and modest person, Maria found this fame trying and difficult.