Maria Mitchell In Her Own Words

Nov. 14, 1855.  Last night I heard Emerson give a lecture.  I pity the reporter who attempts to give it to the world.  I began to listen with a determination to remember it in order, but it was without method order or system.  It was like a beam of light moving in the undulatory waves meeting with occasional meteors in its path.  It was exceedingly uplifting.

Not what you expected at the end when you read the beginning.  Maria never minced words – as you may recall from the blog about Dr. Allen – the Vassar College physician that I mentioned in October – and other examples that I have noted.  Henry David Thoreau was definitely one who  Maria was frustrated by – he spoke at the Atheneum as well when she was librarian.  As did many luminaries of the time.  The Mitchell family ran in these circles – even if on the periphery.  Name the scientist, author, poet, philosopher, mathematician – Maria and her family rubbed elbows with them, exchanged letters and pleasantries, and stopped for awhile for a visit.  The Mitchell family was truly engaged and active in these groups they just maybe did not toot their own horns so to speak – call it the Quaker in them.


Among Good Company

Capstone MMThe other day, a new biography about Maria Mitchell appeared at my door. Now this one is not for everyone . . . well, I guess it could be for everyone but it is really aimed at the pre-kindergarten to first grade set. If you are an adult, it will take you about two minutes tops to read! Since the publisher used several of our historic images, they are required to send us one free copy for the Archives. As you can see, Maria is in good company – a broad mix of women – and I am hoping that list grows!

We have had quite a few requests for image use this year – both for children’s books – although this one is the only one that is just about Maria and no one else – and for articles and adult history and science books. We have also had a few researchers using Maria Mitchell’s papers. They include a woman researching Henry David Thoreau’s time on Nantucket – he and Maria crossed paths a few times – and a man researching the eclipse of 1878. Maria travelled to Denver to observe the eclipse, taking along a few of her students and her sister, Phebe Mitchell Kendall, who recorded the event with sketches and watercolors. The Archives receives fees when photographs are used and if I complete transcriptions of the papers. This helps to support their conservation. So, I am expecting the Mitchell House mail to be a bit full over the next months as more publications arrive!


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