Maria Mitchell In Her Own Words

Dec. 9. I worked on Saturn last evening.  It was the 15th evening on Saturn.  I mean at some time to collect the “peculiarities” of Saturn and to publish them on a sheet of paper and scatter them around . . . . I find one record in Dawes on a star seen between ball and ring.

Apparently, Dawes – or William Rutter Dawes (1799 – 1868, England) – was known for his “meticulous planetary observations.”  I am assuming this is to whom she is referring. He apparently discovered a “crepe ring” around Saturn and focused on studying the planets.  When Maria writes “publish” and “scatter them around” – she likely means placing what she discovers into the hands of those she knows.  Maria was never keen on publishing but I could see her wanting to share her discoveries with others in a larger way – she did as obviously was necessary in her field.  But rather than writing people in long letters, she could have this information printed and ready to go, disseminating it when she saw people but also by mailing it perhaps with pre-printed salutations.