Women in the History of Science

A sourcebook

Edited by Hannah Wills, Sadie Harrison, Erika Jones, Rebecca Martin, and Farrah Lawrence-Mackey

ISBN: 9781800084155

Publication: March 06, 2023

What is this?

Women in the History of Science brings together primary sources that highlight women’s involvement in scientific knowledge production around the world. Drawing on texts, images and objects, each primary source is accompanied by an explanatory text, questions to prompt discussion, and a bibliography to aid further research. Arranged by time period, covering 1200 BCE to the twenty-first century, and across 12 inclusive and far-reaching themes, this book is an invaluable companion to students and lecturers alike in exploring women’s history in the fields of science, technology, mathematics, medicine and culture.

While women are too often excluded from traditional narratives of the history of science, this book centres on the voices and experiences of women across a range of domains of knowledge. By questioning our understanding of what science is, where it happens, and who produces scientific knowledge, this book is an aid to liberating the curriculum within schools and universities.

Praise for Women in the History of Science
'Women in the History of Science is a reader that offers a surprisingly comprehensive range of primary sources presented with additional resources that make them readily accessible for multiple readers at every level of education.'
The British Journal for the History of Science

Hannah Wills is Honorary Research Associate at the Department of Science and Technology Studies, UCL.

Sadie Harrison is Honorary Research Associate at the Department of Science and Technology Studies, UCL.

Erika Lynn Jones is Curator of Navigation and Oceanography at Royal Museums, Greenwich.

Farrah Lawrence-Mackey received her PhD in History and Philosophy of Science from UCL.

Rebecca Martin is Research Fellow in the Centre for History in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

List of figures
List of contributors
A note on pronouns


Part I: Ancient ways of knowing (1200 BCE−900 CE)

1 Tappūtī-Bēlet-Ekallim (fl. 1200 BCE): A cuneiform tablet on Middle Assyrian perfumery (c. 1200 BCE)
Eduardo A. Escobar (he/him)

2 Circe: An extract from Homer’s Odyssey (c. 900−800 BCE)
Andrew Gregory (he/him)

3 Anonymous: Dialogue of the philosophers and Cleopatra (c. 600-700 CE)
Vincenzo Carlotta (he/him)

4 The Southern Moche group: A ceramic vessel from coastal Peru (c. 200−900 CE)
Esme Loukota (she/her)

5 Hypatia of Alexandria (c. 350−415 CE): Letter from Synesius of Cyrene to Paeonius (c. 355−415 CE)
Aiste Celkyte (she/her) 

Part II: Materials and manuscripts (900−1600 CE)

6 Ku‘ayba bt. Sa‘d al-Aslamiyya (fl. 620 CE): An extract from Kitab al-tabaqat al-kubra (Book of the Great Generations) (c. 600-900 CE)
Shazia Jagot (she/her)

7 Mariam al-Ijli al-Asturlabi (c. tenth century CE): An extract from Fihrist Al-Nadim (Index) (c. 998 CE)
Shazia Jagot (she/her)

8 Josian: Extracts from the Middle English Romance Bevis of Hampton (c. 1300 CE)
Hannah Bower (she/her)

9 Mary, Queen of Scots (1542−1587 CE), Elizabeth Talbot (1527−1587 CE) and members of the Queen’s household: The Oxburgh Hangings (1569−1585 CE)
Sarah Cawthorne (she/her)

Part III: Producing knowledge (16001700)

10 Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (1623–1673): Observations upon Experimental Philosophy, The Blazing World, and Poems and Fancies (1668)
Liza Blake (she/her)

11 Mrs Mary Chantrell (fl. 1690): Book of receipts (1690−1693)
Lucy J. Havard (she/her) 

12 Sati-un-Nisa (d. 1646): Ma’asir-ul-Umara (Biography of the Notables) (1780) and photographs of the Mausoleum Saheli Burj (Female Companion’s Monument) (2020)
Mariam Sabri (they/them) and Anurag Advani (he/him)

13 Marie Crous (fl. 1641): Extracts from two of her mathematical works, the Advis de Marie Crous (1636) and Abbrégé recherché de Marie Crous (1641)
Giovanna Cifoletti (she/her) and Jean-Marie Coquard (he/him)

Part IV: Art, gender and knowledge (1700s)

14 Maria Sibylla Merian (1647−1717): Extract from Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium (The Metamorphosis of Insects in Surinam) (1705) Tamara Caulkins (she/her)

15 Anna Morandi Manzolini (1714−1774): Self-portrait in wax (1755) Corinne Doria (she/her)

16 Margaret Cavendish Holles Harley Bentinck (1715−1785): Frontispiece to A Catalogue of the Portland Museum (1786)
Sadie Harrison (she/her)

17 Marie-Anne Paulze-Lavoisier (1758−1836): Illustration in a scientific text (c. 1790)
Francesca Antonelli (she/her)

Part V: Societies and networks of science (16601850s)

18 Josefa Amar y Borbón (1749−1833): An extract from Discurso sobre la educación física y moral de las mujeres (Discourse on women’s physical and moral education) (1790)
Mónica Bolufer Peruga (she/her)

19 Ekaterina Romanova Dashkova (1744−1810): An extract from Memoirs of the Princess Daschkaw, Lady of Honour to Catherine II (1840)
Simon Werrett (he/him)

20 Caroline Lucretia Herschel (1750−1848): An extract from Memoir and Correspondence of Caroline Herschel (1876)
Mascha Hansen (she/her)

21 Lady Jane Davy (c. 1780−1855): As described in two extracts from her contemporaries (1812 and 1815)
Frank A. J. L. James (he/him)

22 The Junta de Damas de Honor y Mérito (Committee of Ladies of Honour and Merit): Children’s parchments in the Madrid Foundling House (1802)
Elena Serrano (she/her)

Part VI: Maps, scientific travel and colonialism (1800s)

23 Women travellers in Africa: Map by Friedrich Welwitsch (c. 1853–1860)
Sara Albuquerque (she/her) and Silvia Figueirôa (she/her)

24 Martha Luise Sophie Bielenstein (1861−1938): Map of ‘The Latvian Language Area’ (1892)
Catherine Gibson (she/her)

25 Thomasina Ross (fl. 1850s): Title page of Alexander von Humboldt’s Personal Narrative of Travels (1852−1853)
Alison Martin (she/her)

26 Elizabeth Cabot Agassiz (1822−1907): The Hassler expedition (1871−1872)
Erika Jones (she/her)

Part VII: Representations of the natural world (1800s)

27 Margaret Meen (fl. 1775−1824), Sarah Anne Drake (1803−1857), and Marianne North (1830−1890): Three botanical illustrations from women with connections to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Julia Buckley (she/her) 

28 Eleanor Ormerod (1828−1901): Entomological specimens presented to the Museum of Economic Botany at Kew Gardens (1875−1880)
Caroline Cornish (she/her) 

29 Emina María Jackson y Zaragoza (1858–?): Illustration of Diospyros embryopteris in the third edition of Manuel Blanco’s Flora de Filipinas (Flora of the Philippines) (1877–1883)
Kathleen Cruz Gutierrez (she/her/siya) 

30 Sally Paul (fl. 1860s): Captain Campbell Hardy’s ‘Indian Remedy for Smallpox’, Teranaki Herald (1872)
Farrah Lawrence-Mackey (she/her) 

Part VIII: Women and Geology – A Case Study (1823-1919)

31 Mary Anning (1799−1847): Letters from Anning to Sir Henry Bunbury (1823)
Ross MacFarlane (he/him) 

32 Etheldred Benett (1775−1845): Preface to Catalogue of the Organic Remains of the County of Wiltshire (1831)
Susan Pickford (she/her) 

33 Gertrude Lilian Elles (1872−1960): Geological hammers
Sandra Freshney (she/her) 

Part IX: Education, access and agency (18501905)

34 Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (1815−1852): Anonymous obituary published in The Examiner (1852)
Hannah Wills (she/her) 

35 Mary Seacole (1805−1881): Extract from Seacole’s autobiography Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands (1857) Marie Allitt (she/her) 

36 Sarah Emily Davies (1830−1921): A letter to Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon (1873)
Rebecca Martin (she/her) 

37 Dr Laura Esther Rodríguez Dulanto (1872−1919): Introductory passage to her medical surgery doctoral dissertation, Perú (1900)
José Ragas (he/him) and Camila Rodríguez-Birke (she/her) 

38 Anna Fischer-Dückelmann (1856−1917): Extract from Woman as Family Doctor (1905)
Izel Demirbas (she/her) 

Part X: Women in the scientific sorkforce (18901950)

39 Rural Portuguese Women: Image of silkworm sorting using the Pasteur Method (1890−1900)
Isabel Zilhão (she/her)

40 Funü zazhi, 婦女雜誌 (The Ladies’ Journal): Three illustrations from the magazine (c. 1915−1931)
Hsiang-fu Huang (he/him) 

41 ‘Women Engineers in the Field of Radio Telegraphy’: Extract from The Woman Engineer (1922)
Elizabeth Bruton (she/her), Graeme Gooday (he/him) and Anne Locker (she/her)

42 Women demonstrating electrical appliances: Public demonstration of Appliance Utilities, Barcelona (1934)
Jordi Ferran Boleda (he/him) 

43 Women in Portuguese Archaeology: A photograph of the Vila Nova de São Pedro excavation team (early 1950s)
Ana Cristina Martins (she/her) 

Part XI: Women and the institutions of science (19101950)

44 Elsie Wakefield (1886−1972): Photograph of a fungi foray in Epping Forest, England (c. 1910)
Katherine Harrington (she/her)

45 Caroline Eustis Seely (1887−1961): A letter to the American Mathematical Society (1922)
Ellen Abrams (she/her)

46 Anna Tumarkin (1875−1951): A translation of an excerpt from her Methoden der Psychologischen Forschung (Methods of Psychological Inquiry) (1929)
Stefan Reiners-Selbach (he/him) 

47 Kathleen Lonsdale (1903−1971): A letter to Hubert Peet, editor of The Friend magazine (1945)
Ash Arcadian (he/him) 

48 Rosalind Franklin (1920−1958): ‘Photograph 51’ and a 50 pence piece marking the centenary of her birth
Frank A. J. L. James (he/him) 

Part XII Embodied female experiences of science (1965present)

49 Margaret ‘Peggy’ Ann Lucas (b. 1947): 2013 interview with Spaceflight Insider about the Tektite II mission (1970)
Antony Adler (he/him) 

50 Unnamed female monkey: Image of monkeys in a breeding programme for polio vaccine testing (1978−2005) Anne van Veen (she/her)

51 Unnamed working-class woman: Handwritten family recipe (1980s)
Catherine Price (she/her)

52 Stephanie Shirley (b. 1933), Janet Thomson (b. 1942), Sue Vine (fl. 1960s), and Charlotte Armah (b. 1970): Extracts from ‘An Oral History of British Science’ transcripts (2009–2015)
Sally Horrocks (she/her), Thomas Lean (he/him) and Paul Merchant (he/him)

Epilogue: Going forward and liberating the curriculum


'Women in the History of Science is a reader that offers a surprisingly comprehensive range of primary sources presented with additional resources that make them readily accessible for multiple readers at every level of education.'
The British Journal for the History of Science


Format: Open Access PDF

474 Pages

53 colour illustrations

Copyright: © 2023

ISBN: 9781800084155

Publication: March 06, 2023

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