Department of History
University of Connecticut
2013 to 2014
"It is my wish to behold Ladies among my hearers": Early American Women and Scientific Practice, 1720-1860
Abstract: This project examines American women’s scientific activities, broadly defined, between 1720 and 1860. Women were encouraged to learn science, but were directed to blend it with other academic interests and daily life, a concept educator Almira Phelps referred to as “the blossoms and fruit.” Thus, women used their scientific knowledge in variety of tasks and settings, ranging from domestic chores to the publication of academic texts. Organization revolves around specific uses of scientific knowledge; each chapter assesses how women’s activities transformed in tandem with changing conceptions of gender roles, disciplinary transitions, and a number of relevant cultural trends. Ultimately, it argues that stereotypes about women’s propensity to learn science are, in part, modern constructions: the contributions of eighteenth and nineteenth-century female practitioners were obscured retrospectively by various trends including, but not limited to, the professionalization of the academy and a growing, artificial separation of science and the humanities. Read Jessica's report on her PACHS-sponsored research here.