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Maria Mitchell

Ancestry of
Maria Mitchell


    Maria Mitchell

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    • 1st Generation
    • Ahnentafel No:
    • Birth Date:
    • 1 Aug 1818 
    • Birth Location:
    • Nantucket, Nantucket Co., Massachusetts 
    • Christening Date:
    • Christening Location:
    • Death Date:
    • 28 Jun 1889 
    • Death Location:
    • Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts 
    • Burial Date:
    • Burial Location:
    • Prospect Hill Cemetery, Nantucket, Nantucket Co., Massachusetts 
    • Notes: 
    • 1st American Female Professional Astronomer

      Maria Mitchell (1818-1889) was the first professional woman astronomer in the United States and the first American to discover a comet. She was born on Nantucket, Massachusetts, to Quaker parents who encouraged her education and interest in astronomy. She assisted her father in rating chronometers for the Nantucket whaling fleet and using his telescope to observe the night sky. In 1845, she was hired by the U.S. Coast Survey, one of NOAA’s predecessor agencies, to track the movements of the planets and compile tables of their positions for navigation. On October 1, 1847, she discovered a new comet, which became known as “Miss Mitchell’s Comet.” She received a gold medal from the King of Denmark for this achievement. In 1865, she became the first female professor of astronomy at Vassar College and the director of the Vassar College Observatory. She was also the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and one of the founders of the American Association for the Advancement of Women.

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  • Sources for Maria Mitchell

    • 3 Austin, John Osborne, American Authors' Ancestry: Including some others who have influenced life wisely . . ., Providence, Rhode Island: Freeman Company, Printers (1915), 64.
    • 4 Howe, Julia Ward, ed., Representative Women of New England, Boston: New England Historical Publishing Company (1904), 481-482.
    • 5 Kendall, Phebe Mitchell, Maria Mitchell: Life, Letters, and Journals, Boston: Lee and Shepard Publishers (1896).