The Liz Library presents Irene Stuber's Women of Achievement


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MARIA MITCHELL, Astronomer, 1818-1889

On October 1st, 1847, while scanning the skies with a telescope, from her rooftop observatory, 29 year old Maria Mitchell spotted an unknown comet. This discovery won her a gold medal from the king of Denmark and instant recognition as an astronomer. In 1865 Matthew Vassar invited her to become the first professor of astronomy in the U.S. at Vassar College. This remarkable woman was one of the most famous American scientists of the 19th century.


Professor Mitchell with her students on the lawn at Vassar.
Vassar College Library Photo.

Some of Maria Mitchell's accomplishments were:

1847 -- discovered the comet of 1847 - Comet Mitchell 1847VI

1848 -- appointed the first woman to the Academy of Arts and Sciences

1853 -- awarded the first advanced degree given to a woman - from Indiana Hanover College.

1859 -- awarded the Medal of Merit from Switzerland and the Republic of San Moreno

1865 -- appointed to the American Philosophical Society

1865 -- appointed the first woman to the faculty of Vassar

1875 -- elected president of the American Association for the Advancement of Women

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© 1990-2006 Irene Stuber, Hot Springs National Park, AR 71902. Originally web-published at We are indebted to Irene Stuber for compiling this collection and for granting us permission to make it available again. The text of the documents may be freely copied for nonprofit educational use. Except as otherwise noted, all contents in this collection are © 1998-2009 the liz library.  All rights reserved. This site is hosted and maintained by the liz library.