Surfacing women in science with the Smithsonian

Results are already promising. Through analyzing collections relating to Mary Jane Rathbun, likely the first woman curator at the Smithsonian, for example, we have been able to find taxonomy cards in Smithsonian records that detail a collecting trip she took with Serena Katherine “Violet” Dandridge, a scientific illustrator who worked alongside Rathbun in the Department of Marine Invertebrates in 1911, and gain a better understanding of early collaborations between women. In fact, the taxonomy cards reveal that a third colleague, Dr. Harriet Richardson Searle, identified some of the specimens that Rathbun and Dandridge brought back to the Smithsonian. Though this experiment is only just beginning, it is clear that technology can play a key role in facilitating further research and help to recover stories of women in science.

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