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Marcella O'Grady Boveri (1863-1950): Her Three Careers in Biology

Margaret R. Wright
Isis
Vol. 88, No. 4 (Dec., 1997), pp. 627-652
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/237830
Page Count: 26
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Marcella O'Grady Boveri (1863-1950): Her Three Careers in Biology
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Abstract

The career of Marcella O'Grady Boveri (1863-1950), a nineteenth-century Catholic woman educated in biology at MIT and Bryn Mawr, is discussed both in the biological context of the times and with regard to the position of women in science. The thesis is that her life pattern differed strikingly from that of other woman biologists of her generation and that the character of her contributions to biology varied with that pattern. Perhaps it is in consequence that the significance of her considerable achievement has been hidden. Boveri's circumstances led her to collaboration rather than independence in research: she worked with skill and interest, but without formal recognition, on her husband's theoretically important and already established research program in Germany (1900-1915). She thought it a privilege to do so. Earlier (1889-1896), at Vassar College, and later (1927-1943), at the newly established Albertus Magnus College, she was an innovator who introduced and developed new curricula in biology, a stimulating and influential teacher, a mentor, and a role model. In addition, she did much to promote international communication, as exemplified both by her English translation of Theodor Boveri's prescient theory of cancer and by her influence in bringing important scientists to the United States.

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