Person: Elderton, Ethel
Ethel Elderton was a statistician who worked for Francis Galton and Karl Pearson. Although her work was an important contribution applying statistics to social problems, much of it makes difficult reading today because it is written with a eugenic perspective.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Before was give details of Ethel Elderton's life, let us say a little about her siblings.
- Ethel was a pupil at Streatham High School, graduating in 1895 and later that year began her studies at Bedford College, London.
- Harding was still the professor of mathematics at Bedford College when Elderton studied there.
- Alice Lee was Harding's assistant, she taught Elderton and was impressed by her abilities.
- Elderton passed the matriculation examination for the University of London in 1897.
- Although Elderton, having matriculated, was in a position to take a degree she chose not to take a degree becoming a school teacher.
- Schuster was a student of Professor W F R Weldon, the prime mover in the foundation of the "biometric school." Miss E M Elderton was appointed as an assistant to Schuster and together they made up the staff of the Eugenics Record Office which was under Galton's general oversight.
- Elderton had been recommended by Alice Lee who had taught her at Bedford College.
- On the advice of Dr Alice Lee, he selected Miss Ethel M Elderton - a most happy choice.
- In 1907 Elderton co-authored with Edgar Schuster the paper The Inheritance of Psychical Characters, published in Biometrika.
- One of Elderton's most influential papers was A first study of the influence of parental alcoholism on the physique and ability of the offspring.
- Miss Elderton has spent her time and her manifest skill on material which, it should have been obvious from the beginning, could not repay her.
- It is worth looking at the two different driving forces behind Elderton's work.
- In would appear that Elderton accepted these aims.
- There is, however, some evidence that Elderton may not have totally accepted the aims of eugenics but have been merely following the lead provided by Pearson and Galton.
- By March 1909 the Eldertons had essentially completed the text but a title had to be decided on and a publisher found.
- It may indeed be Palin Elderton who was against the eugenics connection, but we suggest that Ethel Elderton, with whom Galton and Pearson were corresponding about publishing the book, must also have taken that view.
- It must have been quite difficult for the Eldertons to argue against Galton, but clearly they did so since the book appeared with the title A Primer of Statistics.
- In 1925 Pearson founded the Annals of Eugenics which he edited with Ethel Elderton's help.
- We should note the high regard that both Pearson and Galton had for Elderton.
- This was awarded to the person who "in the ten years next preceding the date of the award, published the most noteworthy contribution to the development of mathematical or statistical methods applied to problems in Biology." In 1931 Elderton was awarded a D.Sc. by the University of London and, in the same year, was promoted to a readership in the University of London.
Born 31 December 1878, Fulham, London, England. Died 5 May 1954, Stanborough Park, near Watford, Hertfordshire, England.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Origin England, Women
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive