Person: Merrill, Winifred Edgerton
Winifred Edgerton was the first woman to receive a degree from Columbia University and the first American woman to receive a PhD in mathematics.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- This was a fantastic achievement and Merrill became the first American woman to obtain a Ph.D. in mathematics.
- Winifred Haring Edgerton was born on 24 September 1862 in Ripon, Wisconsin.
- Her parents were Emmet Edgerton and Clara Cooper.
- Winifred was given Haring as a middle name.
- Her parents Emmet and Clara Edgerton are living near by.
- Emmet is also a real estate agent but what relation he is to Edward Edgerton is not clear.
- In the 1880 census Winifred Edgerton, now 17 years old, is living with her parents Emmet, with occupation real estate agent, and Clara.
- Winifred decided that she wanted a college education and, in 1879 she entered Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts.
- It was predicted to return in about 70 years so, in 1883, Edgerton obtained data from Harvard College Observatory and did her own calculations of the orbit of the comet.
- Edgerton was excited by her work on the comet and was very keen to become an undergraduate at Columbia University since this would give her access to the Columbia University telescope.
- In January 1884 Edgerton applied to Columbia University, in New York, to be allowed to study mathematics and astronomy.
- Up until this time Columbia University was an institute for men only and due to this being the case Edgerton's initial request was refused.
- However, with the support and advice of Frederick A P Barnard, the 10th president of Columbia University who was a campaigner for women's education, Edgerton visited each trustee individually to plead her case.
- At the next meeting of the Committee on the Course and Statutes of Columbia College on 18 January, they voted to allow Edgerton to use their telescope.
- Edgerton, however, did unofficially attend graduate courses in both astronomy and pure mathematics.
- Edgerton wrote two dissertations, one on astronomy and one on mathematics.
- Frederick Merrill served as the New York State geologist from 1899 to 1904.
- Marriage took Merrill from her pursuit of a scholarly career.
- The Merrills entertained leading people in their fine homes.
- Mrs Merrill took her seat as a member of the Board at the called meeting September 29, 1898.
- The financial problems became very serious, Frederick Merrill was declared bankrupt and as a consequence was forced to resign as State Geologist of New York.
- The problems culminated in Frederick and Winifred Merrill separating in 1904.
- Frederick Merrill left Albany and became a mining geologist in New York City.
- Winifred Merrill resumed her academic career in New York City, becoming Principal of Highcliffe Hall, at Park Hill, Younkers, New York.
- The school closed in 1902 but, in 1904, she established the day and boarding school Highcliffe Hall with Merrill as its Principal.
- In 1906 Winifred Merrill founded the Oaksmere School for Girls in New Rochelle, Westchester County, New York.
- Soon after this the school moved to Merrill's estate on Long Island Sound in the village of Larchmont, Mamaroneck, New York.
- In 1918 Merrill published Musical Autograms.
- The school, however, continued to operate and announced:" Oaksmere Mrs Merrill's School for Girls.
- Mrs Merrill, Orienta Point, Mamaroneck, N.Y.".
- In 1926 Merrill tried to found another school in Larchmont but she was not successful.
- On the 50th anniversary of Merrill's graduation from Wellesley, 31 March 1933, a portrait of her by Helena E Ogden Campbell was presented to Columbia by the Wellesley class of 1883 and the Columbia Women's Graduate Club.
- It was with her elder son, Hamilton Merrill, that Merrill lived during the last two years of her life.
Born 24 September 1862, Ripon, Wisconsin, USA. Died 6 September 1951, Fairfield, Connecticut, USA.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Astronomy, Origin Usa, Women
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive