Image from page 166 of "The New England magazine" (1887)
Title: The New England magazine
Publisher: Boston : [New England Magazine Co.]
Contributing Library: Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center
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n andKirchoff of the lines in the spectrumwith various terrestrial elements. Allprogress in its study has been throughphotography; not merely the imagingof stars as points of light, but the moreimportant representation on photo-graphic plates of each stars prismaticreflection in lines of light and shade. It was during the experimentalperiod of this new astronomical workthat, in 1879, Mrs. Fleming came tothe Harvard College Observatory.She had been in America barely ayear. A sudden stress of her personalaffairs compelled her to take up somesort of work for a livelihood. Be-cause she liked and understood mathe-matical subjects, she selected book-keeping and accounting, and set herselfto the task of thorough preparation.In the midst of this effort it be-came necessary to replenish hersmall fund of money. On hearing thata professor at the Harvard Observa-tory needed the services of a coypist,she hastened thither, and was em-ployed. A little later she undertook WILLIAMINA PATON FLEMING 459
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MRS. WILLIAMINA PATON FLEMING some of the stellar computations.This work fascinated her, enlisted allthe energy of her clear and brilliantmind, but not all the capacity. Oneday the professor found certain com-putations, marveled at the precisionand discrimination of her mathemat-ical skill; and a course in astronomy,the development and recognition • offurther gifts, new duties with addi-tional responsibilities, followed, eachin due order. Thus, by such happy chance, asoften directs into its proper channelthe force of an unrealized genius that the world must not lose, was estab-lished in that observatory where herability could be most fully utilizedthis enthusiastic and industrious youngwoman, whom astronomy was yethighly to honor. Mrs. Flemings posi-tion at Harvard Observatory becamepermanent in 1881. At that time,under the direction of Professor Ed-ward C. Pickering, who had succeededJoseph Winlock in 1877, the work ofthe observatory was divided betweenresearches in photometry, or
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