Mary Agnes Chase (1869-1963), sitting at desk with specimens

    Newer Older

    Description: Mary Agnes Chase (1869-1963) specialized in the study of grasses and conducted extensive field work in South America, often personally funding her research trips, as it was considered inappropriate for women to conduct such work. Chase joined the Department of Agriculture in 1903 as a botanical illustrator and eventually became Scientific Assistant in Systematic Agrostology, 1907; Assistant Botanist, 1923; and Associate Botanist, 1925. In 1935, became Principal Botanist in charge of Systematic Agrostology and Custodian of the Section of Grasses, Division of Plants, United States National Museum.

    Creator/Photographer: Unidentified photographer

    Medium: Black and white photographic print

    Date: c. 1960

    Repository: Smithsonian Institution Archives

    Accession number: SIA2009-0712

    View more collections from the Smithsonian Institution.

    Related blog posts:
    Formidable: Women in Science

    a.stray, AproposGirl, Abizeleth, and 35 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    1. alers40 74 months ago | reply

      Famous women with names U, V, X, & Y:

      Usula B. Marvin, geologist, Harvard-Smithsonian Center

      Vita Sackville-West, author, gardener,

      Victoria Regina, queen

      Vera Brittain, author, pacifist

      Valentina Tereshkova - Russian cosmonaut
      (lots of Valentinas

      Xenia Desni, Ukranian, silent film star

      Yoko Ono, Japanese artist

      Unity Mitford, Fascist sypathizer and friend of Hitler

    2. pennylrichardsca (now at ipernity) 73 months ago | reply

      More about Mary Agnes Chase:

      Botanist Mary Agnes Meara Chase was born April 20, 1869, in Illinois. Her father Martin Meara, an Irish railroad worker, was hung as a murderer when Mary Agnes was a toddler. After a elementary education in Chicago, Mary Agnes quit school to work as a newspaper typesetter, a proofreader, even as a meat inspector. She was briefly married, then widowed, at 19. She had always been artistic, and interested in plants; a minister who was also a botanist hired Mary
      Agnes to draw specimens of mosses he had collected. Some of her
      illustrations were selected for publication in scientific journals. In
      1903, she took a Washington-based job as an illustrator for the US
      Department of Agriculture. She would eventually become a senior botanist at the Smithsonian, and one of the world's experts on grasses of North America. She went on several collecting expeditions to Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico (her personal collection was donated to the Smithsonian and the National Herbarium). Her strongly feminist politics led her to activism that endangered her government employment, including jail time and forced feedings during a hunger strike for suffrage.

      Here's a local history account mentioning her father's lynching, for
      the murder of his son, the older brother of Mary Agnes Meara:

    3. sezohanim 73 months ago | reply

      An inspiring story, of success against the odds.

    4. Just Back 72 months ago | reply

      Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Systematic Botany (not for "pretty flower images"), and we'd love to have this added to the group!

    5. Arnaldo Principe 72 months ago | reply

      I'm brasilian Veterinary of bovine . Beautiful History, beautiful woman!
      Sorry about that my English, no speak.

    6. Passiflorae 13 months ago | reply

      Here is an example of a Passion flower that she found in Brazil at Cabo Frio.

      [ Passiflora racemosa 'Carioca']

      She was mentioned several times in the famous monograph on Passiflora by Killip 1938 even though she was a specialist & expert on grasses.

    7. Smithsonian Institution 13 months ago | reply

      That's really interesting, @Passiflorae. She was quite impressive. We have her fieldbooks in our collection, including this one of an expedition to Brazil -

    keyboard shortcuts: previous photo next photo L view in light box F favorite < scroll film strip left > scroll film strip right ? show all shortcuts