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

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.


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Formidable: Women in Science

Ali, AproposGirl and 36 more people faved this
  • Smithsonian Institution PRO 6y

    Read more about Mary Agnes Chase here -
  • alers40 6y

    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
  • pennylrichardsca (now at ipernity) PRO 6y

    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:
  • sezohanim 6y

    An inspiring story, of success against the odds.
  • John PRO 6y

    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!
  • Arnaldo Principe do Amaral 6y

    I'm brasilian Veterinary of bovine . Beautiful History, beautiful woman!
    Sorry about that my English, no speak.
  • Passiflorae 1y

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

    [Passiflora racemosa 'Carioca']

    Passiflora racemosa 'Carioca' by Passiflorae

    She was mentioned several times in the famous monograph on Passiflora by Killip 1938 even though she was a specialist & expert on grasses.
  • Smithsonian Institution PRO 1y

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