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Florence Bascom, geologist, holding a compass
Florence Bascom Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Women's History Archives at Smith College

Florence Bascom

Florence Bascom was one of the first female geologists in the United States and her fellow scientists thought she was one of the nationís most important geologists. She lived from 1862 until 1945 and is well known for her work at Bryn Mawr College where she taught for many years.

Bascom studied mineral crystals by looking at them with a microscope. She also studied metamorphic rocks, how mountains form, and how rocks from mountain erode into sand. At the time she went to college, it wasnít easy for a woman to go to study for advanced degrees in the United States. But that didnít stop Florence Bascom! She earned two bachelorís degrees and a masterís degree from the University of Wisconsin and a Ph.D. in geology from Johns Hopkins University. She was the second woman to ever earn a Ph.D. in geology in the United States.

Florence started teaching geology at Bryn Mawr, a womenís college, in 1895. She collected minerals, rocks, and fossils for the college and taught hundreds of students over the years, many of whom became successful geologists too!

Last modified September 21, 2009 by Lisa Gardiner.

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