Science Illustrator Violet Dandridge Assisted Zoologists Document Their Specimens

Obtaining women’s contributions in scientific record can be challenging, and not just due to the fact there often weren’t several ladies operating in science. In a write-up for the Google Blog site “The Keyword” final thirty day period, Effie Kapsalis, Senior Digital Software Officer at the Smithsonian Institution, shared how the Smithsonian collaborated with Google Arts and Society to reveal women’s contributions to the museum archives. 

A number of a long time back, the Smithsonian introduced an initiative to highlight women in historical past, based on their in depth collections. But locating women’s contributions in the archives was not an easy endeavor. 

“One of the worries with documenting the record of gals at the Smithsonian is that the collections databases never typically have information about gender for a unique collector,” says Rebecca Dikow, Investigation Info Scientist at the Smithsonian Institution, in a movie for Google. 

And on major of that, females often weren’t referred to by their title. “They’re referred to as ‘Mrs John Smith’ as a substitute of ‘Harriet’,” describes info analyst Lynn Cherny in the identical video. 


Cherny labored with the Smithsonian by creating equipment to come across connections amongst individuals outlined in the archives and make it less complicated to filter info gathered from the data. 

When Elizabeth Harmon, Digital Curator of the American Women’s History Initiative at the Smithsonian Institution, applied the Google Arts & Tradition instruments, she was capable to come across a previously not properly-documented link in between a few females doing the job who contributed to the science selection. 

She discovered that in 1911 invertebrate zoologist Mary Jane Rathbun had carried out discipline operate with each other with scientific illustrator Violet Dandridge, and some of the specimens they collected had been recognized by isopod professional Harriet Richardson

Harmon further more explored Violet Dandridge’s lifestyle by using archives at the Duke University Library and found that she was also a suffragette

Dandridge’s illustration capabilities were in need, and she worked with numerous other scientists, contributing pictures to scientific papers and textbooks. 

For example, Dandridge drew all the illustrations for Austin Hobart Clark’s “A Monograph of the Present Crinoids” in 1915, and contributed a drawing of a fish to “The Fishes of Alaska” by Barton Warren Evermann and Edmund Lee Goldsborough in 1907. And in 1911, the identical calendar year she labored with Rathbun, she also contributed figures for “North Pacific Ophiurans in the Assortment of the United States Countrywide Museum” by Hubert Lyman Clark. 

The moment you know where to glance, it is very clear that Dandridge was a prolific illustrator for early twentieth century scientific texts about invertebrates and fishes. But it was not promptly noticeable, for the reason that contributions of females to science have not usually been nicely-documented in the previous. This collaboration concerning the Smithsonian and Google exhibits that there are probable numerous other stories of women in science waiting to be identified.


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