Five College Archives and Manuscript Collections
Home >> Smith College Archives >> Mary E. (Mary Emma) Byrd Papers, 1887-1920
Smith College seal
Mary E. (Mary Emma) Byrd Papers, 1887-1920
1 box (.225 linear ft.)
Collection number: RG 42

Abstract:
Director, Smith College Observatory, Professor, Astronomy. Contains biographical materials, correspondence, photographs, and publications.

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

The records are open for research according to the regulations of the Smith College Archives without any additional restrictions.

Restrictions on use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the documents must be requested from the Smith College Archives. Smith College owns copyright to any published material relating to college events and activities. Provenance and copyright ownership of other materials is unknown and researchers are responsible for determining any question of copyright.

Smith College Archives
Northampton, MA

Biographical Note
  • Director of the Smith College Observatory, 1887-1906
  • Smith College Professor of Astronomy, 1887-1906

Mary E. (Mary Emma) Byrd was born on November 15, 1849 in Le Roy, Michigan to Rev. John Huntington Byrd and Elizabeth Adelaide Lowe Byrd. When Mary was six years old, her family moved to Leavenworth, Kansas, and her father, a firm abolitionist, managed a station of the Underground Railroad. Byrd graduated from Leavenworth High School before attending Oberlin College from 1871-74. She left Oberlin before graduating, and the following year began attending the University of Michigan, where she received a B.A. in 1878. In 1879 Byrd worked as the principal of Wabash High School in Indiana until 1882, when she left to study astronomy at Harvard College Observatory under Dr. E.C. Pickering. In 1883 she became the First Assistant at the Godsell Observatory at Carleton College in Minnesota. In 1887 she was appointed Director of the Smith College Observatory and professor of astronomy. In 1899 she published her first book, A Laboratory Manual in Astronomy. Carleton College awarded Byrd an honorary Ph.D. in astronomy in 1904.

In 1906, Byrd resigned from her positions at Smith over philosophical differences about accepting money from Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. Upon her resignation, she returned to Lawrence, Kansas, and in 1913 published her second textbook, First Observations in Astronomy: A Handbook for Schools and Colleges. She continued writing, and contributed many articles to Popular Astronomy magazine. Byrd was a member of the Astronomical and Astrophysical Society of America, Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and the British Astronomical Association, as well as the Anti-Imperialist League of Northampton.

In 1932 Byrd was stricken with cerebral hemorrhage, of which she died two years later at her home on July 13, 1934.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Mary E. (Mary Emma) Byrd Papers contain biographical materials, correspondence, photographs and publications spanning her career.


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

The records are open for research according to the regulations of the Smith College Archives without any additional restrictions.

Restrictions on use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the documents must be requested from the Smith College Archives. Smith College owns copyright to any published material relating to college events and activities. Provenance and copyright ownership of other materials is unknown and researchers are responsible for determining any question of copyright.

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

Mary E. (Mary Emma) Byrd Papers, Box #, Smith College Archives.

History of the Collection

The Mary E. (Mary Emma) Byrd Papers were donated over a period of time to the Smith College Archives from a variety of sources.

Processing Information

Processed by Gayla B. Spaulding.


Additional Information
Contact Information
Smith College Archives
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: (413) 585-2970
Fax: (413) 585-2886

Email: nyoung@smith.edu
URL: http://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/archives
Language
English.
Sponsor
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Contents List
Series I: Biographical Materials
(1906-1962)


The biographical materials contain newspaper articles, letters of appreciation from her students and a detailed biography spanning her life that was compiled by Richard Serena in 1962.

Biographical Materials
1906-1962, n. d.

Box 692: folder 1
Series II: Correspondence
(1891-1911)


The correspondence collection consists of both personal and professional correspondence, including correspondence pertaining to her publications.

Correspondence
1891-1911

Box 692: folder 2
Series III: Photographs
(c1898)


The collection of photographs consists of five photographs of Mary E. (Mary Emma) Byrd, one with a little girl adopted by Miss Abbie Tucker. All photographs are undated and presumed to be circa 1898.

Photographs
circa 1898

Box 692: folder 3
Series IV: Publications
(1899-1913)


A list of publications contained in the Mary E. (Mary Emma) Byrd Papers is as follows:

"Astronomy in the High School", article written for Popular Astronomy

First Observations in Astronomy, 1913

"First Study of Heavenly Bodies", lessons V and VIII

Laboratory for General Astronomy, 1899

"Laboratory Manual in Astronomy", 1899

"Outline of a Course in Elementary Astronomy"

"Plea for Elementary Astronomy"

Publications and list
1899-1920

Box 692: folder 4
Publication: First Observations in Astronomy
1913

Box 692: folder 5
Correspondence and records pertaining to: First Observations in Astronomy
1933-1934, n.d.

Box 692: folder 6
Publication: Laboratory Manual in Astronomy
1899

Box 692: folder 7

Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

Subjects
  • Byrd, Mary E. (Mary Emma), b. 1849.
  • Smith College--Faculty.


Questions about this collection? Contact the archives
Home | Help | About | Search