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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.

This collection is organized into four series:


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.