02 4 / 2013
Google doodle celebrates Maria Sibylla Merian’s 366th birthday.
Maria Sibylla Merian was a 17th century German-born naturalist, entomologist, and botanical illustrator. She observed and documented the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly and traveled to South America to study and paint the wildlife.
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20 9 / 2012
Elinor Sneshell was a female barber surgeon who was active during the reign of Elizabeth I of England. In the 1593 Returns of Strangers in the Metropolis, she was listed as a widow originating from Valenciennes who had been resident in London for 26 years. Sneshell was one of only two known female barber surgeons who practiced during this period.
During medieval Europe, physicians did not partake in surgery. It was conducted by barbers who often provided surgical and dental services to soldiers injured during wars.
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17 9 / 2012
Jane Sharp was a 17th century English midwife. In 1671 she published The Midwives Book: or the Whole Art of Midwifery Discovered, becoming the first English woman to publish a book on midwifery. In her book, she combines the medical knowledge of the time with personal anecdote and states her belief that the profession of midwifery should be reserved for women. The book is still in print as a primary source of information about women, childbirth and sexuality during the Renaissance.
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17 9 / 2012
Plates from Metamorphosis by Maria Sybilla Merian
“In my youth, I spent my time investigating insects. At the beginning, I started with silk worms in my home town of Frankfurt. I realized that other caterpillars produced beautiful butterflies or moths, and that silk worms did the same. This led me to collect all the caterpillars I could find in order to see how they changed”. — Maria Sybilla Merian (foreword from Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium)
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14 9 / 2012
Elisabeth Catherina Koopmann Hevelius (1647-1693) was a Polish astronomer and second wife of astronomer Johannes Hevelius. She was called “the mother of moon charts”.
The marriage of the sixteen year old to fifty two year old Hevelius in 1663 allowed her also to pursue her own interest in astronomy by helping him manage his observatory. Following his death in 1687, she completed and published Prodromus astronomiae (1690), their jointly compiled catalogue of 1,564 stars and their positions.
The minor planet 12625 Koopman is named in her honour, as is the crater Corpman on Venus.
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14 9 / 2012
Beatriz Galindo (1465-1534) was a Spanish physician and educator. She was one of the most educated women of her time and was known as “La Latina” for her skill in Latin.
Beatriz received her education in Italy where she received her degree in Latin and Philosophy from the University of Salerno. She then became a professor at the University of Salamanca (in Spain), where she taught rhetoric, philosophy and medicine. She was tutor to Queen Isabella of Castile and also taught her children including Catherine of Aragon. She founded the Hospital of the Holy Cross (Santa Cruz de Madrid) in 1506 in Madrid, which still exists today.
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10 9 / 2012
Jeanne Dumée (died 1706) was a French astronomer and author.
Dumée married early and when she became a widow at 17, she dedicated her life to studying astronomy. She was the author of the manuscript Discusión da opinión de Copérnico sobre o movemento da Terra (1680), which was praised for its analysis of the motions of the earth. An advocate of women’s right to study science, Dumée tried to refute the idea that a woman’s brain was not equal to a man’s, a common notion in her day.
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07 9 / 2012
Maria Cunitz (1610-1664) was a Silesian (a historic region of Central Europe located mostly in Poland) astronomer and one of the most notable female astronomers of the modern era. She authored a book Urania propitia, in which she provided new tables, new ephemera, and a more elegant solution to Kepler’s problem, which is to determine the position of a planet in its orbit as a function of time. Many people did not believe a women had written the book and her husband had to add a preface into the book to verify that he hadn’t helped her. She worked alongside Johannes Kepler, translating and simplifying his work that determined a way to predict how planets move around the Sun and often corrected some mistakes in his calculations. The Cunitz crater on Venus is named after her. The minor planet 12624 Mariacunitia is named in her honor.
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05 9 / 2012
Sophia Brahe. (1556-1643) was a Danish horticulturalist and student of astronomy, chemistry, and medicine, best known for assisting her brother, the famous astronomer Tycho Brahe, with his astronomical observations.
Sophia was born into a Danish noble family, her father being an advisor to the King of Denmark. She started assisting her brother with his astronomical observations in 1573, and helped him with the work that became the basis for modern planetary orbit predictions. Tycho had trained her in horticulture and chemistry but she learned astronomy on her own. Brother and sister were united not only by science, but by the fact that their family did not approve of science as being an appropriate activity for noble people.
During her first marriage, she became a horticulturist, creating beautiful gardens, and also studied chemistry and medicine, particularly focused on Paracelsian medicine. After her first husband died, she met a noblemen who studied alchemy and were later married. Due to using his money for alchemy experiments and Sophia’s family depriving her of money because of her interest in science, the two lived mostly in poverty. Sophia also wrote a genealogy of noble Danish families, which is still considered an important historic source.
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