Historian
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New Projects

 

New Projects

 
 
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Sister ScientiSTS: Margaretta Hare Morris & Elizabeth Carrington Morris

Sister Scientists is the untold story of Margaretta Hare Morris and Elizabeth Carrington Morris, two women who transformed American science in the nineteenth century. Famous for her work with seventeen-year cicadas, Margaretta was an entomologist whose discoveries of insects and their impacts on farms and orchards led to her becoming one of the first women elected to both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. Margaretta’s older sister Elizabeth was a botanist who preferred anonymity to accolades. Even still, she became a trusted expert of Philadelphia’s flora who supplied the country’s leading botanists with plants, while also illustrating scientific books and articles, and authoring articles in popular science journals. Despite the important roles they played in their fields, despite being pathbreakers, both Margaretta and Elizabeth have been forgotten. Sister Scientists is not only about remembering their lives and work, but also about probing into why they have been forgotten, tracing the multiple ways that their legacies were lost. Their erasure becomes a larger story about the transformation of American science and the ways narratives and memorialization honored some while forgetting others.


A Truly urban tree: the Ailanthus in American cities

Today reviled as invasive, the Ailanthus tree was once celebrated as a delightfully fast-growing and elegant  city tree during the early nineteenth century, lining newly paved streets and resisting omnipresent inchworms that infested so many urban trees. However, once its rank smell began to dominate urban air each June, it quickly fell out of favor, and critics tagged it as a filthy foreign invader. By looking at the complicated history of this persistent tree that would eventually gain fame in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, this project will reveal the changing understandings of urban nature.

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