A group of African American women (members of the "Smart Set Club") pose on a staircase
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Scurlock Studio Records, ca. 1905-1994, Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Her story is your story.

Vera Rubin gazes at the sky through a telescope
I knew what mattered.
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Vera Rubin

Astronomer

HOW COULD YOU possibly live on this Earth and not want to unravel the mystery of the cosmos?

I didn’t know a single astronomer. But, I really wanted to study astronomy, and I needed a scholarship to go to college. I applied to three places. One of them was Vassar.

The day I was notified I got a scholarship, I walked around the halls, and I met Mr. Himes, my physics teacher. I told him I had a scholarship to Vassar. And he said, “As long as you stay away from science, you should do okay.”

Vera Rubin’s spectrograph is at the Smithsonian. It will be used to tell her story and other women’s stories of pursuing ambition and reaching for the stars.

Credits

Photo: Vera Rubin at Vassar College, 1947. Courtesy AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives

Content: David H. DeVorkin interview with Vera Rubin, National Air and Space Museum, 1995

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The American Women’s History Initiative will amplify women’s voices to honor the past, inform the present and inspire the future.

Bella Abzug (in hat), Betty Freidan (right, in trench coat) and Billie Jean King (far right) accompany torch relay runners into Houston, 1977. Unknown photographer; National Archives
About the image
Bella Abzug (in hat), Betty Freidan (right, in trench coat) and Billie Jean King (far right) accompany torch relay runners into Houston, 1977. Unknown photographer; National Archives.