Agnes Chase Appointed Assistant in Systematic Agrostology

Smithsonian Archives - History Div

Agnes Chase Appointed Assistant in Systematic Agrostology

Author
Hitchcock, A. S (Albert Spear) 1865-1935
Subject
Chase, Agnes 1869-1963
Hitchcock, A. S (Albert Spear) 1865-1935
National Museum of Natural History (U.S.)
United States National Museum
United States Dept. of Agriculture Bureau of Plant Industry
United States Dept. of Agriculture
National Museum of Natural History (U.S.) Dept. of Botany
Smithsonian Institution Building (Washington, D.C.)
United States National Herbarium
United States National Museum Dept. of Botany
Category
Chronology of Smithsonian History
Although Chase was paid by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, her work station was in the U.S. National Herbarium in the Smithsonian Castle caring for the economically important grasses in the national collections.
The photograph of Chase is from Smithsonian Archives negative # SIA-MAH-45234.
Henson, Pamela M. "'What holds the earth together': Agnes Chase and American agrostology." Journal of the History of Biology. 36 (3)(2003): 437-460. doi:10.1023/b:hist.0000004568.11609.2d
Summary
[Mary] Agnes Chase (1869-1963) is appointed Assistant in Systematic Agrostology, Bureau of Plant Industry, United States Department of Agriculture, stationed at the Smithsonian Castle working with the U.S. National Herbarium. She is also a honorary custodian of the grass collection for the Smithsonian's National Museum. She advances to Assistant Botanist in 1923, Associate Botanist in 1925 and Senior Botanist in 1936. She becomes the world's expert on grasses which she said are "what holds the earth together." She retired from the USDA in 1939, but continued as Honorary Custodian at the National Museum until her death in 1963.
Chase was one of a very small number of professional women employees at the Smithsonian until the second half of the 20th century. Chase was also a member of the radical Women's Party advocating suffrage in the 1910s. Her mentor, Albert Spear Hitchcock, refused to fire her for "conduct unbecoming a government employee." Other social activism included the Socialist Party, National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples, and Women's Christian Temperance Union.
Contact information
Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu
1907
Smithsonian Archives - History Div
Topic
Museum curators
Women--Employees
Women Scientists
Women
Women--History
Smithsonian Institution--Employees
Grasses
Women--Suffrage
Agrostology
Record ID
siris_sic_14854

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