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Florence Bascom

"The fascination of any search after truth lies not in the attainment, which at best is found to be very relative, but in the pursuit, where all the powers of the mind and character are brought into play and are absorbed in the task. One feels oneself in contact with something that is infinite and one finds a joy that is beyond expression in 'sounding the abyss of science' and the secrets of the infinite mind."
-Florence Bascom

Florence Bascom was born in 1862 in Williamston, Massachusetts, the youngest of six children. In 1877, Florence enrolled in her father's college where he was a professor, the University of Wisconsin, and was able to get her Bachelor's degrees in Art and Letters in 1882 and her Bachelor's degree in Science in 1884. While at the University of Wisconsin, Florence learned about geology, of which she had always had a fascination ever since she went on her father's tours.

In 1889, after Florence graduated, she decided to attend Johns Hopkins University and receive a Ph.D. in geology, which she did in 1893, even though she had to sit behind a screen (for women were not yet allowed) so she wouldn't bother the male students. She was the second woman to get a Ph.D. in geology.

Florence also taught various subjects including geology while she attended college and graduate school. She taught at Hampton University (then called Hampton Institute for Negroes and American Indians) from 1884 to 1885, Rockford College from 1887 to 1889, and Ohio State University from 1893 to 1895. Then, in 1895, Florence founded the geology department at Bryn Mawr College and was also a professor of geology there.

Florence Bascom is considered to be the "first woman geologist in this country." She was the first woman to be part of the Geological Survey in 1896, the first woman to show her own paper in front of the Geological Society of Washington, the first woman to participate in the Council of Geological Society of America, and also the first woman to hold any office (she was vice-president) in the Geological Survey of America. She was an expert in petrography, crystallography, and mineralogy, and was also the associate editor of a newspaper that ran from 1896 to 1905 called the American Geologist. Florence definitely deserves to be recognized for all she has accomplished.

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