Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Hockey, Virginia Trimble, Thomas R. Williams, Katherine Bracher, Richard A. Jarrell, Jordan D. MarchéII, JoAnn Palmeri, Daniel W. E. Green

Byrd, Mary Emma

  • Jordan D. MarchéIIEmail author
Reference work entry

BornLe Roy, Michigan, USA, 15 November 1849

DiedLawrence, Kansas, USA, 30 July 1934

Mary Byrd directed the Smith College Observatory, determined the positions of comets by photographic astrometry, and pioneered the development of laboratory teaching methods in descriptive astronomy.

Byrd’s father was an itinerant Congregational minister, the Reverend John Huntington Byrd; her mother was Elizabeth Adelaide Low. After age six, Byrd grew up in Kansas and later attended Oberlin College and the University of Michigan, where she earned an A.B. degree (1878). After 4 years as a teacher and a high-school principal, Byrd spent a year as a voluntary assistant at the Harvard College Observatory, under  Edward Pickering. Between 1883 and 1887, she taught mathematics and astronomy at Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota, and operated its time service under the supervision of  William Payne. Byrd later earned her Ph.D. in astronomy at Carleton (1904). Like many women who chose to pursue a...

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Selected References

  1. Bailey, Martha J. (1994). “Byrd, Mary Emma.” In American Women in Science: A Biographical Dictionary. Denver: ABC-CLIO, p. 46.Google Scholar
  2. Hoblit, Louise Barber (1934). “Mary E. Byrd.” Popular Astronomy 42: 496–498.Google Scholar
  3. Lankford, John (1997). American Astronomy: Community, Careers, and Power, 1859–1940. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, esp. pp. 318–319, 332.Google Scholar
  4. Marché II, Jordan D. (2002). “Mental Discipline, Curricular Reform, and the Decline of U. S. Astronomy Education, 1893–1920.” Astronomy Education Review 1: 58–75.ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WisconsinMadisonUSA