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Florence Bascom
(1862-1945)

American geologist, head of the Dept. of Geology at Bryn Mawr College, the first woman in the United States to hold a PhD in Geology, and the first woman geologist ever hired by the U.S. Geological Survey. She was was born in Williamstown, Massachusetts in 1862, the daughter of John Bascom, the President of Williams College, and Emma Curtiss, a suffragist and reformer. Her father encouraged her interest in natural science, and she became fascinated with geology as a result of a trip to Mammoth Cave. She earned her BS in 1884, her MS in1887, and attempted to enroll in the PhD program at Johns Hopkins University. The University refused to enroll her as a regular student, but allowed her to attend classes sitting behind a screen, out of sight of the male students. She persevered, taking a full program of graduate studies. She was among the first American petrologists to utilize thin-section studies, and her work was so exemplary and professional that she was awarded the PhD in 1893.

Bascom's bibliography numbers about 40 published works, including "Geology and mineral resources of the Honeybrook and Phoenixville quadrangles, Pennsylvania" (1938), "Geomorphology of the Central Appalachians" (1933), "Geology and mineral resources of the Quakertown-Doylestown district, Pennsylvania and New Jersey" (1931; USGS Bulletin 828), and "The use of the two-circle contact goniometer in teaching crystallog" (1920, American Mineralogist), as well as numerous other publications. Florence Bascom was elected to Fellowship in The Geological Society of America in 1894, and initiated an important geology program for women at Bryn Mawr College in 1895.

Reference:
LININGER, J. (1994) Florence Bascom, the stone lady. Matrix, 3, no. 5-6, p. 125-127.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2017)
Mineralogical Record
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The Mineralogical Record - Florence Bascom Florence Bascom
(1862-1945)
(Bryn Mawr photo)
The Mineralogical Record - Florence Bascom 59 x 81 mm,
Label for a specimen used in her study of the Phoenixville area.
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