Richards, Ellen H. (Ellen Henrietta), 1842-1911

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Vassar College Class of 1870. Richards, first woman to graduate from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), was a chemist who pioneered in sanitation, food chemistry, public health, and home economics. She was also a founder of the Association of Collegiate Alumnae (now the American Association of University Women).

From the description of Ellen Swallow Richards papers, 1868-1934. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 51576627

From the description of Papers, 1868-1934. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 155519614

Ellen Swallow Richards gathering the scum on Jamaca Pond, Boston, Ma., 1901

Ellen Swallow was born 3 December 1842 in Dunstable, Massachusetts. She received a B.S. from Vassar College in 1870. She earned another B.S. from M.I.T. in 1873 and, in the same year, an M.A. from Vassar. She studied for a doctorate at M.I.T., but never received it, reportedly because "the heads of the department did not wish a woman to receive the first D.S. in chemistry." In 1875 she married M.I.T. chemistry professor, Robert H. Richards, and devoted the next ten years to advocating for scientific education for women. Richards was the first woman elected to the American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers and in 1882 she helped found the Association of Collegiate Alumnae (later the American Association of University Women). She was also a leader in the effort to improve physical education in colleges. She wrote three books: The Chemistry of Cooking and Cleaning (1882 and 1887), Food Materials and Their Adulteration (1885), and The Cost of Food, a Study in Dietaries (1901). In 1884, M.I.T. set up a chemical laboratory for the study of sanitation, the first of its kind, with William Nichols in charge and Ellen Richards as his assistant. During this time, Richards devised the first water purity tests and, beginning in 1887, she was put in charge of the laboratory; she ran it during the groundbreaking study of water pollution in Massachusetts that modernized sewage treatment ("The Great Sanitary Survey"), commissioned by the State Board of Health. After teaching gratis in the women's laboratory at M.I.T for eight years, when women were admitted to M.I.T. on an equal footing with men Richards was appointed to the faculty as instructor in sanitary chemistry. She also taught analysis of water, sewerage, and air in the department of sanitary engineering, established in 1890. From about 1890, she increasingly concentrated on what came to be known as the "home economics movement." Among her many accomplishments, she introduced the idea of nutritious lunches in schools; worked for public support for systematic domestic science instruction; and carried on important work for the Society to Encourage Studies at Home, founded in 1873 to "help women who needed guidance and encouragement in acquiring knowledge which they could not go to school to get." Ellen Swallow Richards died in Boston on 30 March 1911.

From the guide to the Ellen Henrietta Swallow Richards Papers MS 130., 1882 - 1910, (Sophia Smith Collection)

Chemist; Professor.

Born Ellen Swallow, Dunstable, Mass., 1842; received B.S. Vassar College, 1870; B.S. from M.I.T., 1873; M.A. Vassar, 1973; studied for a doctorate at M.I.T., but never received it. Married Professor Robert H. Richards. First woman elected to American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers; helped found the Association of Collegiate Alumnae (later the American Association of University Women) in 1882; leader in effort to improve physical education in colleges; published The Chemistry of Cooking and Cleaning (1882) and Food Materials and Their Adulteration (1885); ran M.I.T.'s chemical laboratory for study of sanitation; received appointment to faculty as instructor in sanitary chemistry. Also taught analysis of water, sewerage, and air, and devised the first water purity tests, conducting the "Great Sanitary Survey" which modernized sewage treatment. Increasingly involved in home economics movement, 1890s on, introducing ideas of nutritious lunches in schools and systematic domestic science instruction.

From the description of Papers, 1882-1910. (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 49336593

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Talbot, Marion. Papers, 1854-1948 Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library,
creatorOf Richards, Ellen Swallow, 1842-1911. Papers, 1868-1934. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Papers, Papers, 1886- Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
referencedIn Napels Table Association for Promoting Laboratory Research by Women. Annual meeting photograph, 1909. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Bowyer, Helen. [Child care and hygiene collection]. Stanford University Lane Medical Library
creatorOf Atkinson, Edward, 1827-1905. Edward Atkinson papers, 1836-1905, bulk: 1847-1905. Massachusetts Historical Society
referencedIn Abrams, Rochonne Weintraub. Good earthkeeping : American women pioneers in ecology, 1843-1993 : typescript, 1994. Iowa State University, Parks Library
referencedIn The Notable Women of Boston. Harvard University, Schlesinger Library
creatorOf Parloa, Maria, 1843-1909. [Culinary ephemera : war]. Box 340. University of Michigan, William Clements Library
referencedIn Collection on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Women's Laboratory, Bulk, 1873-1883, 1867-1922 Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Institute Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Talbot, Marion, 1858-1948. Papers, 1854-1948 (inclusive). University of Chicago Library
creatorOf Richards, Ellen Swallow, 1842-1911. Ellen Swallow Richards papers, 1868-1934. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn William Barton Rogers papers, Bulk, 1834-1882, 1804-1950 Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Institute Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Papers, 1784 (1832-1939) 1944 Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
referencedIn A Collection of autographs in the Goucher College Library. Goucher College, Goucher College Library
referencedIn American Association of University Women. Boston Branch. Records, 1886-1978 (inclusive). Harvard University, Schlesinger Library
referencedIn Maryland Home Economics Association. Maryland Home Economics Association archives, 1913-1998. University of Maryland Libraries, UMD Libraries
creatorOf Ellen Henrietta Swallow Richards Papers MS 130., 1882 - 1910 Sophia Smith Collection
creatorOf Richards, Ellen H. (Ellen Henrietta), 1842-1911. The Rumford Kitchen : the exhibit of The New England kitchen at the World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893 / [Ellen H. Richards]. Minuteman Library Network
creatorOf OAC Review Index. Macdonald : a challenge to graduates in Home Economics, OAC Review, v.38, no. 4, Dec. 1925, p.165-166. University of Guelph
creatorOf Richards, Ellen H. (Ellen Henrietta), 1842-1911. Papers, 1882-1910. Smith College, Neilson Library
referencedIn Blackwell family. Papers, 1784-1944 (inclusive), 1832-1939 (bulk). Harvard University, Schlesinger Library
creatorOf OAC Review Index. Macdonald, OAC Review, v.24, no.10, July 1912, p.599-604. University of Guelph
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Abrams, Rochonne Weintraub. person
associatedWith American Association of University Women corporateBody
associatedWith American Association of University Women. Boston Branch. corporateBody
associatedWith Association of Collegiate Alumnae (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Atkinson, Edward, 1827-1905. person
associatedWith Blackwell family. family
associatedWith BLACKWELL FAMILY family
associatedWith Boston Branch of the American Association of University Women, 1886- corporateBody
associatedWith Maryland Home Economics Association. corporateBody
associatedWith Massachusetts Institute Of Technology corporateBody
associatedWith Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Women's Laboratory corporateBody
associatedWith Mineah, Anna. person
associatedWith Napels Table Association for Promoting Laboratory Research by Women. corporateBody
associatedWith OAC Review Index. corporateBody
associatedWith OAC Review Index. corporateBody
associatedWith Richards, Robert H. person
associatedWith Rogers, William Barton, 1804-1882 person
associatedWith Rumford, Benjamin, Graf von, 1753-1814. person
associatedWith Talbot, Marion, 1858-1948. person
associatedWith Vassar College corporateBody
associatedWith World's Columbian Exposition (1893 : Chicago, Ill.) corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts
New England
United States
New York (State)--Poughkeepsie
Massachusetts--Jamaica Pond
New York (State)--Poughkeepsie
Subject
Women chemists--History--Sources
Nutrition--Study and teaching--United States--History--Sources
Food--Analysis
Women--Education
Women chemists--United States--History--Sources
Women in science
Water--Purification--History--Sources
Women's colleges
Ecology
Public health
Water--Purification--Massachusetts--History--Sources
Nutrition--Study and teaching--History--Sources
Ecology--Massachusetts--Jamaica Pond
Sanitary chemistry--Study and teaching--History--Sources
Kitchens
Home economics
Home economics--Study and teaching--History--Sources
Women scientists--History--Sources
Sanitation
Women scientists--United States--History--Sources
Occupation
Women chemists
Function

Person

Birth 1842-12-03

Death 1911-03-30

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