[n.p.]: 1914-1915. Exceptionally dense and detailed Astronomy I class notebook, comprised of 81 handwritten pages in pencil, 3 folding hand-drawn diagrams and star maps, 3 additional pasted in maps and photos, and numerous hand-drawn illustrations of constellations, astronomical tools, and the surface of the moon. Bound in a cloth and brown paper composition book with handwritten paper label on front. The notebook begins with a detailed 4 page table of contents before moving into observations and calculations related to the constellations, sun, and moon. Composed in pencil throughout, with occasional red ink corrections by the instructor.
Enrolled in her science course from the winter of 1914 into the spring of 1915, student Margaret Alcott was studying at an exciting moment in the history of astronomy. Though the field continued to be heavily male dominated, women like Annie Jump Cannon, Henrietta Swan Leavitt, Phoebe Waterman, and Mary Proctor were making cutting edge discoveries and distributing their findings. These accomplishments shaped the lessons Alcott took, as she records the variable brightness of stars throughout the months (Leavitt, Period Lumosity), considers spectra (Cannon), and makes use of telescope and telescopic photos to look at surfaces (Waterman and Proctor). While Alcott records verbal observations on the appearance and movements of celestial bodies, she also uses geometry to calculate their movements and placement relative to each other and to the Earth. Large portions of the notebook are dedicated to these calculations. A dedicated student, Alcott's work is rarely corrected; when red ink does appear, the instructor is usually questioning a turn of phrase of the use of a word in describing an object. While we've been unable to locate information on Alcott's identity, the level of the work being done suggests that this was a high school or early college level course.
A unique and important manuscript created at a time when women were increasingly gaining access to the field of astronomy, and were making a push to have their contributions recognized. With research possibilities including but not limited to comparative astronomy, the history of women in science, the history or science, and the history of education. (Item #2729)