Elizabeth Agassiz: Ahead of Her Time and of Her Time
Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm
Elizabeth Cary was born into the elite of Boston. Her wealthy maternal grandfather, Thomas Handasyd Perkins, still holds court in a dramatic portrait in the Boston Athenæum’s Long Room. Despite the strict ideas about gender roles of her time, Elizabeth loved science. She married a leading scientific luminary of nineteenth-century America, Louis Agassiz, a major celebrity in his day and founder of Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology.
Author Anne Bromer describes how, against very long odds, Elizabeth founded Radcliffe College to give women, for the first time, the benefit of a Harvard education. She served as the school’s first president and wrote four books, one of which documented the daily life of women who lived along the Amazon River in Brazil.
Mrs. Agassiz also loved Nahant, a village just north of Boston which juts into the ocean at the northern tip of Boston Harbor. Here she summered from childhood.The town was the inspiration for her first two books, about the scientific and aesthetic properties of the ocean surrounding Nahant— love letters to the sea life of this island community.
Proprietor, with her husband, David, of Bromer Booksellers in Copley Square, Bromer is a graduate of the Library Science Program at Simmons College and a noted authority on illustrated and miniature books.
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