Women and Science
Nice, Margaret Morse | Research is a Passion with Me
First edition, first printing of the autobiography of ornithologist Margaret Morse Nice (1883-1974), who was credited by Konrad Lorenz with “founding the science of ethology” (Ogilvie p. 939). A beautiful copy, uncommon in such nice condition.
Despite early setbacks — a father who disapproved of careers for women and the abandonment her doctorate after marriage — Nice successfully pursued her interest in ornithology. Prompted by a proposal to expand Oklahoma hunting season, she began studying the nesting habits of mourning doves, and was soon publishing articles on many local species. Together with her husband, Nice published the first comprehensive survey of the birds of Oklahoma. After moving to Ohio she became interested in song sparrows, and “an invention of hers made it possible to recognize individual birds in the field. Although other ornithologists marked birds with numbered leg bands to study migration patterns of populations, Nice used colored celluloid bands to identify individual birds in the field” and so study their behaviour (Ogilvie, pp. 939-940). As Konrad Lorenz writes in the introduction to this volume, the resulting paper was “a major break-through in the methods of studying animal behaviour... the first long-term field investigation of the individual life of any free-living wild animal”.
The paper received international acclaim, and Nice made strong contacts with European researchers. She worked with Lorenz during trips overseas in the 1930s, reviewed European papers, and translated foreign research for American publications. Nice was horrified by conditions on the Continent following the Second World War, and organised relief efforts from American ornithologists. She was also active in environmental causes, and worked to prevent the development of important natural sites such as Dinosaur National Monument and the Whichita National Wildlife Refuge.
...Forward by Konrad Lorenz. Toronto: The Margaret Morse Nice Ornithological Club and Consolidated Amethyst Communications Inc., 1979.
Octavo. Original brown cloth blocked and white and black. With the dust jacket. Portrait frontispiece, illustrated title with a bird design matching that of the jacket and cloth, headpiece to each chapter, illustrations throughout the text. A superb, fresh copy in the jacket with minor rubbing at the extremities and a small pen impression to the lower panel.
Pitt-Rivers, Rosalind & Jamshed R. Tata. | The Thyroid Hormones
First edition, first printing of this key work by one of Britain’s leading biochemists. A beautiful copy in the jacket.
Rosalind Pitt-Rivers earned her PhD in biochemistry in 1939 under the supervision of Sir Charles Harington, whose lab at the National Institute for Medical research she then joined. The Second World War interrupted her career, but in 1950 she returned to Harington’s lab. “This move turned out to be a propitious event in her scientific career. Inspired by Harington's major interest in elucidating the structure of thyroid hormones, she became deeply involved with biochemical research on how what was then thought to be the only thyroid hormone, L-thyroxine (T4), was synthesized in the thyroid gland. In 1951 a young Canadian endocrinologist, Jack Gross, joined Pitt-Rivers as a postdoctoral fellow to discover more about an unidentified iodine-containing compound that he had earlier observed in human and rodent blood. Taking advice from experts in analytical biochemistry at that time working at the NIMR (in particular, A. J. P. Martin, A. T. James, and H. Gordon), Pitt-Rivers and Gross very rapidly identified this unknown compound to be 3,3ʹ,5-triiodothyronine (T3), a report of which was published in The Lancet in 1952. At about the same time a group in Paris at the Collège de France (S. Lissitzky, R. Michel, and J. Roche) identified T3 in the thyroid gland and showed that it was made there as a component of thyroglobulin and secreted into the bloodstream. The following year Gross and Pitt-Rivers were able to demonstrate that a large part of T3 in the blood was derived from T4, and that it was considerably more potent than its precursor, thus establishing T3 to be the principal thyroid hormone. The discovery of triiodothyronine quickly brought Pitt-Rivers international recognition, including her election as a fellow of the Royal Society in 1954” (ODNB).
...With a Chapter on Diseases of the Thyroid. New York: Pergamon Press, 1959.
Octavo. Original burgundy cloth, titles to spine and upper board gilt. With the dust jacket. 3 plates, of which 1 is double-sided. Faint partial toning of the endpapers. An excellent, fresh copy in the jacket that is lightly rubbed along the extremities with light toning of the spine panel.
Skloot, Rebecca | The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
First edition, first printing. A superb copy, signed and dated “3/29/10” by the author on the half title.
In 1951 Henrietta Lacks, a 31-year-old African American woman, died of ovarian cancer at Johns Hopkins. Unbeknownst to herself or her family, doctors used her biopsy to culture a line of cells that revolutionised medicine. Previously, no human cell culture had survived for more than a few days in the laboratory, seriously limiting their usefulness to research. Lacks’s cultures, however, survived for weeks, then months, and eventually decades, becoming essentially immortal. Dubbed “HeLa”, they are now mass produced and have been used to study almost every major medical question of the last seventy years. HeLa cells have been key to the development of vaccines, including the Salk polio vaccine; to identifying and treating AIDS and other emerging diseases; to our understanding of cell biology, genetics, and ageing; and in the development of medications for a range of illnesses.
But this scientific success has a darker side. There are serious concerns about how Lacks’s race affected her medical care and the treatment of her family by the scientific community. Neither Lacks nor any of her relatives provided informed consent for her cells to be retained and studied, much less for them to become a multi-million dollar industry over which they have no control. And her descendants fear the privacy implications of their genome being made public.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks approaches the HeLa cells from this perspective, and is based on nearly a decade of personal interviews and archival research. Skloot focuses in particular on Lacks’s daughter, Deborah, who spent years fighting for access to the full story of her mother’s cells and to ensuring that her life and legacy would be honoured. The book also situates Lacks within the wider context of racism in medicine, and how Black women’s bodies have frequently been co-opted for the benefit of white doctors and patients. Now considered a key work of popular science writing, it spent 75 weeks on the New York Times best seller list and received numerous awards, including the Wellcome Trust Book Prize and the National Academies Best Book of the Year Award.
New York: Crown Publishers, 2010.
Octavo. Original red boards, titles to spine gilt. With the dust jacket. Illustrated title and chapter titles, 8 pages of illustrations from photographs. A fine copy in the jacket.
Talbot, Marion | The Education of Women
First edition, first printing. In the rare dust jacket.
Marion Talbot (1858-1948), one of the founders of the American Association of University Women, was raised in a family “deeply involved in education”, her mother serving as a leading figure in the establishment of Girl’s Latin School, a Boston institution offering a college preparatory curriculum for women.
Talbot graduated from Boston University and then joined the new Woman’s Laboratory at MIT. “The Laboratory was then studying the adulteration of foods an the chemical constituents of common household materials” (Ogilvie, Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science, p. 1262). Talbot worked closely with Ellen Swallow Richards, the laboratory’s founder, and together they published a book on home sanitation. Later, Talbot joined the University of Chicago as an assistant professor in home economics, becoming dean of women’s instruction three years later. “At Chicago, Talbot actively investigated the nutritional requirements of college women and wrote a second book with Richards on this topic. She also developed a house system for the women and helped establish a woman’s student union with a hall that included a gymnasium and pool” (Ogilvie, p. 1262).
The present volume describes recent social and economic changes in the lives of women in the United States, and explains how women’s needs can be better met at every level of education.
Chicago: The University of Chicago, 1910.
Octavo. Original dark green cloth, title to spine gilt. With the rare dust jacket. Spine rolled, dampstain and loss of size affecting the head of the spine, top edge of the lower board, and verso of the jacket, contents faintly toned with occasional light spots. A very good copy in the price-clipped jacket that is rubbed, toned, and foxed, with tanned spine panel, a small chip from the upper panel, and small chips at the head and tail of the spine panel.