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How seventeenth-century sisters broke the mould on scientific illustration (nature.com)
31 points by myinnerbanjo 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 4 comments

My 1880's local history book I found in the used-book store is an example of the women-blindness that plagues history. It catalogues the accomplishment of men of the previous 50 years. When women are mentioned, their first names are rarely given and their accomplishments are restricted to home crafts.

I noticed three remarkable men in the biographies section during my perusal. One became the town's mercantile giant; another dominated publishing and later the coal market for the entire state; the third became Governor and later a federal Secretary.

What did these men have in common? They all started out as simple men - a clerk, a printer, a country lawyer. Then they all married a Clark sister - daughters in a founding farming and stock trading family in the area, educated and cultured. From then on, their husbands' progress was stratospheric, success after success.

I imagine these three sisters, having tea on Sunday, comparing notes and planning their husband's lives. Changing the history of the state and nation.

What do we know about them? Not even their first names. They are all listed as Mrs somebody.

Did they break the mould or were they just really good at their jobs? Excellent illustrations to be sure in any case.

I guess the part to take away from this is that at the time women were not employed in creating illustrations due to the labor involved in cutting the copper plates. Although the article doesn't really offer any other examples of women coming after them, how they opened the field of scientific illustrating to more women.

Fun fact, their father Martin Lister invented the histogram.

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