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  • 9/14/2004

Sarah Frances Whiting

(August 23, 1847 – September 12, 1927)

Sarah Frances Whiting, US physicist and astronomer, was the instructor to several astronomers, including Annie Jump Cannon.

Whiting graduated from Ingham College in 1865. She visited MIT as its first female physics student. While there, she observed their undergraduate physics labs.

Whiting joined Wellesley College in 1876 as its first professor of physics. She established their physics department and the undergraduate physics labs at Wellesley, the second of its kind to be started in the country. In her teaching, she introduced the laboratory method.

While at MIT, Whiting met a physics professor named Edward Pickering. In 1877, Pickering left MIT to become the director of the Harvard College Observatory. He invited Whiting to observe some of the new techniques being applied to astronomy, such as spectroscopy. In 1880, Whiting started teaching a course on Practical Astronomy at Wellesley.

In 1900, Whiting helped to establish the Wellesley College observatory, Whitin Observatory. Whiting then she became its first director.

Whiting retired from Wellesley in 1916 and was a Professor Emerita until her death 1927.

In 1905, Whiting received an honorary doctorate from Tufts College. Whiting also was known for supporting prohibition.

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