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February 4, 1888

Over 200 alumnae attended the annual winter reunion in New York City. Elated at the trustee decision to include three of their number on the board, they appointed a polling committee to solicit nominations and to conduct a poll of all eligible alumnae to determine what three alumnae to nominate.

Maria Mitchell, who had recently retired, was unable to attend the public reception planned for her at the meeting. “Prof. Mitchell,” The New York Times reported, “had written from her home in Lynn, Mass., that an attempt to grow young at 70 was not often successful. It went to her heart, she wrote, not to be able to be with her old pupils, but she longed for rest after a half century of labor. To the Alumn[ae] she wrote: ‘I have watched you even more than I have the stars. I rejoice in every good work done through you, and in each onward step taken by you in the advancement of women.’”

Addresses by two distinguished alumnae concluded the meeting. In “An Unknown Mathematician,” mathematician, symbolic logician and physical psychologist Christine Ladd-Franklin ’69, a fellow at Johns Hopkins and a former student of Maria Mitchell, spoke on the life and achievement of the early 19th century French polymath Sophie Germain. Mary Augusta Jordan ’71, linguist and chair of the English department at Smith College, spoke on “The Dangers and Safeguards of an Elective Scheme of Education.” Noting that Jordan had earned a master’s degree in metaphysics and had studied “languages from modern Italian to ancient Gothic, Icelandic, and even Sanskrit,” The Times concluded that “Miss Jordan felt very much at home in her subject.”

The Years