Last modified on 19 April 2014, at 13:54

Maria Mitchell

Maria Mitchell.jpg

Maria Mitchell (August 1, 1818June 28, 1889) was the first American woman to work as a professional astronomer.


  • Study as if you were going to live forever; live as if you were going to die tomorrow.
    • The Book of Positive Quotations By John Cook, Leslie Ann Gibson (2nd ed 2007), p.283
  • We especially need imagination in science. It is not all mathematics, nor all logic, but it is somewhat beauty and poetry. There will come with the greater love of science greater love to one another. Living more nearly to Nature is living farther from the world and from its follies, but nearer to the world's people; it is to be of them, with them, and for them, and especially for their improvement. We cannot see how impartially Nature gives of her riches to all, without loving all, and helping all; and if we cannot learn through Nature's laws the certainty of spiritual truths, we can at least learn to promote spiritual growth while we are together, and live in a trusting hope of a greater growth in the future.
    • Maria Mitchell: Life, Letters and Journals (illustrated) By Maria Mitchell, 1896, p.186
  • The great gain would be freedom of thought. Women, more than men, are bound by tradition and authority. What the father, the brother, the doctor, and the minister have said has been received undoubtingly. Until women throw off this reverence for authority they will not develop. When they do this, when they come to truth through their investigations, when doubt leads them to discovery, the truth which they get will be theirs, and their minds will work on and on unfettered.
    • Maria Mitchell: Life, Letters and Journals (illustrated) By Maria Mitchell, 1896, p.186
  • I know I shall be called heterodox, and that unseen lightning flashes and unheard thunderbolts will be playing around my head, when I say that women will never be profound students in any other department except music while they give four hours a day to the practice of music. I should by all means encourage every woman who is born with musical gifts to study music; but study it as a science and an art, and not as an accomplishment; and to every woman who is not musical, I should say, 'Don't study it at all;' you cannot afford four hours a day, out of some years of your life, just to be agreeable in company upon possible occasions. If for four hours a day you studied, year after year, the science of language, for instance, do you suppose you would not be a linguist? Do you put the mere pleasing of some social party, and the reception of a few compliments, against the mental development of four hours a day of study of something for which you were born? When I see that girls who are required by their parents to go through with the irksome practising really become respectable performers, I wonder what four hours a day at something which they loved, and for which God designed them, would do for them. I should think that to a real scientist in music there would be something mortifying in this rush of all women into music; as there would be to me if I saw every girl learning the constellations, and then thinking she was an astronomer!
    • Maria Mitchell: Life, Letters and Journals (illustrated) By Maria Mitchell, 1896, p.189
  • There is this great danger in student life. Now, we rest all upon what Socrates said, or what Copernicus taught; how can we dispute authority which has come down to us, all established, for ages? We must at least question it; we cannot accept anything as granted, beyond the first mathematical formulae. Question everything else.
    • Maria Mitchell: Life, Letters and Journals (illustrated) By Maria Mitchell, 1896, p.188
  • An English village could never be mistaken for an American one: the outline against the sky differs; a thatched cottage makes a very wavy line on the blue above.
    • Maria Mitchell: Life, Letters and Journals (illustrated) By Maria Mitchell, 1896 [1]

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