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Sarah Frances Whiting

Sarah Frances Whiting (August 23, 1847September 12, 1927), American 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 its 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, of which she became the first director.

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

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

Whiting wrote at least two books: 'History of the Physics Department of Wellesley College from 1878 to 1912, 1913' and 'The experiences of a woman physicist, 1913'.


Honors: 1883 Member, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) 1905 Honorary doctorate, Tufts College

Jobs/Positions: 1876-1912 Professor of Physics, Wellesley College 1900-1916 Director, Whitin Observatory, Wellesley College 1916-1927 Professor Emerita, Wellesley College

Education: AB Ingham College 1865

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