Women of Science : Working Women of CMNH's Botany Hall

Women Behind Botany Hall

There were hundreds of women that worked behind the scenes for Botany Hall, both museum staff and volunteers. Three women in particular, Dorothy E.L. Pearth, Hanne von Fuehrer, and Elizabeth Niedringhaus, played an important role within the museum. Through each woman’s work and experiences, I explore women’s relationship with the museum and botany. In their own way, these three women have pioneered through the challenges of working in the Natural History Museum, a typically male-dominated sphere. Their efforts in botanical scholarship and craftsmanship have helped make working in the museum more accessible to women.  

As I learned more about these three women's work and their contributions to the museum, I began to notice three different overarching themes within my findings. Dorothy Pearth contradicted societal expectations on women working in the sciences. Hanne von Fuehrer faced difficulty gaining proper recognition for her efforts but did not falter. Being a working woman in the 60s and 70s allowed Elizabeth Niedringhaus to have more authority inside the museum than the two women before her. These themes make evident the ways in which feminism and growing women's rights altered society.

The next page steps out of chronology and begins with Dorothy Pearth. Though Pearth came to the museum fourteen years after Hanne von Fuehrer, the significance of a woman on the curatorial team of Botany Hall needs great attention. 

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