Vassar College

Wonder Woman Spread from DC Comics, 1951, featuring Ellen Swallow Richards, class of 1870

Wonder Woman is ™ and © DC Comics. Used with Permission.

The above 1951 comic feature took an admirable, if somewhat era-specific, perspective on the role of women in science. Without question, Ellen Swallow Richards, class of 1870, was a remarkable 19th Century scientist. She was the first woman admitted to study at M.I.T., although it was as a “special student” to ascertain women’s abilities. During her accomplished life, she taught at M.I.T., and founded its Women’s Laboratory. She developed a new curriculum in air, water, and sewage chemistry, leading to the first state water-quality standards in the country. She co-founded Woods Hole and the American Association of University Women, and she was the first to use the term ecology to describe her field. Learn more about Ellen Swallow Richards in Vassar Innovators and Vassar Encyclopedia articles.

Photo of Ellen Swallow Richards, class of 1870

Ellen Swallow Richards, class of 1870