Young, Anne Sewell (1871–1961)

views updated

Young, Anne Sewell (1871–1961)

American astronomer. Born in Bloomington, Wisconsin, in 1871; died in Claremont, California, in 1961; daughter of Albert Young (a cleric) and Mary (Sewell) Young; Carleton College, B.L., 1892; M.S., 1897; attended the University of Chicago, 1898 and 1902; Columbia University, Ph.D., 1906.

Served as director of John Payson Williston Observatory, head of astronomy department, instructor, and professor at Mt. Holyoke College (1899–1936).

Anne Sewell Young was born in 1871 in Bloomington, Wisconsin, the niece of Charles Augustus Young, professor of astronomy at Princeton University and an early researcher on the sun's corona. Attending Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, she earned a bachelor's degree in 1892 and a master's degree in 1897. During her years of graduate work, Young taught mathematics at Whitman College, in Walla Walla, Washington, from 1892 to 1895, and worked as a high school principal until 1899. She took classes at the University of Chicago in 1898 and 1902 and eventually received her Ph.D. from Columbia University, in New York City, in 1906. In her dissertation, published as Rutherford Photographs of the Stellar Clusters h or x Persei, she assessed measurements of early photographs and was able to double the number of clusters of stars in the constellation Perseus.

In 1899, Young began a long and successful career at Mt. Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, initially as an instructor and later as a professor. While there, she was appointed director of the John Payson Williston Observatory, where she supervised an active program of observations, keeping a daily record of sunspots which eventually developed into an international research project. Young was keenly interested in observing variable stars (any star for which the energy output varies). She exchanged information on this subject with Harvard College Observatory director Edward Pickering. While at Mt. Holyoke, Young also hosted a series of open nights at the observatory. In order to observe the total eclipse of the sun in 1925, she arranged for the entire student body to travel by train to central Connecticut.

Young was a member of several academic societies, including the Royal Astronomical Society, the American Astronomical Society, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Phi Beta Kappa honorary society. In 1923, she was elected president of the American Association of Variable Star Observers. In addition to publishing numerous professional papers and newspaper articles, Young also wrote a monthly column on astronomy for the Springfield Republican.

After 37 years at Mt. Holyoke, Young retired in 1936 as professor emerita and moved to California with her sister, Elizabeth . They lived in a settlement called Pilgrim Place in Claremont, designed for the elderly relatives of missionaries. Anne Sewell Young died there in 1961.


Notable Women Scientists. Detroit, MI: The Gale Group, 2000.

Ogilvie, Marilyn Bailey. Women in Science. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge Press, 1993.

Susan Wessling , freelance writer, Worcester, Massachusetts

About this article

Young, Anne Sewell (1871–1961)

Updated About content Print Article