Thursday, August 23, 2007

On August 23, ...

... 1847 (160 years ago today), Sarah Frances Whiting (left) was born in Wyoming, New York. Daughter of a physics teacher, she developed a passion for science early in life. In 1876 she became the 1st Professor of Physics at Wellesley College, a new institution of higher education for women in Massachusetts. Based on what she learned by auditing classes at Harvard that otherwise were closed to women, Whiting assembled a top-rate laboratory at Wellesley; she also built the astronomy observatory at the college, from which she retired in 1912. Whiting was a "foremother of American women physicists," as 1 article put it.
... 1927 (80 years ago today), following years of litigation challenging their convictions for a 1920 double murder, Nicola Sacco, Bartolomeo Vanzetti, and Celestino Madeiros died by execution in Massachusetts' electric chair. The case of Sacco and Vanzetti, anarchists of Italian origin, had become an international cause célèbre, and their execution sparked protests as near as Boston and New York, as far away as Buenos Aires and beyond.

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