Some Important Contributions:
"Sarah Whiting established the departments of physics and astronomy at Wellesley College;
She probably was the first person to introduce laboratory experiments for women."
See: L. S. McDowell, "Physics at Wellesley", The American Physics Teacher,
4: 57 (1936).
" Her wide ranging
interests, from electric lights to X-ray, the weather and astronomy,
led her to the singular distinction of having made the first X-ray
pictures in America." [nwps1997bfs]
She taught these
subjects to women using demonstrations of her own design and construction
with rigor and timely content. In 1895, after Roentgen's discovery of x-rays, she
began incorporating this subject into her courses.
Whiting built a weather station where her students served as volunteer
for the U.S. Weather Bureau. She designed an observatory endowed by a
Wellesley trustee that included spectrophotometry equipment. There she
directed student research in stellar and solar spectra.
Sarah Whiting generally published works on teaching methods. [8 MBO]
Daytime and Evening Exercises in Astronomy for Schools
and Colleges, Boston:Ginn, (1912). [8 MBO]
1883 Member, American Association for the Advancement of
Science (AAAS) [7 MWR1]
1905 Honorary doctorate, Tufts College [9D NAW]
1876-1912 Professor of Physics, Wellesley College [8 MBO]
1900-1916 Director, Whitin Observatory, Wellesley College [8
1916-1927 Professor Emerita, Wellesley College
AB Ingham College 1865 [7 MWR1] [8 MBO]
[7 MWR1], [8 MBO], [9D NAW], [12 GKS], [51 MJB],
[20A JG], [nwps1997bfs]
In 1876, Whiting was appointed Professor of Physics at
Wellesley and given two years to study
instructional methods in physics and prepare to establish a physics department.
She visited MIT where the first
undergraduate physics laboratory had been established. Whiting used
what she saw there to establish a similar laboratory at Wellesley College.
This may have been the second undergraduate teaching laboratory in America.
Later at the Harvard College Observatory she studied
some of the then new applications of physics to astronomy,
and introduced astronomy courses at WellesleyCollege
For two decades she taught astronomy with only a celestial
globe and a 4-inch portable telescope; then a
Wellesley trustee by the name of Mrs. John C. Whitin enabled the building of
a much needed observatory. The Whitin
Observatory was built in 1900 and enlarged in 1906.
She wrote an account of the history of physics in Wellesley:"History of the Physics Department of Wellesley College from
1878 to 1912," (typewritten paper), Wellesley College Archives,
Wellesley, MA [12 GKS]
Sarah Whiting supported prohibition.[7 MWR1]