Courtesy of Reuther Wayne Edu

372: Anna J Harrison

Chemist and the First Woman Elected President of the American Chemical Society

Born: 23 December 1912, Benton City, Missouri, United States of America

Died: 8 August 1998, Holyoke, Massachusetts, United States of America

Anna was a professor of chemistry at Mount Holyoke College for over thirty years.

As a child, she was tasked by her teacher to go home and ask her parents all about caterpillars—her father being a farmer taught her all about Caterpillar tractors instead. Soon after, Anna’s father died when she was only seven years old. Her mother continued to run the family farm for the next forty years, showing Anna strength in the face of adversity and what it meant to be a career driven woman.

In 1940, Anna earned her PhD in physical chemistry. After retiring from Mount Holyoke, she served as the President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science from 1983 to 1984.

She was known more for her teaching ability than her research and is remembered as a gifted teacher who helped make complicated things easy to understand.