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Trailblazing Geologist

Florence Bascom was highly encouraged to attend college in an era when it wasn't common.

She would become a trailblazing geologist, who, in 1893, was the first woman to earn a doctorate from Johns Hopkins University and, in 1896, became the first woman employed by the United States Geological Survey.

Born in Williamstown on July 14, 1862, she was the daughter of John Bascom, a professor at Williams College and a Greylock Reservation Commission (Bascom Lodge is named for him), and Emma Curtiss Bascom, a women's rights suffragist, educator and activist.

During her time at Johns Hopkins, where she did her thesis on the origin and formation of the Appalachian Mountain range, "she was required to sit behind a screen, lest she disturb the men," according to an article on the university's website.

Nevertheless, she persisted in her field, going on to serve as associate editor of "American Geologist" magazine, teaching at Vassar and Smith colleges, and in 1895, founding the geology department at Bryn Mawr College where she taught for more than three decades. Her most notable work is published on the geological profile of the Mid-Atlantic region.

In addition to distinctions like being named among the top 100 geologists in the U.S. in the 1906 edition of "American Men of Science," a crater, an asteroid and a post-glacial lake have all been named in her honor.

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