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Born in Oregon 1912, entered Purdue University, 1932, studying solid state physics, teaching assistant work with Lothar Nordheim on crystal structure, 1937; Ph.D. thesis, 1937 (published 1940); physics department under Karl Lark-Horovitz grows in the 1930s, visiting lecturers (refugees from Germany and Europe: Lothar Nordheim, Hans Bethe, Edward Teller, Eugene Wigner). First cyclotron (homemade), 1935. War work: basic research in germanium, rectification of crystals (Bethe), close connections with Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania; Lark-Horovitz chose solid state physics as less sensitive field with respect to clearance; showed silicon-germanium intrinsic semiconductors, 1942; General Electric’s germanium interest; success interpreting resistivity and thermoelectric behavior in germanium, 1944. American Physical Society meeting intense interest in Purdue presentations, January 1946; the transistor, 1948 (William Shockley, Ralph Bray); how to grow germanium crystals, 1949; Esther Conwell’s thesis (Victor Weisskopf). Also prominently mentioned are: John Backus, Seymour Benzer, Hubert Maxwell James, A. A. Knowlton, K. W. Meissner, E. P. Miller, Ronald Smith, Herbert J. Yearian; and Purdue University Department of Physics.
Family background, education, and emergence of scientific orientation. Undergraduate years at Wellesley College (1912-1916); description of physics department. Assistant examiner in U.S. Patent Office during World War I. At MIT under E.B. Wilson as graduate student and laboratory assistant, then lab instructor (1920-24). Returned to MIT for doctoral work in 1928. Mathematical physics thesis under Norbert Wiener, while teaching at Wellesley. Depression years brought teaching position at Wilson College (1930-43), used Wellesley as model. Work on Zeeman Pattern earns her Guggenheim Fellowship (1949-50) at MIT and European labs. World War II years as head of OSRD British Report Section. Returned to Wilson (1945-56), worked part-time at National Science Foundation (1953-56). Retirement years including affiliation with U.S. Army and spectroscopic work at Harvard College Observatory. Comments on women in physics in U.S., her own opportunities, and teaching in general.