Note from MK: 2020 was a challenging year for archives worldwide and the MVZ Archives was no exception. Our new Spring 2020 apprentice Cheyenne Bridge, a freshman, had just started to familiarize herself with the physical collections and routines of the MVZ when we had strict campus, county, and then state shelter-in-place orders. Nonetheless she agreed to continue some of the work remotely, ultimately helping shape the 150Women celebration research for the Berkeley Natural History Museums. We will update this post with links as these profiles become public.
From URAP Cheyenne Bridge, Chemical Biology and Marine Science major:
Given that my apprenticeship in the archives occurred during the virus, my time with the MVZ was unique. While I wasn’t able to be present in the museum for a portion of my internship, I was a part of a project about 150 Years of Women at Berkeley. In particular, I studied the lives and contributions of Women in the Natural Science fields who had a tie to Berkeley, and the stories I read about certainly put an end to the quarantine boredom. Not only are the women I read about incredibly influential in their respective fields, they are also daring, adventurous, compassionate, and truly pushed the bounds in their personal and professional lives.
My favorite glimpses into these womens’ lives include Ynés Enriquetta Julietta Mexía, an intrepid collector who continued her specimen collecting journey up the Amazon river after falling off a cliff. As well as Lester Rowntree ,who realized she wasn’t one for married life so she traveled up and down the coast of California surviving on 10 cents a day. And one cannot go without mentioning Sister Monica Ashman, who was an entomologist and couldn’t give up her beloved mosquito colony so she raised them in the convent; later she gained her infamy after she was featured in the New York Times under the headline, “University of California hires Catholic sister to sterilize males”, referring to her work with male mosquitos. And finally, Annie Alexander, who founded and helped fund the MVZ and UCMP, and went on daring species collecting expeditions including one where she was trapped for weeks. These are just a few of the numerous amazing anecdotes I read about these amazing women., These women and their stories deserved to be shared; they have an enduring impact on the world and I am so glad I got the chance to know them, and hopefully more people will continue to learn of their invaluable contributions.