She Was One Of The Very First Female Chemists In America, And She Was Also The Very First Woman To Be Accepted Into MIT

That same year, she was proposed to by Robert H. Richards, an instructor at MIT’s mineralogy department. Ellen waited two years before accepting his proposal, as she didn’t want marriage to get in the way of work. However, they were finally married in 1875.

Without getting paid, Ellen taught chemistry at MIT between 1873-1878 and raised money to open the Women’s Laboratory there. Her work and efforts were so impressive that MIT finally hired her as an instructor in sanitary chemistry in 1884.

Ellen made tremendous discoveries when she studied pollution in Massachusetts’ drinking water. As a result of her research and findings, the first modern sewage treatment plant was built in Massachusetts.

Ellen wanted to educate women and homemakers on how to use clean water and keep their homes safe from disease, as she acknowledged that women who were trying to make a home were some of the hardest unpaid workers out there.

She wrote books about home economics to help homemakers cook and clean in healthier and sanitary ways. In 1890, she opened the New England Kitchen of Boston, where alongside others studied nutrition and cooking.

During her later years, Ellen founded and served as the president of the American Home Economics Association. She advocated for more accessible access to information and education for women.

In 1910 Ellen was awarded an honorary Ph.D. from Smith College before passing away one year later from heart complications at 68. Her hard work and determination to educate herself and other women in the world at a time when that was very hard to do is very admirable.

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