Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 82.djvu/597

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THE word eminent as used in this study covers the range of meaning designated by the Century Dictionary which defines the term as "high in rank, office, worth or public estimation; conspicuous, highly distinguished." According to the same authority, the word is rarely used in a bad sense. Dr. Francis Galton,[1] who made the first statistical study of distinguished men, defined his use of eminent thus:

When I speak of an eminent man, I mean one who has achieved a position that is attained by only 250 persons in each million of men, or by one person in each 4,000.

While my selection is closer, mathematically, than Galton's, among the 868 women whom I have designated as eminent, some are included because of circumstances over which they had no control, such as great beauty, or congenital misfortune. Many were born to their positions; to others is due but little credit for the fact that they married men sufficiently eminent to accord them a place in history. Some led spectacular lives and were notorious rather than meritorious. Many of them were women of unusual intellectual ability and were eminent in the ordinary connotation of the term. More or less biographical data are at command concerning these 868 women, and to the extent that reputation may be considered a just index of ability, they are entitled to a place in a catalogue of the distinguished of earth.

In selecting the group I have followed precisely the objective method devised by Professor J. McKeen Cattell[2] in his "Statistical Study of Eminent Men." My method, in detail, was as follows: I went through the Lippincott Biographical Dictionary, the Americana, Nouveau La Rousse, Brockhaus's Konversations-Lexikon, Meyer's Konversations-Lexikon and the Encyclopædia Britannica and noted the name of every woman mentioned in each. I retained for my list the name of every woman noted in any three out of the six encyclopedias or dictionaries. My original intention was to eliminate from the lower end of the group until I had 1,000, a convenient and sufficiently large number with which to work. But when the twenty-three Biblical characters were excluded, the entire number was only 868. It is a sad commentary on the sex that from the dawn of history to the present day less than one thousand women have accomplished anything that

  1. "Hereditary Genius," p. 10, 1869.
  2. "A Statistical Study of Eminent Men," Pop. Sci. Mo., Vol. 62, p. 359, 1903.