Woman of the Century/Rachel L Bodley

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BODLEY, Miss Rachel L., scientist and doctor of medicine, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, 7th December, 1831. Her parents were Anthony RACHEL L. BODLEY.jpgRACHEL L. BODLEY. R. and Rebecca W. Talbot Bodley, who settled in Cincinnati in 1817. Her paternal ancestry was Scotch-Irish. The American head of the family, Thomas Bodley, came from the north of Ireland early in the eighteenth century. His wife was Eliza Knox, of Edinburgh, Scotland. Her maternal ancestry runs back to John Talbot, an English Friend, who settled in Virginia Rachel was the oldest daughter and the third child in a family of five. Her mother taught a private school, in which Rachel studied until she was twelve years old. She entered the Wesleyan Female College in Cincinnati in 1844, only two years after the opening of that institution, which was the first chartered college for women in the world. She was graduated in 1849, and in 1860 she was made preceptress in the higher collegiate studies. Dissatisfied with her own attainments, she went to Philadelphia, Pa., and entered the Polytechnic College as a special student in physics and chemistry. After two years of study she returned to Cincinnati and was made professor of natural sciences in the Cincinnati Female Seminary, which chair she filled for three years. While there she distinguished herself by classifying the extensive collection of specimens in natural history bequeathed to the seminary by Joseph Clark. Her work on that collection is crystallized in a catalogue that was recognized by Asa Gray, the eminent botanist, as a valuable contribution to science. In 1867 and 1868 she gave a series of important lectures on enptoganii his plants of land and sea. In 1865 she was elected to the chair of chemistry and toxicology in the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, being the first woman professor of chemistry on record. In 1874 she was elected dean of the faculty, and she held both of those positions until her death. She was called to the deanship while the college building was being erected. Among her many achievements was the collection of facts in reference to the success of the graduates of the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania in their professional work. That work was entitled "The College Story." The graduates were at that time practicing in Utah, Manitoba, India, China and European lands, and in every state in the Union. Their replies to the questions she sent them showed an unbroken line of success. Dr. Bodley received many honors in recognition of her contributions to science and literature. In 1864 she was made corresponding member of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. In 1871 she was elected a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, and in that year the degree of A. M. was conferred upon her by her alma mater in Cincinnati. That college, up to that time, had never given a degree to any of its alumna? subsequent to the degree of A. B. at graduation. Dr. Bodley was one of the first three to receive that honor. In 1873 she was elected corresponding member of the Cincinnati Society of Natural History. In 1876 she was elected a corresponding member of the New York Academy of Sciences and a member of the American Chemical Society of New York. She was elected first vice-president of the meeting called in 1874 to celebrate the centennial of chemistry, the month of August in that year being the date chosen in honor of the discovery of oxygen by Dr. Joseph Priestly in 1774. At Dr. Bodley’s suggestion the meeting was held in Northumberland, where Dr. Priestly is buried. In 1879 the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania conferred upon her the honorary degree of M. D. In 1880 she was made a member of the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia, and she delivered a course of lectures on "Household Chemistry" in the regular course of the Institute. In 1882 she was chosen a member of the Educational Society of Philadelphia, and in the same year was elected school director of the twenty-ninth school section, in which office she served until 1885. She was again elected to that position, and served until she died, 15th June, 1888.