BURIED TOGETHER

Partner Mary L. Hall

Queer Places:
40 Rutland Square, Boston, MA 02118
Mount Auburn Cemetery Cambridge, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA

photo of Lucretia CrockerLucretia Crocker (31 December 1829 – 9 October 1886) was an American science educator.[1]

Although there is not much information available about Lucretia Crocker's childhood, we know that her family has long standing roots in New England. Researchers claim that her ancestors settled in the "Old Common Wealth" which is better known now as the state of Massachusetts.[2] Crocker was born on the 31st of December in 1829, daughter of county sheriff and businessman Henry Crocker and Lydia E. Ferris in Barnstable, Massachusetts. Crocker had ancestors that had settled in the old Commonwealth.[3] Throughout her adolescence she attended Boston public schools[4]. Her family moved to Shawmut Avenue in Boston, were she attended the Normal School for Girls. The school system was established in Lexington, Mass in 1839.[3] She then went on to graduate from the Massachusetts State Normal School in West Newton in 1850. Crocker graduating in 1850 indicates that she likely began her schooling at Massachusetts State Normal School in 1847 or 1848.[3] She attended lectures by J. L. R. Agassiz at Harvard, although at the time women could only attend Harvard as guests. Crocker was progressive in her views on education as she promoted science and valued it as useful knowledge.[5]

She taught at the State Normal School from 1850 to 1854 when she fell ill and resigned. After leaving Massachusetts she continued her teaching career in Ohio where she started a job as an educator,[4] from 1857 to 1859 she was professor of mathematics and astronomy at Antioch College.

The State Normal school in West Newton moved to Framingham M.A. in 1853. It is presently known as Framingham State College, and includes Crocker Hall, a building name in Lucretia Crocker's memory. The construction of this addition began in 1886, the year she died.[4]

In 1859 she returned to Boston to care for her parents, and become involved in educational activities there at the Newbury Street School.[4] From 1865 for some years she assisted in selecting the American Unitarian Association's Sunday School books. From 1866 to 1875 she was a member of the New England Freedman's Aid Society's Committee on Teaching.[6]

In 1869 she toured the freedmen's schools. She was also teaching botany and mathematics in a private school at around this time.

In 1873 she and three others, Abby W. May, Lucretia Peabody Hale and Kate Gannett Wells, became some of the first women elected to office in the United States when they won seats on Boston's School Committee. The panel refused to seat them, but in 1874 the state legislature passed a law allowing women to serve, and Crocker and several other women won seats in the following election. From 1873 to about 1876 she was head of the science department of the Society to Encourage Studies at Home, serving on the board of school supervisors from 1876 to 1886.[6]

Throughout her life, Lucretia Crocker achieved various accomplishments as one of the first well known female educators in the United States. She was also the first woman elected into the Boston School Committee,[7] and was the first female supervisor in the Boston Public Schools District.[7] Additionally, she was an associate member of the Boston Society of Natural History.[4] She was most well known for her teachings of mathematics and natural science. [7] Around this time her and her friend, Mary L. Hall, co-authored her first book Our World (1864). This is the only instance I have found about Hall, even if Hall and Crocker are now buried together.[4] Crocker founded the Women's Education Association in 1872. [4] From 1873-1876 she served as the Head of the Science Department of The Society to Encourage Studies at Home. This was also known as The Silent University. [4] In addition she was also appointed as a member of the committee on Teacher's for the New England. [4] In 1880 Crocker was elected to the America Association of Science. [4] Crocker served the disabled as a member of the executive committee for the Boston School for Deaf Mutes. [4] Later in life (1883), she wrote another book, Methods of Teaching Geography.[4]

Although she was not directly connected with the Rogers Building, known as "Tech on Boylston Street" from 1886 to 1916, Ellen Swallow Richards (1842-1911) holds an important role in the history of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. When she was admitted a a special student in chemistry in 1870, she became the first woman to study at MIT. She was awarded a B. S. degree three years later, but the doctorate for which site was qualified was refused her, it is believed, because the school did not want a woman to receive the first doctorate in chemistry. Richards, who pioneered the field of sanitary engineering and home economics, established a Woman's Laboratory at MIT in 1875 with funding from the Woman's Education Association. When her students were admitted to regular courses at MIT, Richards closed the laboratory and, aided by Ednah Dow Cheney (1824-1904), Lucretia Crocker, and Abby W. May (1829–1888), established a parlor and reading room for women students in a new MIT building. It was dedicated to the memory of Cheney's daughter Margaret, a student at MIT who would have been the second woman graduate had she not died of typhoid fever in 1882. In that year, four women received regular degrees. Richards continued to be connected with MIT as an instructor and laboratory scientist in sanitary chemistry and engineering, and in connection with her pioneering studies of air, water and food, is said to have coined the word "ecology."

Crocker died on the 9th of October 1886 in Boston. Her home is featured on the Boston Women's Heritage Trail.[4]


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