Dr. Caroline McGill and the rest of her story

Joan Hart

Joan Hart


Have you ever been to Bozeman, Montana?  If you haven’t, you need to put it on your bucket list and go to the Museum of the Rockies there. It is located  at Montana State University and is a Smithsonian Affiliate, recognized as one of the world’s finest research and history museums. It is renowned for displaying an extensive collection of dinosaur fossils, including a T. rex skeleton! MOR delights visitors with changing exhibits from around the world, permanent indoor and outdoor regional history exhibits, planetarium shows, educational programs, insightful lectures, benefit events, and a museum store. (This information taken from its website.)

It all started back in the early 1900s by a female doctor named Caroline McGill. She was described in the book “Woman Of Distinction” by Mary Redfield Lindsey in this way:  “...a petite sparkling individualist - erudite, Irish wit, courtly manners and earthy frontier folkways all combined in 118 pounds and five feet, one and a half inches of mingled dignity and humor.”

She was indeed a “woman of distinction.” When she was only 17, she received a lifetime teaching certificate to teach grade school. She entered the University of Missouri as a freshman in 1901, and one year later she received a teaching assistantship there in zoology. She continued to teach while pursuing her education, supplementing her teaching salary by chopping wood and doing housekeeping, and living in a little rented room in the attic over the second story of an old house on Eighth Street in Columbia.

In 1904 she received her B.A. degree at MU, followed by her Master of Arts degree one year later. In 1908 at the age of 29 she received her PhD in Anatomy and Physiology with Phi Beta Cappa Key, being the first woman to receive a PhD from MU.

For the complete column, see the Weekend print edition of The Daily Record, or view the e-Edition online.


The Laclede County Record

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