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Jane M. Oppenheimer papers


Held at: Bryn Mawr College [Contact Us]Bryn Mawr College Library, 101 N. Merion Avenue, Bryn Mawr 19010

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Bryn Mawr College. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

A Philadelphia native, Jane M. Oppenheimer attended Bryn Mawr College. She graduated in 1932 with a degree in biology, and subsequently earned a Ph.D. in zoology from Yale. She began instructing biology at Bryn Mawr in 1938, becoming an assistant professor in 1943, an associate professor in 1947, and a professor in 1953. She retired as the Kenan Professor Emeritus of Biology and History of Science at Bryn Mawr in 1980, but returned as a guest lecturer through the 80s.

Oppenheimer's primary research interests were embryology, the history of embryology, the history of science, and the development of central nervous system of fishes. In the 1970s, she designed one of American scientific experiments in the first American-Soviet space collaboration, looking at the effects of weightlessness on the physiology of fish eggs. For this work, she won NASA's Achievement Award and the Soviet Kosmos Award. She was also the recipient of the Wilbur Cross Medal from the Yale Graduate Alumni Association, one of the presidents of the American Society of Zoologists, and an officer in the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

She wrote numerous articles and books, among them "Essays in the History of Embryology and Biology" and "Foundations of Experimental Embryology."

Oppenheimer passed away on March 23rd, 1996.

The Jane M. Oppenheimer papers house the professional papers of Jane Oppenheimer (A.B. '32), Bryn Mawr Biology professor (1953-1980), biologist, and science historian. The collection, which ranges from 1849 to 1981, includes various materials related to NASA experiments and some of Oppenheimer's class materials.

The collection is housed in two boxes. The first box contains a miscellany of material, much of which has to do with NASA experiments. The second box contains reprints.

Box 1 includes an NSF Grant application and award (1964-67); 1967 correspondence with biologist Liselotte Mezger-Freed about the Fundulus fish which Oppenheimer used in her NASA experiments; an NSF Grant (1971-1973); NASA experiment correspondence (1975); NASA annual and final reports (1975-1980); materials related to the NASA Kosmos Project (1975); newspaper clippings; and Oppenheimer's grade books. Box 2 contains various reprints, including a two volume bound set of Oppenheimer's writings (1934-1963).

The 1970s were pivotal for NASA, from the continuation of the Apollo flights to construction of Skylab, the United States' first (and only) independently constructed space station. Although small, this collection provides some intriguing insights into some of NASA's other experiments, namely those that occurred under American-Soviet collaboration. It would be a valuable resource for those interested in NASA's 1970s experiments and the work of Jane Oppenheimer.

Bryn Mawr College
Finding Aid Author
Cassidy Gruber Baruth
Finding Aid Date
2018 April 11
Access Restrictions

Box 1 has some restrictions. Consult with College Archivist before using.

Use Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17)

Collection Inventory

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