Women of Interest – Harriet Brooks

Harriet Brooks was born on July 2, 1876, in Exeter, Ontario, and she passed on April 17, 1933, in Montreal, Quebec. Brooks is credited with being Canada’s first nuclear physicist and is a member of the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame. In 1901 she was the first woman to obtain a Master’s Degree from McGill University in Montreal. Early in her career, Brooks worked briefly with two-time Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Marie Curie. In 1904 Brooks moved to New York City and obtained a position as tutor in the Physics Department, where she became engaged to another physicist. At that time, if women married, they were forced to resign their position. Because of this, Brooks broke off her engagement, but did marry at a later date and stayed home to raise her three children. Harriet Brook’s obituary, as recorded in the New York Times, credited her as the “Discoverer of the Recoil of a Radioactive Atom.” Harriet Brooks, along with Marie Curie, were recognized as being leading women in the field of nuclear physics.

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