Women in History – 16 April

Marie Maynard Daly (April 16, 1921 – October 28, 2003) was an American biochemist.

She was the first Black American woman in the United States to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry from Columbia University in 1947.

Her father, Ivan C. Daly, attended Cornell University with intentions of becoming a chemist, but had been unable to complete his education due to a lack of funds. His daughter continued her father’s legacy by majoring in chemistry.

She graduated in chemistry from New York’s Queens College in 1942. She was named a Queens College Scholar, an honor that is given to the top 2.5% of the graduating class and received a graduate fellowship to attend New York University where she completed her master’s degree in 1943. She earned her Ph.D. in chemistry from Columbia University in 1947.

Daly worked as a physical science instructor at Howard University from 1947 to 1948 while simultaneously conducting research. After being awarded an American Cancer Society grant to support her postdoctoral research, she went to the Rockefeller Institute, where they studied the cell nucleus. Daly studied the nuclei of tissues to determine the base compositions of the deoxypentose nucleic acids. In 1953, after Watson and Crick described the structure of DNA, her work flourished in the new environment.

Daly began working in the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in 1955 where she studied the effects that aging, hypertension and atherosclerosis had on the metabolism of arterial wall. She continued this work as an assistant professor of biochemistry and of medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University in 1960.

She enjoyed teaching medical students and was dedicated to increasing the number of minority students enrolled in medical schools. In 1971 she was promoted to associate professor.

Daly also served as an investigator for the American Heart Association. She was a member of the prestigious board of governors of the New York Academy of Sciences for two years. Daly also received fellowships from the American Cancer Society, American Association for the Advancement of Science, New York Academy of Sciences, and Council on Arteriosclerosis of the American Heart Association. She was designated as a career scientist by the Health Research Council of the City of New York.

Daly retired in 1986 from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and in 1988 established a scholarship for African American chemistry and physics majors at Queens College in memory of her father.

Anne-Marie “Marie” Tussaud (1 December 1761 – 16 April 1850) was a French artist, who became known for her wax sculptures and Madame Tussauds, the wax museum that she founded in London.

Marie Tussaud was born in Strasbourg, France. Her father was killed just two months before she was born. Her mother worked as a housekeeper for Dr. Philippe Curtius (1741–1794), a physician and wax sculptor in Bern.

It was Curtius, then in Paris, who taught Tussaud the art of wax modeling. She showed talent for the technique and began working for him as an artist. In 1777, she created her first wax figure, that of Voltaire. From 1780 until the Revolution in 1789, Tussaud created many of her most famous portraits of celebrities such as Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin.

French Revolution

Tussaud became involved in the French Revolution and met many of its important figures including Napoleon Bonaparte and Robespierre.

She was arrested during the Reign of Terror and was prepared to be executed by guillotine. However, thanks to Collot d’Herbois’ support for Curtius and his household, she was released.

When Curtius died in 1794, he left his collection of wax works to Tussaud. In 1795, she married François Tussaud. The couple had two children, Joseph and François.

Great Britain

In 1802, Tussaud went to London with her son Joseph, then four years old, to present her collection. As a result of the Napoleonic Wars, Tussaud was unable to return to France so she traveled with her collection throughout the British Isles. In 1835, she established her first permanent exhibition in Baker Street.

In 1842, she made a self-portrait which is now on display at the entrance of her museum. Some of the sculptures done by Tussaud herself still exist.

She died in her sleep in London on 16 April 1850 at the age of 88.

Madame Tussaud’s wax museum has now grown to become one of the major tourist attractions in London, and has expanded with branches in Amsterdam, Bangkok, Sydney, Madame Tussauds Hong Kong (Victoria Peak), Las Vegas, Shanghai, Berlin, Washington D.C., New York City, Orlando, Hollywood and Singapore.