Capturing the Stars

Women’s Networks and the Advancement of Science at Yerkes Observatory, 1895-1940

Richard G. Kron, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics; and the College, University of Chicago
Kristine Palmieri, Postdoctoral researcher, Institute on the Formation of Knowledge, University of Chicago
Andrea Twiss-Brooks, Director of Humanities and Area Studies, University of Chicago Library

With support from the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society.


The Capturing the Stars Research Group at the University of Chicago brings together faculty, students, and staff from departments in the Physical Sciences Division, the University of Chicago Library, and the Department of History to study the scientific and historical legacy of Yerkes Observatory.

Growing out of a broad interest in the material, intellectual, and social transformations of astronomy and astrophysics at the beginning of the twentieth century, Capturing the Stars encompasses several interlocking projects united by thematic issues in the history of knowledge-making practices across time and space. These include the Yerkes Glass Plates initiative, which focuses on digitizing and preserving the Observatory’s extensive collection of glass plates and associated logbooks and making those materials available to present-day scientific researchers, and the Women at Yerkes initiative, which reconstructs the scientific work and lived experiences of the significant cohort of women astronomers, calculators, and other researchers who worked at Yerkes during the early twentieth century.

1921, Einstein visit to Yerkes Observatory, Women emphasized

Lauren Boegen/Yerkes Observatory. Digital edit highlighting women researchers in portrait of Yerkes Observatory staff with Albert Einstein, 1921.

Learn more about the project at Yerkes Glass Plates Collection.
Read about funding awards at Women Capturing the Stars.
View the University of Chicago Library’s exhibit Capturing the Stars: The Untold History of Women at Yerkes Observatory.
The exhibit was featured by the city’s official tourism organization, Choose Chicago.
The exhibit was profiled by Lincoln Road Enterprises.
Watch a conversation with University of Chicago Alumni Career Programs and the UChicago Space Network.
The exhibit was profiled by Yahoo! Finance.
View a photo essay in Physics Today.
Read profiles of the project by Capturing the Stars Research Group member Kristine Palmieri in the American Institute of Physics History Newsletter and Physics Today.
Read a feature on the project in Altas Obscura.
Icon photograph from Yerkes Observatory Buildings, Instruments, Equipment, Grounds: Photographic Archive: The University of Chicago.