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Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Oral History Program, Women Scientists and Engineers Oral History Collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MC-0086

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The collection contains edited transcripts of life history (through 1976/1977) interviews conducted by Shirlee Sherkow of the MIT Oral History Program with nine women scientists and engineers.

The interviews explored the women's early home environments, school and research experiences, roles as spouses and parents, and views on problems confronting women scientists and engineers in the workplace.

Interviewees were: Mildred Spiewak Dresselhaus, electrical engineer and solid state physicist, Professor of electrical engineering (MIT) and director of MIT's Center for Materials Science and Engineering.

Ellen Jane Henderson, biochemist, assistant professor of chemistry (MIT).

Christina Huk Jansen, SB 1963 in electrical engineering (MIT), SM 1966 in metallurgical engineering (MIT), PhD 1971 in physical metallurgy (MIT), metallurgist and engineer.

Christine Jones, astronomer.

Vera Kistiakowsky, physicist, Professor of physics (MIT).

Nancy J. Kopell, mathematician, C.L.E. Moore Instructor of Mathematics (MIT, 1967-1969).

Lisa A. Steiner, biologist, Professor of biology (MIT).

Giuliana Cavaglieri Tesoro (1921-2002) was an organic chemist, was a visiting professor and adjunct professor in the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering from 1972 to 1982 (MIT).

Sheila Evans Widnall, SB 1961, SM 1961, ScD 1964 in aeronautical engineering (MIT), aeronautical and astronautical engineer, professor of aeronautics and astronautics (MIT).

Marilynn Bever, MIT class of 1976, conducted interviews with five women graduates of MIT in the classes of 1934, 1935, and 1937 as research for her S.B. thesis "The Women of M.I.T, 1871-1941: Who They Were, What They Achieved". Charles Weiner, the director of the MIT Oral History Program, was her thesis supervisor. Audio recordings of the five interviews were deposited into the MIT Oral History Program as a supplement to the Women Scientists and Engineers collection. Pages 73-89 of the Bever thesis, volume 1, relate to the interviews.

As additional background the collection also contains biographies, bibliographies, publications, and audiorecordings of public events and lectures which took place in 1976 about issues of women scientists and engineers.


  • Creation: 1976 - 1977


Access note

Transcripts in boxes 1-3 are open for research, as is material in box 4 and 17. Original audio recordings and original transcripts with edit notes (boxes 5-14) are closed per donor agreements.

Digital Access Note

Some parts of this collection are available online. Links to specific online digital items are found within their entry in this finding aid.

Conditions Governing Use

Access to collections in the Department of Distinctive Collections is not authorization to publish. Please see the MIT Libraries Permissions Policy for permission information. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection or MIT.

Historical note

The Women Scientists and Engineers oral history interviews were conducted as part of the larger MIT Oral History Program in the School of Humanities and Social Science. The goal was to examine women's motivations for pursuing careers in science and engineering. The interviews were conducted in 1976 and 1977.


4 Cubic Feet (11 manuscript boxes and 6 cassette boxes)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

Materials are stored off-site. Advance notice is required for use.

Source of Acquisition

Materials were given to the Department of Distinctive Collections (formerly the Institute Archives and Special Collections) in 1978 and 1981 by Charles Weiner, director of the MIT Oral History Program.

Related Materials

The Women of M.I.T., 1871-1941: Who They Were, What They Achieved, by Marilynn A. Bever. Thesis, 1976, S.B. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Humanities.

Processing Information note

Some collection descriptions are based on legacy data and may be incomplete or contain inaccuracies. Description may change pending verification. Please contact the MIT Department of Distinctive Collections if you notice any errors or discrepancies.

Guide to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Oral History Program, Women Scientists and Engineers Oral History Collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
Building 14N-118
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge MA 02139-4307 US