Cover image for On her own terms : Annie Montague Alexander and the rise of science in the American West
On her own terms : Annie Montague Alexander and the rise of science in the American West
Stein, Barbara R., 1955-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Berkeley : University of California Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xvii, 380 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1440 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QL31.A555 S74 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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At a time when women could not vote and very few were involved in the world outside the home, Annie Montague Alexander (1867-1950) was an intrepid explorer, amateur naturalist, skilled markswoman, philanthropist, farmer, and founder and patron of two natural history museums at the University of California, Berkeley. Barbara R. Stein presents a luminous portrait of this remarkable woman, a pioneer who helped shape the world of science in California, yet whose name has been little known until now.

Alexander's father founded a Hawaiian sugar empire, and his great wealth afforded his adventurous daughter the opportunity to pursue her many interests. Stein portrays Alexander as a complex, intelligent, woman who--despite her frail appearance--was determined to achieve something with her life. Along with Louise Kellogg, her partner of forty years, Alexander collected thousands of animal, plant, and fossil specimens throughout western North America. Their collections serve as an invaluable record of the flora and fauna that were beginning to disappear as the West succumbed to spiraling population growth, urbanization, and agricultural development. Today at least seventeen taxa are named for Alexander, and several others honor Kellogg, who continued to make field trips after Alexander's death.

Alexander's dealings with scientists and her encouragement--and funding--of women to do field research earned her much admiration, even from those with whom she clashed. Stein's extensive use of archival material, including excerpts from correspondence and diaries, allows us to see Annie Alexander as a keen observer of human nature who loved women and believed in their capabilities. Her legacy endures in the fields of zoology and paleontology and also in the lives of women who seek to follow their own star to the fullest degree possible.

Author Notes

From 1985-2000, Barbara R. Stein was Curatorial Associate and Researcher at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at the University of California, Berkeley

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In this biography of Alexander, one of the first women field explorers and naturalists in the American West, Stein (formerly, Univ. of California at Berkeley) also recounts the story of the growth of paleontological fieldwork and natural history in the first half of the 20th century. Alexander lived a very unusual life for a woman of her time: when most women, either by choice or by social sanctions, were essentially homemakers, she reveled in field research and was excellent at it; she ran her own farm with the help of her friend and partner, Louise Kellogg; and she was both financially and creatively responsible for the founding of two natural history museums at the University of California, Berkeley. Alexander herself, thanks to her father who made a fortune in the Hawaiian sugar industry, had the wealth, intelligence, and above all, the self-confidence to do what she really wanted to do. Accordingly, this well-written, readable, and informative biography is a real contribution to the history of women in science, the emergence of the several disciplines embraced by natural history, and the struggle for self-identity that university museums undergo. Extensive footnotes; nice selection of photographs. All levels. M. H. Chaplin Wellesley College

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. vii
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. xiii
1. Samuel Alexander and Henry Baldwinp. 3
2. Life in Oaklandp. 13
3. A Passion for Paleontologyp. 22
4. Africa, 1904p. 35
5. Meeting C. Hart Merriamp. 48
6. Alaska, 1906p. 58
7. Meeting Joseph Grinnellp. 63
8. Founding a Museum of Vertebrate Zoologyp. 76
9. An Unusual Collaborationp. 88
10. Louise and Prince William Soundp. 97
11. Support for Paleontologyp. 107
12. Hearst, Sather, Floodp. 114
13. Innisfail Ranchp. 120
14. Vancouver Island and the Trinity Alpsp. 138
15. The Team of Alexander and Kelloggp. 148
16. From "A Friend of the University"p. 155
17. Founding a Museum of Paleontologyp. 165
18. A Restless Decadep. 181
19. Europe, 1923p. 190
20. The Temple Tourp. 203
21. The "Amoeba Treatment"p. 214
22. Fieldwork--The Later Yearsp. 224
23. Saline Valleyp. 244
24. The End of an Erap. 253
25. Hawaii--"My Only Real Home"p. 261
26. The Switch to Botanyp. 274
27. Baja California--Tres Mujeres Sin Miedop. 290
28. Investing in the Futurep. 299
29. An Enduring Legacyp. 308
Epiloguep. 315
Appendixp. 317
Notesp. 321
Indexp. 359