The Annie Jump Cannon house historical marker dedication ceremony was held on April 8 at 34 South State Street in Dover, Delaware. The historical marker was to commemorate the life and childhood home of the renowned astronomer and Wesley graduate, Annie Jump Cannon (1863-1941).
More than 70 people gathered to celebrate the unveiling of the marker and learn more about the Delaware native and famous pioneer in science. Cannon is widely recognized as an important figure in astronomy developing a classification system still in place today.
The marker was suggested by Charles A. Salkin, retired director of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Division of Parks and Recreation and was sponsored by Representative Sean Lynn and Senator Brian Bushweller. Deputy Director of the Delaware Public Archives Sarah Denison helped spearhead the project working with a committee of Wesley and community members.
“Annie Jump Cannon was a remarkable woman, unafraid to push conventional norms and be one of the first women in Delaware to attend college at Wilmington Conference Academy, now Wesley,” said Salkin. “Her determination to learn and achieve as well as showcase her knowledge led to a new classification system for stars and a legacy of impressive discoveries.”
A brief presentation included remarks from Wesley College President Robert E. Clark II; Salkin; Delaware House of Representatives Harvey Kenton; Wesley Dean of Students Wanda Anderson; great-niece of Annie Jump Cannon, Judy Edelkind; former Wesley administrator and faculty Dr. Thomas Sturgis; Denison, and Wesley College student Valerie Shorter who was the primary author of the marker text.
The Annie Jump Cannon historical marker read: “Annie Jump Cannon (1863-1941), a prominent astronomer who pioneered stellar classification, observed her first stars from the roof of this house. Cannon, who was legally deaf, graduated valedictorian from Wilmington Conference Academy, now Wesley College, in 1880. She continued her studies at Wellesley College and Radcliffe Women’s College at Harvard. While working at the Harvard Observatory, Cannon developed the Star Spectra system, classifying over 300,000 stars based on color and temperature. She was the first woman to receive an honorary doctorate from Oxford University and her long career paved the way for women in science.”
A reception at the former home of Annie Jump Cannon followed the dedication and featured additional information about the famous astronomer.
Pictured (left to right); Salkin, Edelkind, Shorter, Ruth Ann Clark and President Clark. For additional photos of the event visit Wesley’s flickr page.