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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Ethaline H. Cortelyou

Junior Chemist; Information DivisionChicago, IL

Manhattan Project VeteranProject Worker/StaffWoman Scientist

Ethaline Hartge Cortelyou was a junior chemist at the University of Chicago’s Metallurgical Laboratory (“Met Lab”) during the Manhattan Project.

In 1932, Cortelyou received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Alfred College in New York. Cortelyou also worked as a technical editor in the information division. At the Met Lab, she assisted in preparing the classified table of isotopes. Cortelyou was one of ten women scientists to sign the Szilard Petition, a petition aimed at preventing the United States from dropping the atomic bomb on Japan.

Later Years

After World War II, she continued to do technical writing and editing in scientific literature. In 1958 and from 1965 to the spring of 1969, Cortelyou served as the editor for Chemical Literature (later renamed Chemical Information Bulletin in 1975. Cortelyou was a strong proponent of women in science, and throughout her career, she questioned the gender gaps within the scientific industry.

In her June 1958 article for the Chemical Bulletin, “Utilizing chemical Womanpower to Combat the Alleged Shortage of Chemists,” Cortelyou challenged the funneling of women into the technical editing rather than chemistry itself. During the summer of 1958, she continued to demand change with the scientific community and repeatedly stated that ‘brains have no sex.’

During her speech at the December 1958 All Women in Science Luncheon, Cortelyou promoted the encouraging of female science students in the U.S., challenged universities and colleges for discouraging rather than helping women become scientific and technical workers, and criticized the industry for failing to support working women and mothers.

To help women return to full-time jobs following pregnancy, she recommended companies provide women with part-time education and jobs, which would give them refresher courses or allow them to work from home. Cortelyou also encouraged women to stand together and support one another in the workforce.

She later worked for the Armour Research Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases. In 1958 and from 1965 to the spring of 1969, Cortelyou served as the editor for Chemical Literature (later renamed Chemical Information Bulletin in 1975.

For more information about Ethaline H. Cortelyou, please see the following references:

Ethaline H. Cortelyou's Timeline
1932 Graduated from Alfred College.
1958 Served as the editor of the Chemical Bulletin.
19651969 Served as the editor of the Chemical Bulletin for the second time.

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