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Index of first names

Dr Alice Douglas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

Allie Vibert Douglas, OC MBE (December 15, 1894 – 2 July 1988) was a Canadian astronomer and the first Canadian woman to become an astrophysicist.  Because both of Douglas' parents died the year she was born, she first lived in London, England with her brother, George Vilbert Douglas and her grandmother.  Douglas' grandfather was Rev. George Douglas, a prominent Methodist minister and educator. In 1904 both Douglas and her brother returned to Montreal where they attended Westmount Academy. Growing up, Douglas was interested in science but felt that her gender was a handicap. In high school she was refused admission to a small science club solely based on the fact that she was a woman. Her brother helped her circumvent this issue by leaving the door ajar and letting Allie sit outside the classroom to listen to lectures. Douglas graduated at the top of her class and received a scholarship to McGill University.

In 1912 she began her studies in honors mathematics and physics at McGill, but they were interrupted during her third year with the outbreak of World War I. Her brother George enlisted as an officer and was stationed near London, England. Here, George suggested that Allie and their two aunts, Mina and Mary, move to London with him. Allie was then invited to join the war effort by a family friend and decided to work in the War Office as a statistician. Despite the fact that bombs would fall close to her workplace, Douglas persevered and had the highest pay out of all of the temporary women civil servants in the National Service. In 1918, at the age of 23, she was awarded the Order of the British Empire for her work.

Having returned to Montreal in 1920, she continued her studies, earning a Bachelors degree and then Masters Degree in 1921. Then she went on to Cambridge, studying under Arthur Eddington, one of the leading astronomers of the day. She earned her PhD in astrophysics through McGill in 1925 and was the first person to receive it from a Quebec university, and one of the first woman to accomplish this in North America.

Vibert Douglas remained at McGill for the next 14 years. Then in 1939 she moved to Queen's University where she served as Dean of Women until 1958. She was Professor of Astronomy from 1946 until her retirement in 1964 and was instrumental in having women accepted into engineering and medicine. In 1967 she became an Officer of the Order of Canada. In the same year, the National Council of Jewish Women named her as one of 10 Women of the Century. In 1988, the year of her death, asteroid 3269 was named Vibert Douglas in her honor. She was also a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in Britain and a president of the RASC.

While in Kingston, she was an active member of the Kingston Centre RASC. There was interest in astronomy in the Kingston area long before the Centre was founded in 1961. The Kingston Observatory opened in 1855, the first in Ontario, and astronomy has been taught at Queens since 1863. In the early 1900s Queen's professors and others from the area had become members of the Society. Vibert Douglas was an active member dating back to her Montreal years and became National President in 1943-44. It was largely due to Vibert Douglas' work that the Kingston Centre was formed in 1961, the 16th Centre of the Society.

Vibert Douglas has a crater on Venus named after her. The Vibert Douglas patera is located at 11.6 South latitude 194.3 East longitude. It is almost circular and 45 km in diameter.

 

She died in Kingston in 1988.

 

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