Museum logo

Archive Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Creator Gerry, Eloise, b. 1885
Title Eloise Gerry scrapbook.
Dates of Creation 1929-1972.
Physical Description 1 flat archives box.
Language of Material English
Scope & Content Scrapbook kept by Eloise Gerry, a pioneering female scientist in the field of forest products research, who was a longtime employee at the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wis. The scrapbook contains mostly newspaper clippings, primarily 1940-1945, as well as a selection of invitations, personalized announcements, ephemera, postcards, University of Wisconsin faculty meeting minutes, three photographs, and several small booklets. The items cover a wide variety of topics, including Gerry's social life and friendships, her club memberships and activities, University of Wisconsin events, University of Wisconsin faculty, the arts, noteworthy national figures (Helen Keller, Georgia O'Keefe), and general Madison and national news items, including many stories relevant to the World War II homefront. The postcards include several views of the University of Wisconsin campus, as well as a series of souvenir postcards from Cave of the Mounds in Blue Mounds, Wis. The booklets include "Goin' Places in Madison and Southern Wisconsin," a local tourist guidebook from 1941, and a pocket guide to OEEC (The Organization for European Economic Cooperation), a group that encouraged free trade among European countries to help with economic recovery in the post-World War II period. Of note among the ephemeral items is a song sheet for the Madison Business and Professional Women's Club with patriotically-themed lyrics substituted for traditional lyrics.
Admin/Biographical History Eloise Gerry was born in 1885 in Boston, Mass. She acquired both her bachelor's and master's degrees in botany from Harvard's Radcliffe College for Women where she specialized in the physiology of wood and trees. She took a fellowship at Smith College, but was soon offered a position at the U.S. Forest Service's Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wis. Gerry accepted the wood microscopist position and became the first woman appointed to the professional staff of the laboratory. She was also one of the first women in the United States to specialize in forest products research.

Although Forest Products Laboratory initially did not want to hire a woman, they did so for two noteworthy reasons. Firstly, Gerry was highly recommended by her peers and instructors at Harvard. Secondly, she had the exact training they were looking for, which included precise cutting of hardwood tissue samples to show the distribution and appearance of wood cells. Her first project was to collect wood samples from around the United States and to prepare microtome sections and photomicrographs of all the native species. The data she amassed proved useful in wide areas of wood utilization, including analysis of the relationships among wood properties, tree growth, conditions, and preservation treatments for aircraft fabrication. She also investigated how moisture moves through wood, which resulted in a publication on tyloses. Her research in this area led her to investigate where oleoresin was produced in southern yellow pines, which she did in the field, rather than in the lab. This research was interrupted by World War I and projects more pertinent to matters of national defense. After the war, Gerry returned to this research, and earned a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin. Her dissertation was titled "Oleoresin Production: A Microscopic Study of the Effects Produced on Woody Tissues of Southern Pines by Different Methods of Turpentining." In later years, she worked on understanding properties of foreign woods, eventualy becoming an international expert on the subject.

Gerry was a member of such national organizations as Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Delta Epsilon, Sigma Xi, the American Chemical Society, American Association of University Women, American Forestry Association, Society of American Foresters, National League of American Pen Women, Forest History Society, International Association of Wood Anatomists. She was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She was also very active in Madison area groups like the Forestettes, the Madison Colony of New England Women, the P.E.O. Sisterhood, Altrusa, the Dane County Humane Society, Wisconsin Women's Legislative Council, the Badger Kennel Club, the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, and several garden clubs. She created a miniature woodland in the yard of her home in Shorewood Hills, teeming with wildflowers. She shared that home with her beloved dogs and treasured collection of books, which included a large collection of Wisconsin authors. She was active with friends, social groups, and clubs into her retirement. She died in December 1970.
Archival History Transferred from the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, April 2, 1990. 1990.012
People Gerry, Eloise, b. 1885
Subjects Clubs
News & news events
Universities & colleges
Places1 Madison (Wis.)
Places2 Shorewood Hills (Wis.)
Institutions1 University of Wisconsin
Institutions2 Madison Business and Professional Women's Club (Madison, Wis.)
Institutions3 Cave of the Mounds
Object Name Scrapbooks
Call Number ARM 90-02
Catalog ID Number 1990.012.0001