Alice Emily Smith

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Alice Emily Smith
Born 18 June 1871
Nationality British
Alma mater University of North Wales, Bangor, Gwynedd
Known for Signatory of the 1904 petition to the Chemical Society.
Scientific career
Fields Chemistry

University College of North Wales, Bangor, Gwynedd

Owens College, Manchester

Professor Kennedy J.P. Orton

William Henry Perkins Jr.

Professor Kennedy J.P. Orton

William Henry Perkins Jr.

Alice Emily Smith (born 18 June 1871) was a British chemist and one of the nineteen signatories of the 1904 petition to the Chemical Society.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Smith was born 18 June 1871, the daughter of Thomas Smith, Commission Agent from County Down, Northern Ireland.[2]

She was educated at Crescent House school in Bedford.[2] She matriculated at the University College of North Wales in 1897 and graduated with a B.Sc (London) in 1901[2] before taking up work as a demonstrator there.

Smith was awarded an 1851 exhibition scholarship[3][2] and chose to use it to conduct research at Owens College, Manchester from 1901 to 1903.[1] Whilst at Owens College, she worked with both William Henry Perkin Jr. and K. J. P. Orton.[4]

Smith's research with Perkins resulted in four important research papers being published on structure determinations and new synthetic routes in organic chemistry between 1902 and 1904.[4][5]


In 1903, Smith returned to the University College of North Wales as an Assistant Lecturer in Organic Chemistry[1] and Assistant Lecturer in Education.[2] During this period, Smith was one of only five women chemists to receive Chemical Society Research Fund grants between 1902-10.[4]

While working at Bangor, she collaborated with Head of Chemistry, Professor Kennedy J.P. Orton, on a study of reaction mechanisms from 1905 to 1908 which resulted in the publishing of five research papers.[1][2] Orton was a strong supporter of the rights of women chemists so may have made Smith aware of the 1904 petition to the Chemical Society.[1]

The 1904 petition to the Chemical Society[edit]

In 1904, Smith, along with eighteen other British women chemists, signed a petition setting out their reasons to the Chemical Society why they should be afforded Fellowship status like their male counterparts. The petition eventually led to the admission of women as Fellows of the Society[6] (one of the Societies that amalgamated to become the Royal Society of Chemistry), as well as identifying prominent female chemists working in Britain at this time.

Later life[edit]

In 1914, Smith gave up her position at University College and took up a new role as lecturer in Science at the Maria Grey Training College in London, the first teachers' training college for women.[2]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Rayner-Canham, Geoff (2003). "Pounding on the Doors: The Fight for Acceptance of British Women Chemists" (PDF). Bull. Hist. Chem. 28 (2): 110–119.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Rayner-Canham, Marelene F.; Rayner-Canham, Geoffrey (2008). Chemistry was Their Life: Pioneering British Women Chemists, 1880-1949. World Scientific. ISBN 9781860949869.
  3. ^ Ogilvie, Marilyn Bailey; Harvey, Joy Dorothy (2000). The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science: L-Z. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9780415920407.
  4. ^ a b c Creese, Mary R. S. (1991). "British Women of the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries Who Contributed to Research in the Chemical Sciences". The British Journal for the History of Science. 24 (3): 275–305. doi:10.2307/4027231. JSTOR 4027231.
  5. ^ Ogilvie, Marilyn; Harvey, Joy (2003-12-16). The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science: Pioneering Lives From Ancient Times to the Mid-20th Century. Routledge. ISBN 9781135963422.
  6. ^ Mason, Joan (1991). "A forty years' war". Chemistry in Britain: 233–238.