Eunice Newton Foote

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Eunice Newton Foote (July 17, 1819, Goshen, Connecticut – September 30, 1888, Lenox, Massachusetts)[1] was an American scientist, inventor, and women's rights campaigner from Seneca Falls, New York, who was an early researcher of the greenhouse effect and a signatory of the Declaration of Sentiments.


As a member of the editorial committee for the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, the first women's rights convention, Foote was one of the signatories of the convention's Declaration of Sentiments. She signed with her husband Elisha and was one of five women who prepared the proceedings for publication.[2]


A column in the Scientific American described in 1856 Eunice Newton Foote's temperature experiments with gases, and found that carbonic acid (carbon dioxide / CO2) caused the greatest warming effect.

Foote conducted early work on the warming effect of the sun on air, including how this was increased by water vapour and carbonic acid gas (carbon dioxide) which was presented by Prof. Joseph Henry at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in 1856. A contemporary account describes the occasion as follows: Prof. Henry then read a paper by Mrs. Eunice Foote, prefacing it with a few words, to the effect that science was of no country and of no sex. The sphere of woman embraces not only the beautiful and the useful, but the true. (Wells, 1857, p. 159-160, cited by Raymond Sorenson.) Foote was the second female member of the AAAS.[2]

Three years later John Tyndall independently, and in significantly more detail, investigated the warming of CO2 by infrared radiation.[3][4] [5]

She also worked on electrical excitation of gases, published in the Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in August 1857,[6][7] and received a patent in 1860 for "filling for soles of boots and shoes".[2]

Personal life[edit]

Eunice was described as "a fine portrait and landscape painter. She was an inventive genius, and a person of unusual beauty."[1] Her father was Isaac Newton Jr., originally of Goshen, Connecticut and later a farmer in East Bloomfield, New York[1][6] and her mother was Thirza.[8] She had six sisters and five brothers.[9] Eunice attended the Troy Female Seminary, later re-named the Emma Willard School, from 1836-1838. There she was influenced by the textbooks of Almira Hart Lincoln Phelps, Emma Willard's sister, who was a female pioneer of women in science, botany expert and third female member of the AAAS.[10]

On August 12, 1841, she married Elisha Foote, a judge, statistician and inventor in East Bloomfield.[1][11] Elisha and Eunice lived in Seneca Falls on North Park Street.[12] They were the parents of Mary Foote Henderson, an artist and writer born July 21, 1842,[13] and Augusta Newton Arnold, born October 1844, a writer who wrote The Sea at Ebb Tide and a trustee of Barnard College. Augusta married Francis B. Arnold on March 6, 1869.[14] Eunice and Elisha had six grandchildren, three by each daughter.[6] They later moved to Saratoga, New York.[1] Elisha died in 1883 and Eunice died five years later, on September 30, 1888.[6]


Circumstances affecting the Heat of the Sun's Rays (1856 by Saratoga Springs, New York)[15]


A symposium about her work, 'Science Knows No Gender: In Search of Eunice Foote Who 162 Years Ago Discovered the Principal Cause of Global Warming' was held May 2018 at University of California Santa Barbara, USA.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Newton Leonard, Ermina. Newton genealogy, genealogical, biographical, historical, being a record of the descendants of Richard Newton of Sudbury and Marlborough, Massachusetts 1638, with genealogies of families descended from the immigrants Rev. Roger Newton of Milford, Connecticut, Thomas Newton of Fairfield, Connecticut. De Pere, Wis. : B.A. Leonard. p. 110. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Wellman, Judith (October 5, 2004). The Road to Seneca Falls: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the First Woman's Rights Convention. University of Illinois Press. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
  3. ^ Sorenson, Raymond (January 11, 2011). "Eunice Foote's Pioneering Research On CO2 And Climate Warming" (PDF). Search and Discovery. AAPG/Datapages, Inc. (70092). Retrieved January 31, 2016.
  4. ^ Foote, Eunice (November 1856). Circumstances affecting the Heat of the Sun's Rays. The American Journal of Science and Arts. 22. pp. 382–383. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
  5. ^ McNeill, Leila (December 5, 2016). "This Lady Scientist Defined the Greenhouse Effect But Didn't Get the Credit, Because Sexism". Smithsonian Magazine.
  6. ^ a b c d Reed, Elizabeth Wagner (1992). "Eunice Newton Foote". American women in science before the civil war. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
  7. ^ Foote, Eunice (1858). "On a new source of electrical excitation". Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. p. 123. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
  8. ^ "Eunice Newton". Rootsweb. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
  9. ^ "Isaac Newton". Rootsweb. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
  10. ^ Emma Willard School Archives / Troy Female Seminary Catalogs Collection, Listed in 1836-37 Catalog
  11. ^ Goodwin, Nathaniel, "The Foote family: or, The descendants of Nathaniel Foote, one of the first ... " Hartford, Press of Case, Tiffany and company, 1849. p. 159
  12. ^ "Foote House, site of ...A NYS Women's History Site". New York State Women's History. New York Cultural Heritage Tourism Network. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
  13. ^ Goodwin, p. 159
  14. ^ John William Leonard; William Frederick Mohr; Frank R. Holmes; Herman Warren Knox; Pinfield Scott Downs, eds. (1907). Who's who in New York City and State, Issue 3. L.R. Hamersly Company. p. 41.
  15. ^ Raymond P. Sorenson (2018). "Eunice Foote's Pioneering Research on CO2 and Climate Warming: Update*". AAPG.
  16. ^ Mitchell, Jeff. "Science Knows No Gender: In Search of Eunice Foote Who 162 Years Ago Discovered the Principal Cause of Global Warming". UC Santa Barbara. Retrieved 13 May 2018.

External links[edit]