Rachel Lloyd (chemist)

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Rachel Lloyd
Rachel Abbie Holloway

(1839-01-26)January 26, 1839
DiedMarch 7, 1900(1900-03-07) (aged 61)
Alma materUniversity of Zurich
Known forSugar Beet Chemistry & Agriculture
First American female Ph.D in Chemistry
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Nebraska
ThesisOn the conversion of some of the homologues of benzol-phenol into primary and secondary amines (1887)
Doctoral advisorA. Viktor Merz
Other academic advisorsCharles F. Mabery
Notable studentsSamuel Avery

Rachel Lloyd (January 26, 1839 – March 7, 1900) was an American chemist best known for her work on the chemistry and agriculture of sugar beets (Beta vulgaris). She studied at the Harvard Summer School before receiving her doctorate from the University of Zurich in 1886, becoming the first American female to earn a doctorate of chemistry and only the second woman in the world to receive a doctorate in her field, after Julia Lermontova.[1]. Lloyd spent many years teaching chemistry and holding other positions at various educational institutions before and after her work in Nebraska. In 1891, she became the first regularly admitted female member of the American Chemical Society. More than a century later, the Society designated her research and professional contributions to chemistry a National Historic Chemical Landmark on October 1, 2014, at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.[2][3]


Early years[edit]

Rachel Abbie Lloyd (née Holloway) was born in Flushing, Ohio to a large Quaker farming family. Both of her parents were teachers until her father became the Post Master in Smyrna, Ohio.[4]She underwent loss at a young age; all three of her siblings died in infancy, her mother died when she was five, and her father died when she was 12. At the age of 13, Holloway began attending Friends School in Flushing, Ohio and continued her education at Westtown School in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Her final year of schooling was completed at Miss Margaret Robinson's School for Young Ladies, where she would also begin teaching. During her time at Robinson's School she met Franklin Lloyd, a chemist with Powers and Weightman.[4] On May 11, 1859, when she was 20 years old, Rachel and Franklin got married. Lloyd noted that Franklin kept a chemical laboratory in their home, which is where her interest in the field originated. The couple had two children: Fannie Lloyd (1860–1860) and William C. Lloyd (1865–1865), both of whom died in infancy, Frannie of "disease of the brain" and William of jaundice[5]. Franklin also died in 1865, shortly after William's death. After her husband's death, Lloyd was left with a substantial sum of money and used it to travel Europe from 1867-1872, seeking medical help for rheumatism and neuralgia.[4]However, financial difficulties forced her to return to the US to look for work [6]. Lloyd supported herself for some time as a science teacher at the Chestnut Street Female Seminary before making the decision to formally pursue her interest in chemistry.[citation needed]


In the summer of 1876, Lloyd began attending courses in botany and chemistry at the Harvard Summer School, where she did research with Charles F. Mabery. She attended Harvard Summer School and continued her research for the next eight years, coauthoring three published papers between the years of 1881-1884[4]. It was in these years that Lloyd met Rachel Bodley, her future colleague in the American Chemical Society, and, in 1880, Hudson Henry Nicholson, her future colleague at the University of Nebraska. During this time, Lloyd continued to teach. In 1883, she helped found the Louisville School of Pharmacy for Women in Kentucky, along with Joseph P. Barnum.[citation needed]

In 1884, Lloyd decided to study at the University of Zurich, which at the time was the only institution where women were permitted to attempt a doctorate in chemistry. Lloyd was awarded her doctorate in 1886, at the age of 48, making her the first American woman to receive a European doctorate.[7] Her dissertation was on the conversion of phenols to aromatic amines under Professor August Viktor Merz.[8] During this time, she also became interested in the emerging sugar beet industry.[9]


Lloyd began teaching immediately after finishing her early education at Miss Margaret Robinson's School for Young Ladies.[4] Her next teaching position would be at the Chestnut Street Female Seminary in 1873 where she taught chemistry following her travels in Europe.[4] During her time as a student Lloyd still held multiple positions at other educational institutions.[4] In 1880 Lloyd held the position of Lady Principal of Foster School for Girls in Clifton Springs, New York.[4] Following this she was an Instructor of Chemistry at both Hampton College for Women and the Louisville School of Pharmacy for Women.[4] Lloyd worked for a small period of time at the Normal School of Science and Royal School of Mines in London before her most notable position in 1887 at the University of Nebraska.[4] In 1894 Lloyd was the Instructor of Science at Hillside Home School in Spring Green, Wisconsin.[4]

University of Nebraska[edit]

In 1887, the University of Nebraska offered Lloyd an appointment as associate professor of analytical chemistry to join the departmental chair, Hudson Henry Nicholson as the second person in the new Chemistry Department. Lloyd encouraged both young men and young women to enroll and during Lloyd's tenure, the Nebraska section of the American Chemical Society had more women participants than any other section.[10] Between 1888 and 1915, 10 of the 46 chemistry students were women.[11]

Following the passage of the Hatch Act of 1887, the University of Nebraska was awarded a grant of $15,000 to create the Nebraska Agricultural Experiment Station.[citation needed] Lloyd's scientific impact was based on her pioneering studies of sugars in sugar beets, using analytical techniques such as the saccharometer. Lloyd's studies made use of test plots of sugar beets in various parts of Nebraska. Her scientific reports on sugar production in sugar beets first appeared in 1890, helping establish the economic viability of sugar beet farming in the latter part of the 19th century, critical to Nebraska farmers.[12] According to Lindblom, production of sugar in Nebraska increased from 736,000 pounds to 8,378,000 pounds in just 5 years.[12] The findings of Lloyd and Nicholson's work resulted in investors opening up the third sugar refinery in the United States in Nebraska. It was also the first refinery in the Midwest. [12]

Lloyd rose to full professor in 1888 and was promoted to the head of the department in 1892 while Nicholson was in Europe. However, that summer, she was afflicted with partial paralysis.[13] She continued to teach until 1894, when she resigned due to ill health. After her death, Acting Chancellor Charles E. Bessey said in a memorial lecture at the University of Nebraska, "She was not only an eminent chemist, she was a great teacher, and more than that, she was the beloved advisor and counselor of students".[9] This is further supported by her involvement in the Camera Club and the Scientific Club, through which she connected with students.[7]

Final Years[edit]

She lived in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area for the last seven years of her life, to be closer to friends and relatives.[12] Lloyd passed on March 7, 1900 due to heart failure and was buried with her husband and children in the Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia.[4]

University of Nebraska Time Capsule[edit]

In May 2014, a time capsule was opened at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. The capsule came from the cornerstone of the building that had previously housed the Chemistry Department and had been planted there in 1916. The capsule had initially been forgotten but was discovered when someone searching for information on Rachel Lloyd discovered a newspaper article about the capsule's burial that had mentioned her.[14] The capsule contained newspapers from the time of its burial, information about what was happening at the school at the time, photos of members of the chemistry department, and other items related to the chemistry department as it had been in 1916. Included in these photos is a high resolution photo of Lloyd, which is often used in articles about her life and work. Arguably the most important item in the capsule was a biography of Lloyd's life, titled "In Memoriam: Rachel Lloyd, Ph.D".[15] The book was written by her brother-in-law, Clement Lloyd, and contained information about her life that was not found elsewhere. [16]

Affiliations and Memberships[edit]

Throughout Lloyd's professional career she was a member of many clubs, associations, and professional societies. Her most notable memberships were in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association for the Advancement of Women, and the American Chemical Society.[12] Lloyd was also a member of the following organizations/clubs: the German Chemical Society, English Chemical Society, the Hayden Art Gallery, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Browning Club, the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, and the National American Woman Suffrage Association.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Rachel Holloway Lloyd". American Chemical Society. Retrieved 2019-10-17.
  2. ^ "National Historic Chemical Landmarks - American Chemical Society". American Chemical Society. Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  3. ^ "Rachel Holloway Lloyd". American Chemical Society. Retrieved 2019-11-07.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Griep, Mark A. (2014). Easy and Lucid Guide to a Knowledge of Rachel Abbie Holloway Lloyd. Lincoln, Nebraska: Keeper's Cottage Press. ISBN 0692290826.
  5. ^ Lloyd, Clement. In Memoriam: Rachel Lloyd, Ph.D.
  6. ^ American Chemical Society National Historic Chemical Landmarks. Rachel Lloyd, Ph.D., Pioneering Woman in Chemistry. http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/whatischemistry/landmarks/rachel-holloway-lloyd.html (10/4/2019)
  7. ^ a b Creese, Mary R.S.; Creese, Thomas M. (1995). "Rachel Llyod: Early Nebraska Chemist" (PDF). The Bulletin for the History of Chemistry. 17/18: 9–14.
  8. ^ Lloyd, Rachel (1887). "Ueber die Umwandlung höherer Homologen des Benzolphenols in primäre und secundäre Amine" (PDF). Berichte der deutschen chemischen Gesellschaft. 20: 1254. doi:10.1002/cber.188702001282.
  9. ^ a b Tarbell, Ann T.; D. Stanley Tarbell (September 1982). "Dr. Rachel Lloyd (1839-1900): American Chemist". Journal of Chemical Education. 59 (9): 743–744. doi:10.1021/ed059p743.
  10. ^ Griep, Mark. "Dr. Rachel Lloyd was the first woman chemistry professor". Biennial Conference on Chemical Education. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  11. ^ "Rachel LLoyd earns landmark". Chemical Engineering News (92, 46). American Chemistry Society. 17 November 2014. p. 46.
  12. ^ a b c d e Lindblom, Keith L. "Rachel Lloyd, Ph.D. Pioneering Woman in Chemistry" (PDF). National Historic Chemical Landmarks. American Chemical Society. Retrieved 25 April 2015.
  13. ^ American Chemical Society National Historic Chemical Landmarks. Rachel Lloyd, Ph.D., Pioneering Woman in Chemistry. http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/whatischemistry/landmarks/rachel-holloway-lloyd.html (10/4/2019)
  14. ^ Griep, Mark (1 November 2018). "Forgotten Chemistry Time Capsule Revealed the Stories of Two Early Female Chemistry Professors". American Chemical Society Bulletin for the History of Chemistry. 43: 27–40. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  15. ^ "In Memoriam: Rachel Lloyd, Ph.D." unlhistory.unl.edu. Retrieved 2019-11-07.
  16. ^ Griep, Mark (1 November 2018). "Forgotten Chemistry Time Capsule Revealed the Stories of Two Early Female Chemistry Professors". American Chemical Society Bulletin for the History of Chemistry. 43: 27–40. Retrieved 11 October 2019.


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