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The Hidden Deaf History of the Stars // Annie Jump Canon [CC]

The Hidden Deaf History of the Stars // Annie Jump Canon [CC]


Hello lovely people! I’m back with another historical profile,
for those of you who just love learning about exciting deaf, disabled or LGBTQ+ folks from
history. I mean let’s be honest, it’s the
history classes we all deserved to have in school! Today we’re going to be talking about someone
a little different to our previous characters. Whilst many of them are widely known, Annie
Jump Cannon isn’t spoken about much but she really, really deserves to be! You can find my previous videos in the series
in a playlist that will be linked in the description and probably in a card above, right… Remember if you’re new or have been watching
for a while but haven’t yet done so to please hit the subscribe button and then the notification
bell to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the wonderful people I’ll be spotlighting
in the future. And if you have a suggestion for my next profile
then please do leave it in the comments below! Born on the 11th December 1863, Annie Jump
Cannon was the oldest of three daughters born to Wilson Cannon, a Delaware shipbuilder and
senator, and his second wife, Mary Jump. Unusually for a middle-class Victorian mother Mary Jump
did not just train her daughters in music, manners and marrying – “Oh why thank you kindly, sir. Of course
I’ll marry you for that compliment.” but instead she encouraged her girls to follow
their passions. Annie’s mother taught her the constellations
and emboldened Annie in pursuing studies in mathematics, chemistry, and biology. They
would gaze at the stars together from an attic room, using an old astronomy textbook to identify
the beautiful shapes and patterns that could be seen with the naked eye. By her early teens
Annie had already memorised a working map of the night sky. Obviously she did also have to learn household
economics. Don’t be silly. It’s not like she could Google things or watch a YouTube
video on how to change a plug. – She also didn’t have plugs. Those early lessons in family economics, savings,
and labour supply actually panned out wonderfully when it came to her research! See, you think
your mother telling you how to load the washing machine is boring? But she’s actually giving
you vital study tips that you’ll need to pass your exams! Listen to your parents! – unless they are disparaging you. In which
case: nah. Since Annie so clearly enjoyed school and
learning new things, particularly in science, her parents decided… To send her to university! [crowd cheer] I know, we’re all stunned by this excellent
late 19th century parenting of a daughter. If only all 21st century parents around the
world would catch up. Annie studied physics and astronomy at Wellesley,
one of the top academic schools for women in the US. She studied under Sarah Frances
Whiting, one of the few female physicists in the United States at the time, and went
on to become the class valedictorian. She graduated with a degree in physics in 1884. And sometime during this time she contracted
scarlet fever, a contagious infection that, since the proper treatment was not widely
available at that time, had a high mortality rate and often left people with lifelong problems. Long-term
complications as a result of scarlet fever include kidney disease, rheumatic heart disease,
and arthritis. It’s generally seen in children aged 5 to 15 and was a leading cause of death
for young people in the early 20th century. Annie was stricken with scarlet fever while
at university and it caused an ear infection that left her close to profoundly deaf. So what did she do? [inspirational music] – Looked after her wellbeing for an appropriate
period of convalescence and focused on recovering her strength completely before she felt well
enough to return to school. And then she got right back up and became
class valedictorian because she was a fighter! – Focus on your own health and wellness first
before pushing yourself into being someone else’s inspirational story. [bell sfx] She graduated in 1884 with a degree in physics
and returned home, but grew restless with the limited career options open to women. Because there were only three of them and
they were all dull as dishwater. Her hearing loss also made it difficult to
socialise, especially since she was a very lively and extroverted personality. Hard relate. Instead she threw herself into a new love
of photography and traveled through Europe taking photographs with her Blair Box Camera
which, as you can tell from the name, was both a camera… and a box. Most of the accounts I’ve read of Annie
Jump Cannon make it sound as if nothing happened to her for ten years after she graduated but
she actually did rather well with her photography- probably because she didn’t have
to listen to anyone. [laugh] After returning from her travels, her prose and photographs were published by
the Blair company in a pamphlet called “In the Footsteps of Columbus”, and distributed
as a souvenir at the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. Go Annie! But it’s also fair to say that her hearing
loss made daily life very difficult. Annie did not search for a husband and no one seems
to have thought it was a consideration, whether from the innate ableism in the desexualisation
of disabled or chronically ill people or simply because Annie just didn’t want one herself,
we can’t know. Since she was a strong and independent lady with no need for a man what
so ever we’re not going to talk about it again because [blows raspberries] When Annie’s mother, who was her main translator,
died in 1894 her home life became more difficult and she wrote to her former professor at Wellesley,
Sarah Frances Whiting, to ask about job opportunities. Whiting hired her as a junior physics teacher
at the college and encouraged her to take graduate courses there in physics and astronomy. In order to gain access to a better telescope
she enrolled at Radcliffe Women’s College at Harvard, which… was actually just set
up near Harvard College for Harvard professors to repeat their lectures to the young Radcliffe
women because… Sexism. It did however give her access to the Harvard
College Observatory. Where she became [harp sfx] a Harvard Computer! The Computers were an all-woman team of astronomy
analysts who worked for Harvard Observatory director Edward C. Pickering to complete the
Henry Draper Catalogue, with the goal of mapping and defining every star in the sky to a photographic
magnitude of about 9. – You don’t need to know what that means
to be impressed. The story goes that one day Pickering became
so enraged with the poor performance of his male Harvard grad students that he swore even
his maid could do a better job and hired her on the spot only to find out she was actually
a bonafide genius who was better than even him! Ha! Also: [sexism sign] After that, he only hired women, reasoning
that they were better at detailed work. Which is a little… sexist [sexism sign] but we’ll
smooth over it… They were however refered to by other members
of the university as “Pickering’s Harem” which… [sexism sign] This sign is getting more usage than I wanted
it to. Annie quickly became a phenomenal astronomer
and when tasked with classifying stars based on a huge catalog of astronomic spectography,
quickly realized that the classification system they were using was woefully inadequate. — so she made her own. [cheers]
Obviously. Previously, all stars had been lumped into
categories of A, B, and C, But Annie came up with the classification
system of (watch me attempt to get this right) O, B, A, F, G, K, M, R, N, S, -Which has been remembered for years now with
the mnemonic of “Oh, be a fine girl, kiss me right now, sweet.” Sure(!) By 1910, Annie’s system for organising and
classifying stars based on their temperatures and spectral types had become the de-facto
standard, and remains so to this day as the Harvard Classification Scheme. Because yes,
she was just that great. At the peak of her career she was able to classify three stars
per minute and not only that- SHE REMEMBERED ALL OF THEM. When shown a photograph of a
star or asked to pick up a plate with a specific star on, she instantly knew, out of tens of
thousands of plates, the exact star and its name. Annie and the other women at the observatory
were criticised at first for being “out of their place”- (ie. not being housewives) [sexism sign] At this time women did not commonly rise beyond
the level of assistant and were paid far less than their male counterparts for doing the same job. But Annie dominated
this field because of her “tidiness” and patience for the tedious work, and even helped the
men in the observatory gain popularity. She wrote books and articles to increase astronomy’s
status and helped broker partnerships in the international astronomy community. As she grew in prestige she became involved
in the women’s suffrage movement and worked as an ambassador for professional women everywhere.
She gave talks at the Worlds Fair in Chicago and never retired, working seven days a week- – generally for the criminally low rate of 25
cents an hour [sexism sign] Until she finally died from heart disease
at 76 years of age. Over her lifetime she cataloged over 350,000
stars, and some attribute her astronomical skill to her deafness. Annie herself said
that the silence allowed her to concentrate more fully on her work. In later years, with the help of a powerful
hearing aid, she was able to gain back her social life and held regular dinner parties
at her lovely house, which she renamed ‘Star Cottage’. It’s so cute! I can’t Near the end of her life, with World War 2
on the horizon, Annie summed up her worldview in one of her last interviews: “In these
days of great trouble and unrest, it is good to have something outside our own planet,
something fine and distant and comforting to troubled minds. Let people look to the
stars for comfort.” I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s video, please
do share it with someone who needs a little break from stress and to learn about a wonderful
woman. Please also consider becoming a member of
the Kellgren-Fozard Club, a behind the scenes group of Lovely People who have access to
a special extra video every month, a sign up goodie bag and… soon a Discord server. Which I will be setting up once I learn how. I know I look young but really I’m just
a 90 year old with a good skin care routine and a passion for hydration. See you in my next video! [kiss]

100 thoughts on “The Hidden Deaf History of the Stars // Annie Jump Canon [CC]”

  1. It’s not fair to your other videos but this one is my favorite. I had never heard of that extraordinary woman, it’s a shame as she is so inspirational. Thank you !

  2. Studying astrophysics at uni right now, and Annie Jump Canon is a huge inspiration to me <3 Not only did she overcome such odds and was an incredible mathematician and hard worker, she also made astronomy a hell of a lot easier for idiots like me 😂

  3. A female who was also deaf. No wonder male historians muted the knowledge of her from education. Thank you for this informative video. As a female I'm proud of this. ❤

  4. Have you heard of Puerto Rican astrophysicist Wanda Diaz Merced? She is blind and uses a technique called sonification to ‘see’ the stars

  5. Oh how I love your history lessons of woman that the male history just glosses over. Your such a lovely young lady. 👍🙉🙈🙊☕️

  6. I just got my astrophysics degree but how haven’t I heard of this badass scientist!! Thank you for sharing her story ❤️

  7. I learned her classification system in astronomy class but never learned about her life or about her hearing loss. Great video!

  8. Haven't even gotten into thee video but I had to pause to add that I'm so excited to see a famous person born on my birthday! So few people are actually born on December 11th.

    Edit: Great and informative as always! Just be prepared because that meme of you holding the sexism sign will be the next thing to break the internet.

  9. "Listen to your parents! (Unless they're disparaging you, in which case NAH!)" Bahaha yes, thank you for this gift, I love it.

  10. wow, she is amazing! thanks so much for teaching us about Annie Jump Canon, Jessica, even as a physics student interested in astronomy I had never come across her name. let's go underrepresented scientists!

  11. I love this history lesson, well done. I also have to admit that I love your usage of the "sign". The eyebrow lifts over the top are hilarious.

  12. Her tie gave me flashbacks to private school.
    Regardless, this video was so interesting! I've loved your channel for a while now, and I really do love the way that you storytell history from different perspectives. You're incredibly talented and I cant wait to see more of your content 💙

  13. The Harvard computers are an impressive group! (It also contains Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, who earned the first PhD in Astronomy from Radcliffe for showing that stars were mostly hydrogen and helium, and Henrietta Swan Leavitt, who described the relationship between luminosity and period for Cepheid variables, which makes them a "standard candle" for estimating distances to other galaxies.) Glad to see this video; they don't get enough credit for basically creating the foundations of modern astronomy. (FYI, the modern Harvard system only uses letters O-M. I think I've also heard it referred to as the Cannon scale, but that might have just been my astro teacher?)

  14. I was thinking about how she reminds me of another brilliant scientist Henrietta Leavitt (sidenote: there's a beautiful play about her called Silent Sky by Lauren Gunderson) when you said Canon worked at Harvard!. Leavitt worked their as well.

  15. I remember Annie Jump Canon from a special on pbs. She had a deaf accent in the recreations they did but I wonder if that was accurate since she went deaf as an adult.

  16. Thank you for once again bringing someone to are attention that we were unaware of. Because of your video I'm going to my neighborhood library and get more information on her! I love reading autobiographies it's always been a passion of mine . You remind me of my favorite teachers who made learning so much fun ! ❤🌎💯😎❤😊

  17. This was an excellente break from the stress of finalizing my dissertation! Completely different subject and Jessicas never ending happiness and positivity rubbs of at least a little bit, and I need it! 😀

  18. really interesting to hear about scientists who were disabled being a boss in their field. also i recently read an interesting article about a astrophysicists who is blind and uses sound to hear data. she's great and actually made some new discoveries in her field!

  19. (what I believe to be) Those Gay Rainbow nails are awesome! For Brighton Pride Right? I hope you had a great time at pride. I did ( London however)
    I love your historical profiles and smart stuff in general.
    I really don't know what you should do for your next profile but i hope they are awesome and you can teach me the stuff school neglects and I'm pretty sure I'm going to tell my history teacher about these and spew words like a geyzer (GAY-zer maybe).
    Please keep making content like this because no one can argue that it's bad.

  20. The maid that Pickering hired, Williamina Fleming, was a Scottish immigrant with no traditional schooling whatsoever. There’s a play about Henrietta Leavitt called Silent Sky that I highly recommend. Annie and Williamina are in it, and it’s hinted that they are in a relationship, which is awesome. 👍

  21. annie jump cannon was my great-great aunt & im always so excited to see stuff about her, especially from one of my favorite youtube channels!!

  22. "Focus on your own health and wellbeing first before pushing yourself to be someone else's inspirational story" – love this!!

  23. Yay! I really enjoy your historical profiles. Jessica thank you for talking about Annie Jump Cannon. I have been so fascinated by these Harvard computers since reading The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars

    by Dava Sobel.

  24. Loved this so much! Now i'm gonna go binge the whole playlist. Also doing discord for your patrons is awesome. My best friend lives in Australia and I'm in western US and we are able to hang out together via discord multiple times a week. I don't think our friendship would be possible without it.

  25. Jane Addams – lesbian who had Potts disease which caused long term health problems who who founded social work in the US and cofounded the UCLA

  26. I love astronomy since I was a child and seeing astronomer women inspires me a lot (even though i'm not studying astronomy yet because I chose psychology first) and I loved the story of this extraordinary woman and I'm so happy to hear Annie's story! Thanks Jessica, you are amazing and your videos are perfect!

  27. The SEXISM sign and the way you hold it up is giving me life. I really enjoy the style of your videos with the side camera, I am sure it is a lot of work but it looks phenomenal and your comment is always on point. Thank you for this very interesting video!!!

  28. There is a book about the Harvard Computers, "The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars"

  29. I am reading Dava Sobels amazing book Glass Universe on the extraordinary women in "Pickerings Harem". So much I wasn't taught in school!

  30. Hello Jessica Kellgren,
    First I'd like to say thank you for being so honest & most importantly for being you.
    You are the first YouTuber I can relate too who speaks about all the aspects of hearing loss as well as the struggles that come with it; It's something that normal people can't begin to comprehend nor understand no matter how much they try. The reason I am writing to you right now is because I'd like to know if you suffer from a sleep disorder such as (sleep apnea) due to your hearing loss and if you do so. I'd like to hear about your personal experience regarding to that matter.
    My name is Melissa I am 27 years old with severe to profound hearing loss & I suffer from sleep apnea due to my disability that not only affect my ability to sleep also my visual & long term memory.

  31. I feel like one of the really big take aways from this should be that systemic oppression keeps geniuses at the level of maids and detracts from what the world could be

  32. Very interesting, you may like to mention her colleague Henrietta Leavitt, also deaf, and her pioneering work on ceiphid variables. Henrietta is a towering figure in the history of astronomy.

  33. when you read that quote on the end suddenly two tears dropped from my eyes like in the movies, two single tears, now i wanna go look at the stars in the night sky but i live in a polluted city so there goes any chance to see even one star 🙁

  34. This is fascinating and I wish I would’ve heard about her story earlier. Love your narration style, your sass is truly one of its kind. 😀 And I agree with other commenters, you could totally publish a book one day!

  35. Unpopular opinion alert. Not criticising or trying to be controversial and not trying to start an argument just letting you know what I think: These videos are getting more "sarky" than needed. I love a bit of sarcasm and closed minded bigot bashing as much as the next person but for these historical profile videos this has gone a little over the top. Also I think the repeated sexism thing was a bit much too. Everyone knows the past was incredibly sexist and we are working to improve that and we can also recognise sexism quite easily without it being repeated over and over again. I dont think it adds anything to the video, in fact I believe it takes away from the fantastic quality information Jessica does so well at teaching us. Honestly, this isnt an insult I just feel that there is a better time and place for these sideways comments. I love learning about these amazing people and you are so right about how we should be taught about them at school. As a young female scientist myself this is inspirational.

  36. How does someone say “no problem!” I’m learning BSL but i can’t seem to find a “thank you” response other than you’re welcome. And while I know it works the same I always feel like it’s politer to say no problem. Anyone who could help me I would greatly appreciate it!

  37. Female computers in many disciplines have made some of the most significant findings. I'm loving this series Jessica – totally agree with the commenter who says you should write a history book 😀

  38. I love watching these, your voice is so calming and the videos are so calm but funny and you learn so much, every episode of these you do i've either never heard of the person before or I've never heard of their LGBT status/disabilities it's always so interesting and great way to wind down i love them!!

  39. I just had to drop out of college for now due to my illness and some doctors' mistakes. I've been super depressed about it and not doing well. It kind of hit me when you said that about taking care of one's own health, that the Big Panic I've been having isn't necessary. This is an easy decision and I made the right one. Thank you for helping me realize.

  40. Jessica, this series keeps on getting better and better! Thanks so much for doing all this research and helping us to be more informed. I love the sexism sign it was an awesome choice.

  41. “Deafness, power of will and sexism under the stars in Harvard”. Good story about great woman. Never heard about Annie before, but it is good to know about her now. Sure that she influenced a lot of women to try “unwomanly” professions.

  42. I would love you to make a video about Julie d'Aubigny aka la maupin, she was a bisexual woman in 17th century in france 🙂

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