HANNAH FLAGG GOULD (1788-1865)
Like other women of the late 18th and early 19th century, Hannah Gould participated in the sciences from the periphery. As a young adult, Gould spent most of her time caring for her father, who was a Revolutionary War veteran. Her mother had died when she was a child and so her father depended on her for housework and companionship. Gould was known for her wit, and took up writing in her thirties. Gould first wrote playful poetry for her local paper, and then expanded to magazines and annuals. Her first body of work was published in 1832 and she penned ten other works between 1844 and 1865. Gould led a quiet life in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and never married.
A piece from her first book, titled “The Mastodon,” illustrates her enthusiasm for the sciences. Gould may not have been able to participate in paleontology at this time, but she clearly had an interest in the subject and as a result contributed to the field not as a scientist, but as a writer. This verse from the poem illustrates her interest:
“The ground, that, shuddering, drank thy blood,
In its clods dared not imbed thee;
And sea and skies gave a whelming flood,
As a pall, to overspread thee.
Age on age, with their stone and mould,
In strata deep, then made thee
A shroud no power could e’er unfold,
Till a day of steam betrayed thee.”