Anna Jane Harrison (1912 - 1998)

Anna J. Harrison, a leader in the field of chemistry, was born December 23, 1912 on a farm in Benton City, Missouri. She attended a one-room rural school where she later taught for two years after her graduation from the University of Missouri in 1933. She went on to receive her Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Missouri in 1940. Harrison’s career in chemical education began at Sophie Newcomb College, Tulane University in 1940. While on leave in 1942, Harrison did confidential defense research at the University of Missouri. She also worked two years later with the A. J. Griner Company of Kansas City in the development of field kits for the army to collect and detect toxic smoke. In 1945 she joined the faculty at Mt. Holyoke College as an assistant professor of chemistry. Two years later she was promoted to associate professor, and in 1950 to full professor. Harrison served as chair of the Department of Chemistry from 1960 to 1966. She retired in 1979 as professor emeritus of Chemistry.

Harrison was the recipient of 20 honorary degrees as well as many awards and honors, including the Citation of Merit of the University of Missouri College of Arts and Sciences (1960), the Manufacturing Chemists Association Award in College Chemistry Teaching (1969), and the Chemical Education Award from the American Chemical Society (1982).

In addition to her teaching and writing, Harrison served on the National Science Board from 1972 to 1978, as president of the American Chemical Society in 1978 (the first woman to hold that position), and as President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1983-84. Anna Jane Harrison died of a stroke in 1998 at the age of 85.