In Memoriam:

Rachel Lloyd, Ph.D.

Department of Chemistry, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

portrait of Rachel Lloyd Read full text of "In Memoriam: Rachel Lloyd, Ph.D."


For the first time in 98 years, it is once again possible to read Clement Lloyd's biography of Dr. Rachel Lloyd. Here is the story about how I found the only known copy in 2014.

I have been interested in the life of Dr. Rachel Holloway Lloyd (1839-1900) ever since I learned about her in 1997. She was the first female faculty member in my chemistry department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She was hired shortly after she received her Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Zurich in 1887. In fact, she was the first American woman to receive a Ph.D. in chemistry from any university. At Nebraska, she was a popular teacher because of her warm personality, refined sensibilities, and deep commitment to scientific research. For her research, Dr. Lloyd analyzed the sugar concentration in sugar beets grown by Nebraska farmers. When she reported high yields from beets grown nearly everywhere in Nebraska, it led to the creation of the sugar beet industry in Nebraska that is still going strong today.

In 2013, I served as chair of the Nebraska Local Section of the American Chemical Society and was quite aware that Dr. Lloyd was one of the Nebraska Local Section's founding members in 1895. To honor her contributions, I prepared a nomination to the American Chemical Society for "Dr. Rachel Lloyd and the Nebraska Beet Sugar Industry" to be recognized as a National Historic Chemical Landmark (NHCL). They accepted my nomination and, in October 2014, we will celebrate Dr. Lloyd's life and career with a banquet. To add a contemporary component, we will also host the Dr. Rachel Lloyd Women in Science Conference featuring six prominent speakers who will each give five-minute summaries of their career paths and then tell us about their latest research.

While preparing the NHCL nomination, I was eager to find a second photograph of Dr. Lloyd. Up to that point, her only known photograph was published in the 1895 Sombrero, the University of Nebraska student yearbook. The photo was a bit blurry because of the process used to reproduce it. During my search for material about her life, however, I came across two newspaper articles that suggested there might be another photograph.

The earlier of the two articles was published in The Times of Philadelphia on January 10, 1901, about nine months after her death. The article was a four-paragraph summary of Clement Lloyd's privately printed biography of his sister-in-law Dr. Rachel Lloyd. The key sentence said, "The book, which is handsomely printed bearing a beautifully engraved portrait of the late Professor Lloyd on the initial page, contains a complete sketch of her life, and reproduces many of her letters." It seems she married his younger brother Franklin and, when Franklin died after only six years of marriage, the young widow took up the profession of chemistry instructor because her husband had been a chemist. First she taught at two girls' schools, then at the nation's first School of Pharmacy for Women, and finally at the University of Nebraska.

I knew I had to find a copy of Clement Lloyd's book but I soon found that none exist. It is not among Clement Lloyd's papers in the Swarthmore College archives even though Clement's son, R. Louis Lloyd, had donated papers to Swarthmore College that "descended in the family" including, "Some notes in handwriting of Clement E. Lloyd." Clement's book is also not in the libraries of Case Western Reserve Archives, Chemical Heritage Foundation, Chicago History Museum Library, ETH-Zurich Archives,, New York Public Library, Pennsylvania History Museum Library, State of Ohio Archives, U.S. Library of Congress, University of Kentucky Archives, University of Nebraska Archives, or University of Pennsylvania Library. If you find a copy in your library, please let me know.

The second article that mentioned a photo of Dr. Lloyd was published in the Red Cloud Chief of Red Cloud, Nebraska, on June 22, 1916. The article summarized the contents placed in the cornerstone of the new chemistry building, now called Avery Hall, on the University of Nebraska campus. It said there "were pictures of Chancellor Avery, Prof. H. H. Nicholson, first head of the chemistry department, Prof. Rachel Lloyd, the second head, and photographs of the chemistry societies." Having failed to find Clement Lloyd's book, I knew I had to open the cornerstone to see this photo of Dr. Lloyd.

By May 2014, I had permission and the funds to extract the Avery Hall time capsule. It was filled with items showing the state of the chemistry department in 1916. To my astonishment, Clement Lloyd's 1901 biography of Dr. Rachel Lloyd was also in the time capsule! The embossing on its cover indicates it belonged to the University of Nebraska Library. I have now returned the book to them and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Archives has kindly created this electronic version. The only photo of Dr. Lloyd in the time capsule was the frontispiece of Clement Lloyd's book. It is a higher resolution version of the photo in the 1895 Sombrero so that it is now possible to see her hair band, earrings, necklace, the pattern on her dress, and the twinkle in her eyes. The biography contains a number of insightful details about her life that are found nowhere else.

I hope you enjoy reading Clement Lloyd's biography of his sister-in-law as much I enjoyed finding it.

Mark Griep