Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Emily Warren Roebling

The Awesome Woman of the Day for Wednesday, September 26, 2012 is Emily Warren Roebling, U.S. civil engineer (September 23, 1843 – February 28, 1903).

Emily’s father-in-law was John Roebling, the guy who came up with the idea for the Brooklyn Bridge. He died of tetanus before construction began, and his son, Emily’s husband, Washington Roebling became bedridden from decompression sickness (caisson disease) from working deep under water in the bridge caissons.

Rather than abandon the project, Emily learned civil engineering so that she could work with her husband to finish the bridge. Her participation was, to put it mildly, controversial, and she and Washington had to fight to remain on the project (a fight they won). From The ACSE website: “At the opening ceremony, a Roebling competitor, Abram Hewitt, said of her: "The name of Emily Warren Roebling inseparably associated with all that is admirable in human nature and all that is wonderful in the constructive world of art." He called the bridge "an everlasting monument to the self-sacrificing devotion of a woman and of her capacity for that higher education from which she has been too long disbarred."

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