Woman of the Century/Frances Fisher Wood
WOOD, Mrs. Frances Fisher, educator, lecturer and scientist, was born in Massachusetts while her mother was on a visit to that State. Her home was in Ohio. During her collegiate course in Vassar she was distinguished in mathematical and astronomical studies. She was a pupil and friend of Maria Mitchell. Some of her telescopic discoveries were considered of sufficient importance for publication in scientific journals. Finding the demands of conventional dress detrimental to health and success, the young girl applied to the authorities for permission to wear in college her mountain dress, consisting of a short kilted skirt and a comfortable jacket. Dress-reform at that time had not been incorporated in fashionable ethics, but the departure in costume, though requiring considerable courage in the introduction, soon became popular, and has been influential in establishing in the college a more hygienic dress regime. Since that time, though she has not sought recognition among FRANCES FISHER WOOD. the agitators of dress-reform, she has been a strong advocate of a rational dress for women. During her college life she held several important offices, and was graduated with high honors. Renouncing voluntarily the enjoyment of a brilliant social career, she began her educational work by preparing the boys of Dr. White's Cleveland school for college entrance examinations in higher mathematics Later she purchased a school for girls in Cleveland, and conducted it with financial and educational success until her marriage with Dr. William B. Wood, of New York. Since then her educational activity has broadened and embraced a wide area of interest. She is one of the founders of the Public Education Society in New York, which is devoted to investigating and reforming the public school system. She is also on the executive board of the University Extension Society, and one of the organizers and incorporators and a trustee of Barnard College. Simultaneously with her educational work, Mrs. Wood began to write for the press mid to speak on scientific subjects and on current topics, including evolution, at that time an unfamiliar and unpopular theory. Political economy, scientific chanty, the higher education of women and other kindred themes were her favorite topics until recently, when the scientific care of young children employed her attention. At present she is engaged in writing a book for mothers upon the prevention of disease in children. She is a close student of current literature, and reads for her husband the medical periodicals and books as soon as issued. She has a gift of rapid scanning, swift memorizing and instantaneous classification, which enables her to catch and retain the salient points of a took in an afternoon's reading, and to dispose of a scientific periodical in the time occupied by the ordinary woman in looking over her fashion journal. In 1888 Mrs. Wood's accustomed interests were interrupted by the birth of a son. Finding artifical nourishment a necessity, within three months she had mastered all the literature of infant's food and its digestion obtainable in the English and German languages. From that research she deduced the theory that the only proper artificial food for infants was sterilized milk in its most perfect form. Sterilized milk is a modern discovery, and in 1888 its preparation was comparatively unknown in this country. Mrs. Wood devoted her energies to the work of preparing and perfecting artificial food, conducting the experiments in her home for nearly a year. Having found that the only possible way to sterilize milk was to have an establishment in the country, she organized it on such a scale that its benefits extend to other mothers. Thus out of her own need was gradually developed the industry of the Kingwood Farms, Kingston, N. H., the only establishment of its kind in this country, where, from a herd of blooded Jersey cows, milk is so sterilized that it will keep for years. The series of exhaustive experiments has been directly under Mrs. Wood's supervision, the financial affairs of the successful business are still entirely controlled by her, and one of the principal inventions for the accomplishment of the seemingly impossible, which had baffled savants as well as dairy men, was made and patented by this scientific woman. She is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Women, of the Wednesday Afternoon and Women's University Clubs and of the Association of Collegiate Alumnæ.