How Smithsonian Helped Solve the Twitter Mystery of the Unknown Woman Scientist

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tags: womens history, Sheila Minor

1971 International Conference on Biology of Whales

Illustrator Candace Jean Andersen was researching a picture book on the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 when she came across a photograph taken during a scientific conference. Her eyes locked on the only woman pictured, who also happened to be the only person who wasn’t identified in the photo by name and title.

“Seeing this lone woman in the group, I wanted to know who she was,” Anderson tells “Surely she’s of some importance if she’s at this conference.”

The picture haunted her. A few weeks after she first saw the photo, she took to Twitter. “Can you help me know her?” she asked her 500 followers. She shared the full photograph and a cropped version that zoomed in on this mystery person: a pixelated magnification of a black woman wearing a headband, her face partially obscured by the man standing in front of her.

Her literary agent retweeted her. So did a zoologist friend. Soon, the responses started pouring in.

Read entire article at Smithsonian

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