Nora Stanton Blatch Barney

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Nora Stanton Blatch was the first woman to join the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). She was the first woman to receive a Civil Engineering degree from Cornell University in 1905. While formal schooling for American women in the early twentieth century was still uncommon, she went even further by pursuing an engineering career, working for the American Bridge Company and the New York City Board of Water Supply. Nora inherited her mother’s zeal for the cause as the daughter of women’s rights pioneer Harriot Stanton Blatch. She was active in the women’s suffrage campaign in addition to her bustling work. She was married to Lee De Forest, the inventor of the radio vacuum tube, at one point. Because her spouse was terrified by her independent spirit and professional drive, she worked for his company until the pair split and subsequently divorced. She went back to work for the Radley Steel Construction Company and the New York Public Service Commission after her divorce. She went on to work as an architect while continuing to be engaged in the women’s rights movement, eventually becoming president of the Women’s Political Union in 1915.

Childhood and Adolescence

Nora Stanton Blatch was born in Basingstoke, Hampshire, England, on September 30, 1883, to William Blatch and Harriot Stanton. Harriot was an outspoken supporter of women’s suffrage. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Nora’s maternal grandmother, was a trailblazing women’s rights campaigner.

Nora obtained a strong education and was supported by her parents in her academic endeavors as the daughter of a well-known feminist. She enrolled in the Horace Mann School in New York in 1897 to study Latin and mathematics.

In 1902, her family immigrated to the United States. Nora wanted to pursue engineering, which was a male-dominated field in the early twentieth century. She attended Cornell University and earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1905. She became the first woman to be approved as a junior member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in the same year.

A Career of Nora Stanton Blatch Barney

Nora Stanton Blatch started her career as an engineer with the New York City Board of Water Supply. In 1905–06, she also worked for the American Bridge Company.

became acquainted with Lee De Forest, the creator of the radio vacuum tube, during this time and began a romantic relationship with him. She subsequently abandoned her job and enrolled at Columbia University to study mathematics in order to aid De Forest in his work.

In 1908, she married De Forest and began working for his firm. On their honeymoon in Europe, the pair showed possible buyers De Forest’s radio equipment.

De Forest, on the other hand, wanted her to abandon her professional ambitions and become a traditional housewife, so the marriage did not survive long. Nora Stanton, a strongly independent woman, refused to accept this and divorced her husband. At the time of their divorce, she was pregnant with their daughter.

She started working at the Radley Steel Construction Company as an engineer in 1909. She finally divorced her spouse and went back to work as an engineer.

She got a job as an assistant engineer with the New York Public Service Commission. During this period, she looked into architectural jobs and went on to work as an architect, engineering inspector, and structural-steel designer for the Public Works Administration in Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Nora Stanton was an independent-minded woman who, in addition to managing her job, was dedicated to the women’s rights movement. From 1909 to 1917, Nora battled hard for women’s suffrage, following in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother. In 1915, she was elected president of the Women’s Political Union.

She applied to the ASCE in 1916 to be upgraded to associate membership because she had reached the junior membership age limit. Her plea was turned down only because of her gender. She then went on to launch a case against the ASCE, which she lost.

She married again and relocated to Greenwich, Connecticut, to work as a real estate developer. She remained active in political and women’s rights activity to the end, writing booklets like ‘Women as Human Beings’ (1946).

Achievements & Awards

Nora Stanton Blatch was the first woman to join the American Society of Civil Engineers as a junior member in 1905. (ASCE).
In 2015, she was promoted to ASCE Fellow rank posthumously, a distinction she was denied during her lifetime.

Personal History and Legacy

Nora Stanton married Lee de Forest, a well-known inventor, in 1908. Her marriage, however, swiftly fell apart because her husband expected her to become a traditional housewife rather than pursue her professional goals. Within a year of their marriage, the couple split up and divorced in 1911. This union resulted in the birth of a girl.

Morgan Barney, a marine architect, was her second husband, whom she married in 1919. Her second daughter was born as a result of this marriage.
She stayed active for the rest of her life, dying on January 18, 1971.

Estimated Net Worth

The net worth of Nora Stanton Blatch Barney is $1-3$million.

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