Delaware Historical Society: Annie Jump Cannon of Dover was a daughter of Wilson Cannon and Mary Jump and developed the Henry Draper Catalog at Harvard and was the first Female Officer of the American Astronomical Society
Some kids played with whirligigs in the 1800s. Annie Jump Cannon had stars in her eyes; always wondering how many balls of gas burned in the heavens. Born in Dover in 1863, Cannon was the eldest of three daughters of Wilson Cannon, a state senator and Delaware shipbuilder. Cannon’s mother, Mary Jump, taught her the constellations. Cannon studied astronomy and physics at Wellesley College, then helped develop the Henry Draper Catalog at Harvard. She catalogued about 500,000 stars, devising a structure that would eventually be adopted by the International Astronomical Union as the official system for stellar spectra classification. Women were accepted begrudgingly in the field in those days, yet Cannon, a suffragette, was the first female to earn an honorary doctorate from Oxford and the first woman officer of the American Astronomical Society. It took Harvard decades to name Cannon a full professor—two years before she retired. Cannon did fall short once: She was nominated but not elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences because a colleague was disturbed by her disability. Cannon was deaf.