January 17, 2013

Grant to focus on female mining engineer’s legacy

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale is the recipient of an Illinois Humanities Council grant to create a traveling exhibit and programs on the life of Mary Hegeler Carus, an acclaimed mining engineer, industrialist and philanthropist. 

Carus was the first woman to study engineering at the University of Michigan, and she later was president of the Matthiessen and Hegeler Zinc Co., in LaSalle from 1903 to 1936.  SIU’s Morris Library houses the Mary Hegeler Carus family papers in its Special Collections Research Center, and those documents will serve as the basis for the traveling exhibit and program.  The grant is for $4,025.

“Petticoats and Slide Rulers:  The Life of Mary Hegeler Carus” will highlight the ways in which American women have shaped technology and society for more than 100 years.  The exhibit will open with an inaugural program at 3 p.m. March 5, in the John C. Guyon Auditorium at Morris Library. 

The event is free and open to the public.  Featured speakers will include Kay Purcell, engineering lecturer; Melinda Yeomans, coordinator of University Women’s Professional Advancement, and Josephine Cantrell, Carus’ great-great-granddaughter. 

The exhibit opening and inaugural program coincides with the celebration of March as Women’s History Month.

The exhibit will later travel around Illinois, with additional public programs focusing on the exhibit.  Plans call for programs at various schools in Carbondale, in addition to the Hegeler Carus Mansion and other locations in LaSalle.