An Independence of Idea and Thought: The Life of Mary Hegeler Carus

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This online exhibit includes digitized photographs, scrapbooks and letters from the Open Court Publishing Company records and the Edward Hegeler–Paul Carus families papers held at SIUC that highlight the life of Mary Hegeler Carus.

A native of La Salle, Illinois, Carus was the first woman to study engineering at the University of Michigan, graduating with her bachelor of science degree in 1882. After further study at the School of Mines in Freiburg, Germany, Carus took an active role in the family zinc factory, first as a member of the board of directors and later as president. When her husband died in 1919 Carus took over the other family business, The Open Court Publishing Company, specializing in philosophical and theological works that advanced scholarly discourse. Her achievements in both ventures stand as a testament to her intellect and pioneering spirit in an era when a woman’s ambition was often bounded by the walls of her home.

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This exhibit is curated by Dr. Nicholas Guardiano, with assistance from Tricia Kelly, Joseph Steinbock, and Aaron Lisec.