Did you know Kathleen Carpenter, freshwater ecologist?


Dr. Kathleen Carpenter

We have found only one personal account of Kathleen Carpenter, pioneering freshwater ecologist. She is sitting in a garden in Birkenhead eating cucumber sandwiches and discussing with her neighbours the recent outbreak of World War 2. It is a beautiful day but barrage balloons float overhead.

Poignantly it is also one of the last references we have for her, as her scientific career does not seem to extend beyond the duration of the war. However she lived until 1970, so it is possible that there is somebody still alive who may have known her during the final part of her life which she spent in Cheltenham.  For this reason we have sent the letter below to the Gloucestershire Echo. Please feel free to tweet this blog or direct others to it, if you think they might have known Kathleen Carpenter or her sister Bessey.

It is an exciting prospect to think we might talk to someone who talked to Kathleen! Hope you can help.

Bessy Carpenter

Bessey Adams (Carpenter)

“We are researching the life of a pioneering woman scientist named Kathleen Carpenter, who was living in Cheltenham when she died in 1970, aged 79. She was born in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, but her love of science took her around Britain and the USA. She was one of the first women scientists in Britain to study (in the 1920’s and 1930’s) the ecology of animals in rivers and lakes . She studied and lectured at Aberystwyth University before moving to America, where she taught in Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland. She returned to the UK to lecture in Liverpool during World War II.

We don’t know when she moved to Cheltenham, but she was living at Norwood, 39 Leckhampton Road, when she died in 1970. She may have earlier lived at Douglas House on Parabola Road. She never married, but was close to her sister, Bessey Adams, who also lived in Cheltenham. Bessey was a widowed former school headmistress from Stockton-on-Tees, who lived at 138 Leckhampton Road when she died in 1974, aged 93. 

We would be very pleased to hear from anybody who might have know either of these two accomplished women. We can be contacted at warrenk@kovcomp.com.

Warren Kovach and Catherine Duigan”