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Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences/Department of Earth Sciences

Gertrude Lilian Elles

Educated at Newnham College, Gertrude Lilian Elles became a lifelong member of the geological community. She rose from being an undergraduate and assistant demonstrator, to become one of the first female university lecturers in the university, and the first in the department of geology, in 1926. Ten years later she became the first female reader. Elles wrote ‘British Graptolites’, a definitive text on the biology and stratigraphy of graptolites. This was in collaboration with her colleague and friend, Ethel Shakespear (née Wood) who prepared the illustrations. Elles was also one of the first female fellows of the Geological Society in 1919, and became vice principal of Newnham College, 1925-1936. Her efforts for the Red Cross during the First World War were later acknowledged in the form of an MBE in 1920. The Sedgwick Museum Archive includes the papers of the Sedgwick Club, founded in 1880 in memory of Adam Sedgwick. Gertrude Elles features in many of the records, from student participant in 1896, to expedition leader in 1921. Elle's fossil collections total over 3,700 objects.

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