Wesley unveils historical marker dedicated to Cannon

Participating at the unveiling of the marker were, from left, Charles A. Salkin, Judy Edelkind, Valerie Shorter, Ruth Ann Clark and President Robert E. Clark II. (Submitted photo/Wesley College)

Participating at the unveiling of the marker were, from left, Charles A. Salkin, Judy Edelkind, Valerie Shorter, Ruth Ann Clark and President Robert E. Clark II. (Submitted photo/Wesley College)

DOVER — Three quarters of a century after her a death, a Wesley College graduate has received a new honor.

Last week, the Annie Jump Cannon historical marker was dedicated in a ceremony outside the renowned astronomer’s childhood home at 34 S. State St.

More than 70 people gathered April 8 to celebrate the unveiling of the marker and to learn more about the Delaware native and famous pioneer in science. Astronomer Cannon (1863-1941) developed a classification system still used today.

The marker was suggested by Charles A. Salkin, retired director of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (Division of Parks and Recreation) and was sponsored by Rep. Sean Lynn, D-Dover, and Sen. Brian Bushweller, D-Dover. Deputy Director of the Delaware Public Archives Sarah Denison helped spearhead the project, working with a committee of Wesley faculty and staff as well as community members.

“Annie Jump Cannon was a remarkable woman, unafraid to push conventional norms and be one of the first women in Delaware to attend college at Wilmington Conference Academy, now Wesley,” said Mr. Salkin. “Her determination to learn and achieve as well as showcase her knowledge led to a new classification system for stars and a legacy of impressive discoveries.”

A brief presentation included remarks from Wesley College President Robert E. Clark II; Mr. Salkin; Rep. Harvey Kenton, R-Milford; Wesley Dean of Students Wanda Anderson; Judy Edelkind, great-niece of Ms. Cannon; former Wesley administrator and faculty Dr. Thomas Sturgis; Ms. Denison, and Wesley College student Valerie Shorter, who was the primary author of the marker text.

The inscription on the marker states: “Annie Jump Cannon (1863-1941), a prominent astronomer who pioneered stellar classification, observed her first stars from the roof of this house. Cannon, who was legally deaf, graduated valedictorian from Wilmington Conference Academy, now Wesley College, in 1880. She continued her studies at Wellesley College and Radcliffe Women’s College at Harvard. While working at the Harvard Observatory, Cannon developed the Star Spectra system, classifying over 300,000 stars based on color and temperature. She was the first woman to receive an honorary doctorate from Oxford University and her long career paved the way for women in science.”

A reception at the former home of Annie Jump Cannon followed the dedication and featured additional information about the astronomer.

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