10 Things You Should Know About Rachel Carson


Her Family Came First

Rachel Carson Silent Spring
Despite being in the midst of studying for her doctorate, Rachel Carson quit her studies after both her father and sister died so she could take care of her family. Bettmann/Getty Images

Carson was a scholar in the making. After receiving her BA, she enrolled at Johns Hopkins in 1929 where she completed her masters in zoology and eventually began a Ph.D. program in 1932 to study marine biology. But the Depression changed things.

While she was working on her doctorate, her family moved in with her. Working as a lab assistant and teacher, Carson was the sole breadwinner in the house, supporting not only her mother and father, but also one of her sisters and two nieces.

Under severe financial pressure, Carson had to quit her doctoral program and get a job to support her family. In 1935, her father died and in 1937, so did her sister, making the financial responsibility for her mother and her nieces fall squarely on Carson's shoulders. Any and all future studies for Carson became out of the question [source: Michals].