APS News

APS Establishes M. Hildred Blewett Scholarship for Women in Physics

M. Hildred BlewettHildred Blewett, in the days when a computer was a person, not a machine.

APS Announces Formation of Bequest Society

Over the years, many APS members have thoughtfully included the American Physical Society in their bequest intentions. These generous gifts help provide needed funding for key Society programs and initiatives that our physics community has launched and strengthened since the Society's founding in 1899.

In recognition of individuals and families remembering the Society in their charitable estate plans, APS is pleased to announce the formation of a Bequest Society. The development of this Society is intended to thank past and current donors and encourage others to consider making such a gift through their will. With the permission of donors, APS will honor these individuals in publications of the Society and through other Development office means.

Gifts from one's estate can be made in an unrestricted manner, for use by the Society as it deems appropriate, or designated to a particular program or activity. These gifts may take the form of a percentage of the estate or a fixed dollar amount. As APS is a 501(c) (3) organization, these gifts can provide significant estate tax savings.

The American Physical Society invites those who have made arrangements for a contribution to APS through their will to become charter members of the Bequest Society by contacting Darlene Logan, Director of Development, using the contact information below. In addition, individuals considering a designated gift are encouraged to discuss the terms and wording of the gift with the Development office to assure that their future intentions can be carried out exactly as they wish.

The American Physical Society is extremely grateful to past and future donors who remember the Society in their legacy plans and we look forward to being able to provide appropriate tribute to them through this new Bequest Society.

For further information, please contact:
Darlene Logan
Director of Development
American Physical Society
One Physics Ellipse
College Park, MD 20740-3844

The APS has been designated the primary beneficiary of a bequest of over $1 million from M. Hildred Blewett, an accelerator physicist who died in June. Blewett left nearly everything she had to APS for a scholarship for women in physics.

The scholarship will be known as the M. Hildred Blewett Annual Scholarship for Women in Physics. Eligible candidates will be women who have had to give up doing research for a time but would like to resume their careers, women who wish to change the area of their work, and recent postgraduates who are in their first academic position and need financial support to establish themselves. Additional information will be available in 2005 when APS solicits applications for the first scholarship.

While signing the will shortly before she died, Blewett said, "Everything I have came from physics, so everything has to go back to physics," recalled Frank Malinka, Blewett's financial advisor.

Blewett was born in Ontario on May 28, 1911. She began her career in physics working at General Electric in Schenectady, New York, in the 1940s, where she developed a method of controlling the pollution from smoke from factory chimneys. In 1947 she and her then husband, John Blewett, were among the original team members at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Hildred Blewett later worked at Argonne National Laboratory, and then at CERN. She retired from CERN in 1977 and moved to England and then, in 1990, to Vancouver, British Columbia. She died June 13, 2004, at age 93.

Blewett had always been good at mathematics and physics, said her brother, Talmage Hunt. Her father, an engineer who became a minister, supported her interests.

Few women went into physics at the time, and those who did often faced discrimination, but Blewett was a strong woman who always did what she wanted to do, said Hunt. But she felt she was being kept down in her career because she was a woman, and this feeling may have been one of the reasons she wanted to set up a scholarship specifically for women, said Hunt.

Another factor that may have influenced her decision was that at one point she had to take a year off from college because she didn't have enough money, said Malinka. "She didn't have any money to keep going to school, and she had to discontinue her studies, which was her absolute passion. So she would like to see that that doesn't happen to women these days," said Malinka.

Having grown up with little money, Blewett always accounted for her every penny, and lived modestly throughout her life. "Until the time she died she could tell you exactly how much change she had in her purse," said Hunt.

Though she was married for some time to John Blewett, another accelerator physicist, the pair divorced in the 1960s, and Hildred Blewett never remarried or had children.

Aside from physics, she loved traveling, opera, and reading. "She was an avid reader, even after losing most of her eyesight. She had to read large print books. She would read a couple dozen books a month," said Hunt. In her will, Blewett also left about $20,000 to the Vancouver Public Library Outreach Service, which delivered boxes of books to her home each month.

Blewett left the rest of her money to APS. "She really felt that what she had should go back to physics. It was really important to her," said Malinka.

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Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette