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Josephine Rich

Zoologist (1866-1940)

Josephine Rich does not appear to have graduated from university, despite topping her first year exams.1 This may be because she was home schooled, which would have meant she could attend classes but was not eligible for graduation. At the University of Otago Rich met Professor Parker, who taught biology and was also curator of the Otago Museum. Parker promoted original research as part of postgraduate study, but the academic environment was such that he managed to supervise only a few postgraduate students – and Rich was the only student who co-wrote a paper with him. This research, on the muscle structure of the New Zealand crayfish, was read before the Otago Institute in 1892 and published the next year in the New South Wales Linnean Society.2 In 1894, Rich married Parker’s collaborator William Halswell and moved to Australia. She continued academically in the assistance she gave her husband in his work.3

Image: A close up of Plate XVII of the New Zealand crayfish. Source: Rich Pickings: The Intellectual Life of Josephine Gordon Rich (1866-1940)


1. Rosi Crane, ‘Rich Pickings: The Intellectual Life of Josephine Gordon Rich (1866-1940)’, The Journal of New Zealand Studies, no. 24 (2017).

2. Observations on the Myology of Palinurus, 1893, http://archive.org/details/cbarchive_35999_observationsonthemyologyofpali1893.

3. Mary R. S. Creese and Thomas M. Creese, Ladies in the Laboratory III: South African, Australian, New Zealand, and Canadian Women in Science: Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries (Scarecrow Press, 2010), p. 108.

This profile is part of the series 150 Women in 150 Words that celebrates women’s contributions to expanding knowledge in New Zealand, running as part of our 150th Anniversary.