Women’s History Month: Evelyn Tilden

Women’s History Month: Evelyn Tilden

This month the Markus Library remembers lesser-known women scientists at The Rockefeller University

Evelyn Tilden

Women scientists at The Rockefeller University

Evelyn Butler Tilden poses with a microscope at the National Institutes of Health, 1940

Evelyn Butler Tilden (1891 – 1983) was an American microbiologist who researched rare carbohydrates, oral bacteria, fungal endotoxins, and animal infections.

Tilden was born on March 28, 1891, in Lawrence, Massachusetts to Harriette (née Butler) and Howard Benjamin Tilden. She completed an A.B. at Brown University in 1913 and three years later, in 1916, took a position at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research. While working with Hideyo Noguchi, a renowned tropical disease specialist, as his editor, she quickly became a laboratory technician and developed a technique for the routine diagnosis of syphilis in 1922. With Noguchi, Tilden worked on trachoma, finding that Bacterium granulosis was still a potent infector after a year or more of dormancy. When Noguchi died in 1928, she helped finish his work showing that Oroya fever and verruga peruviana are the same diseases.

During her time at the Rockefeller Institute, she earned an M.S. (1926) and Ph.D. (1929) at Columbia University. Her dissertation, co-authored with Edgar G. Miller Jr., was titled The Response of the Monkey (Macacus rhesus) to Withdrawal of Vitamin A from the Diet.

After one year of teaching at Colorado State University, Tilden joined the NIH Division of Chemistry in 1937 where she discovered how to prepare rare sugars from avocados. In 1942, she left to become a professor at the Northwestern University Dental School, where she was funded by NIH for work on bacteria in saliva. In 1948, she published a textbook Outline of Bacteriology.

In 1954, Dr. Tilden began working at the Brookfield Zoo as a microbiologist and eventually cured a fungal disease in penguins kept in captivity. She remained there as an emeritus after her retirement.

By |2022-03-28T15:18:36+00:00March 24th, 2022|Categories: History of Science, Library Blog, Microbiology|Tags: , , , |Comments Off on Women’s History Month: Evelyn Tilden

About the Author:

Olga Stepanek, MLS, Special Collections and Operations Librarian - As a member of the Markus Library team since 2001, Olga provides user assistance, circulation support, collection management, and user instruction on library services and recourses. She organizes library outreach events and is a primary coordinator in designing library promotional materials. Olga is responsible for acquiring, managing, and caring for additions to the special collection of rare and valuable books, photographs, historical newsletters, and other unique RU publications, digitizing materials to the University’s Digital Repository, and making them available to researchers. As library liaison to the Development Office, Communications and Public Affairs, the Rockefeller Archive Center, Olga designs and creates exhibits and displays in the library and elsewhere on campus. A librarian with almost 30 years of experience in public and academic libraries, Olga received Bachelor of Library Science Degree from St. Petersburg State Academy of Culture (St. Petersburg, Russia) and Master’s Degree in Library Science from The Graduate School of Library and Information Studies, Queens College. A volunteer of several charities, U.S. – and Russia –based, Olga helps to raise funds for children with cancer and special needs.