2:4: “Natural Limitations”, by Marissa K. Lingen

2:4: “Natural Limitations”, by Marissa K. Lingen

4 April 1876

Dear Mr. Putnam and Miss Catherine:

I hope this letter finds all things well with your esteemed household. We were quite glad to add Miss Catherine’s measurement of the period of 28 Pegasus to our confirmation of the results of Mr. Frederic Bellyer of Anglica, Pennsylvania. We are sure that the patience and diligence you showed in this work, Miss Catherine, will make you a most excellent wife for a lucky young man someday.

As for you, Mr. Putnam, you should be doubly proud of the intellectual guidance and supervision you have provided for your daughter, overcoming her natural handicaps in this most masculine of pursuits. We at the AAS maintain a sincere hope that your foresight and Miss Catherine’s hard work will continue to bring about solid results for the astronomical community.

Yours cordially,
Enoch R. Joy
President, American Astronomical Society

———•———

16 May 1876

My dear Mr. Putnam and Miss Catherine:

Congratulations to you both! As soon as we received your report of the comet, we sent the secretary of the society, Mr. Andrews Pritchett, to check the heading you gave. Upon his confirmation, we have dubbed this heavenly object the Pritchett-Putnam Comet. While it is a somewhat diminutive light for such a cumbersome moniker, we feel that its symbolic value is clear enough. What a wonderful occasion!

Your last letter, Mr. Putnam, was clearly far too modest. It does not diminish your daughter’s work to acknowledge that you are the guiding hand and steady mind behind it. Indeed, if it was not for her keen young eyesight, we may never have seen this comet at all. But there is also no harm in acknowledging her God-given feminine limitations. May our Lord bless this most fortuitous of family combinations!

Most cordially yours,
Enoch R. Joy
Pres., A.A.S.

———•———

12 July 1876

My dear Mr. Putnam,

I was quite saddened to receive your daughter’s last letter. My heart goes out to your family in this time of trial. I fear we have here a demonstration of why ladies are really not suited for work in the damp night air. It is just too bad. I hope that Miss Catherine has retained enough of her scattered wits not to distress you and her loving mother by prattling in company of this sky-chariot. I have wondered if the disturbance in her thoughts was conflated with the joyous celebration of our nation’s centennial to produce such extravagant delusions. At any rate, our prayers are with you.

In heartfelt concern,
Enoch R. Joy
Pres., A.A.S.

———•———

18 August 1876

My dear Mr. Putnam,

And so it grows worse. I want you to know that the A.A.S. does not in any way hold your family responsible for the disappearance of our dear young secretary, Andrews Pritchett. If only Miss Catherine could be persuaded to give up her claims of knowledge of his whereabouts! It is, of course, a sign of her increasingly disturbed state. A tragedy, really, on both counts. I pray for the safe return of Mr. Pritchett, as well as Miss Catherine’s speedy recovery.

With a heavy heart,
Enoch R. Joy
Pres., A.A.S.

———•———

2 September 1876

Mr. Putnam:

I suggest you consult a physician, sir. In any case, the Society is not interested in attempting to replicate the sky-carriage of your daughter’s letters, nor do we believe that doing so would retrieve either Miss Catherine or Mr. Pritchett. That you should even suggest such a thing indicates the depth of your grief and concern over Miss Catherine’s disappearance. I pray for your return to health; in the meantime, please do not contact this institute unless you have genuine astronomical data.

Sincerely,
Enoch R. Joy
Pres., A.A.S.



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