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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

BROWN, MARY JANE (1895–1976).

In 1929 Mary Jane Brown, the daughter of Marion Lee and Lourena Baughman Brown, became the first woman to earn a doctorate at the University of Oklahoma (OU). A zoology student, Brown entitled her dissertation "Comparative Studies in the Animal Ecology of Oak Hickory Forests in Missouri and Oklahoma." While attending OU, she taught biology at the Oklahoma College for Women (now University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma) in Chickasha. Born on October 14, 1895, in Indiana, Brown attended a one-room country school. Receiving a bachelor's degree from Butler University, Indianapolis, and a master's degree from Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, she also studied at the University of Chicago and at the biological laboratories at Woods Hole, Cold Springs Harbor, and Puget Sound.

Brown taught at several colleges and universities, including thirteen years at the University of Wyoming. She wrote An Introduction to Eugenics (1935) and A Scientific Vocabulary for Beginning Zoology Students and Non-Scientific Students (1957), as well as travel memoirs. During World War II she served as a private doing medical work in the Women's Army Corps (WAC). Brown returned to Indiana and taught at Oakland City College from 1957 to 1961. After retiring from teaching, she conducted leukemia research at the Indiana Medical Center before her death in September 1976 in Indianapolis.

Meghan Iman Attalla


Mary Jane Brown, American Panorama: The Memoirs of a Peripatetic Midwesterner (New York: Exposition Press, 1962).

Durwood Howes, ed., American Women: The Official Who's Who Among the Women of the Nation, Vol. 2, 1937–38 (Los Angeles: American Publications, Inc., 1937).

Sooner Magazine, The Oklahoma Alumni News 1 (July 1929).

Donald E. Thompson, Indiana Authors and Their Books, 1917–1966 (Crawfordsville, Ind.: Wabash College, 1974).

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The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Meghan Iman Attalla, “Brown, Mary Jane,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=BR026.

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