Wonderful Women Wednesday: Dr. Jean Milton Berdan

Each week, the Archives features a woman who has been a groundbreaker at the Smithsonian, past or present, in a series titled Wonderful Women Wednesday.

Dr. Jean Milton Berdan was a geologist with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and a research associate with the department of paleobiology at the National Museum of Natural History. She specialized in Ordovician, Silurian, and Devonian ostracodes and stratigraphy.

Berdan initially joined the USGS in 1942 with the water resources division before transferring, in 1949, to the paleontology and stratigraphy branch, where she remained throughout her career. Berdan was appointed scientist emeritus at the USGS in 1991. She served the Smithsonian as a research associate from the early 1960s to the 1990s.  

Berdan earned her Ph.D in geology from Yale University in 1949. She also held a master’s degree from Yale University and a bachelor’s degree from Vassar College. 

A woman sits and poses for a photograph. She isn't really smiling, Her hands are crossed on her lap.

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