One of my goals this year is to blog more consistently. I’ve been failing on that front, especially with Her’s Day Thursday posts. I wanted to blog each week about a woman from every state in the U.S. So far this year I’ve hit Alabama and Alaska. Today, I’m getting back on the BAMF blogging wagon and telling you all about a great lady from Arizona: Jane H. Rider!
Jane H. Rider was born in 1889 to a homemaker mother and mining engineer father. From an early age, Jane was very interested in her father’s work. Her parents put education as a top priority and Jane was able to attend a private high school, later attending the University of Arizona. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in civil engineering—Arizona’s first female engineer.
Her first position as a college graduate was as a bacteriologist for Arizona State Laboratories at the university she graduated from. She moved up the ladder, eventually becoming director of the lab in 1918! Her work included conducting surveys and investigations of the milk and water supplies throughout the state of Arizona. She’d collect samples by train, stagecoach, and even on horseback!
In a newspaper interview in 1966, Jane said this about her work: “In 1913, Arizona had the second highest infant mortality rate in the nation and a good share of the blame went to unsanitary milk,” she recalled in a newspaper interview in 1966. “Do you know what a ‘dobe hole is? When people built their adobe houses they dug the material out of the ground and left the hole. They let this fill with water to water their cattle. Then cows, on hot days, would stand in the ‘dobe hole. Then milking time came but the hossies were not washed off before they were milked, and the dirt and stagnant water got in the buckets.”
Jane pushed for changes in the dairy industry, leading milk producers to pasteurize milk. She also tested foods and medicines for harmful products and worked to improve food products (and this was in the early 1900’s!).
Throughout her career, Jane received many awards and honors. She was accepted into the American Society of Civil Engineers, the National Society of Women Engineers, Distinguished Citizen Award from the University of Arizona, and Phoenix Woman of the Year in 1970.
Jane H. Rider was a force to be reckoned with up until her death in 1981, fighting for cleaner water, food, and sanitary working conditions. A wonderful woman with a remarkable legacy!