Pittsburgh’s Radium Rescued Marie Curie’s Research


One hundred years ago, in May 1921, the most famous female scientist in the world, Marie Curie, made the initial visit of only two she took to the United States. She came to receive a desperately needed donation of one gram of radium to assist her ongoing research, a gift worth over $100,000 and funded by the women of the United States. A key stop in the journey was at the end of May in Pittsburgh, her only trip ever made to Western Pennsylvania. She visited the Standard Chemical Company, the world’s largest radium producer, that processed carnotite ore mined in Southwestern Colorado to make her precious one-gram sample. Were it not for Pittsburgh’s radium processing and one journalist’s ability to summon the fundraising power of American women, Curie would not have been able to continue her groundbreaking research with the element.

The Historical Society retains the right to reprint articles in any format or media, and retains the right to grant that permission to others.