Herstory Thursdays: Joan Beauchamp Procter

Born in 1897, Joan Proctor's health issues kept her from attending university but did not stop her from owning various reptiles as pets. In 1916, at age 19, she presented her first paper to the Zoological Society of London and shortly thereafter became a Fellow at the society. 

In 1917, Joan began working as an assistant for the British Museum and a few short years later, she took up the mantle of the the London Zoo's curator of reptiles. She also discovered a species from Australia  - the Peninsula Dragon Lizard. 

Joan became known at first as a novelty because she was a tiny woman who held snakes and other reptiles, but over time, she became known as a genius and an expert herpetologist. 

In 1926, Joan Proctor helped design the London Zoo's reptile house with it's architect, and it is still being used to house reptiles today. She became recognized as an excellent veterinarian and all of the reptiles under her cared lived longer and healthier than they ever had. 

In 1931, after battling her chronic health issues for many year, Joan Beauchamp Proctor succumbed to her illness. Her mark on the London Zoo however, is still there to this day. 

A few short months before her death, in March of 1931, the University of Chicago honored Joan Proctor with an honorary Doctorate in Science for her numerous publications and work throughout the years. Additionally, she has had several animal species named in her honor - a type of snake and a type of tortoise. 

Joan Beauchamp Proctor battled illness and stereotypes almost all of her life but she persisted and continued to work on something she loved. She had help along the way from her mentors and people who supported her and ultimately she followed her passions. 




Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky