Jessie Yearance Cann


First woman to gain a Phd in Chemistry at Columbia.

She was born in Newark to Frank (Newark alderman) and Fanny Cann and a 1901 graduate of Newark High. She graduated Goucher College and became a science teacher at Belleville High. Her obituary stated she also taught at Newark schools.

In 1911 Cann became head of the chemistry department at Rockford College, IL and then in 1914 an instructor at University of Illinois.

She taught at Smith College for 34 years from 1918-1952 and was briefly head of the department.

In 1940 she was listed on the census at the family house on Brunswick St in Newark, listed a professor. After retirement, she moved to Millburn. She is buried in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery.

The Star Ledger stated she was “a descendant of Newark’s first settlers.”


Newark Girl At Columbia wins Chemistry Phd Star Jun 7, 1911

Dr. Jessie Cann, 80 Professor at Smith, New York Times Feb 21, 1964

“Dr. Jessie Y Cann, 80 Professor of Chemistry” Star Ledger Feb 21, 1964