How Did Marie Curie Attend College?

The world is a much better place thanks to the women who fought for equal rights. Back in the day, women were not allowed to vote, or even go to school. So how did the great minds of their generation get the proper education they needed?

Marie Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the first person to win the prize twice could not attend college because of her gender. She continued her studies through a secret organization called the Flying University instead.

Who is Marie Curie?

Maria Salomea Sklodowska Curie was born in Warsaw, Poland in November 7, 1867. She was the youngest of 5 children. Due to the loss of properties and wealth of her family, the siblings had struggled to get ahead. Luckily, their paternal grandfather Józef Sklodowski was the principal of the Lubin Primary School. (Source: Gwiazda Polarna)

At the age of 10, she attended the Boarding School of J. Sikorska and moved to a gymnasium for girls. She graduated in June 12, 1983 and was also awarded a gold medal. (Source: Gwiazda Polarna)

Her goal was to enroll in the University Warsaw but they refused to admit women into the institution during that time. Instead, she got involved with the Flying University. (Source: Open Culture)

At 1890, a Polish physician invited Marie to join her and her husband in Paris. She declined because she did not have enough funds for the tuition. Her father helped her save up. During this time she continued to educate herself by reading books and studying with the Flying University.

What is the Flying University?

The Flying University is an underground educational enterprise operated in Warsaw, Poland from 1885 up until 1905. The main goal of the institution is to provide Polish youths an equal opportunity for education regardless of gender.

They were only able to legalize operations by 1905 to 1906 and changed their name to the Society of Science Courses. (Source: God’s Playground: A History of Poland)

Marie’s Life in Paris

By 1891, she left Poland and moved to Paris. She briefly stayed with her sister until she found a space closer to the University. She began her career in science by studying the magnetic properties of various steels.

In the same year, she had met Pierre Curie. They had both been quite interested in Natural Sciences. This mutual passion brought them incredibly close that they developed feelings for each other, and Pierre proposed. Marie initially did not accept the proposal, but he convinced her that he was ready to move to Poland with her. They were married in Sceaux by July 26, 1895. She wore a dark blue outfit rather than a typical bridal gown, and the two did not care for any religious ceremonies.

Marie Curie’s Legacy

Thanks to Curie’s discoveries, we enjoy a lot of technology we have today. Her contributions to the sciences helped shape the 20th century. (Source: Curie, Pierre and Marie)

She won the Nobel Prize in Physics and Chemistry, and is the only person who was able to do so in two different fields of science. (Source: Curie, Pierre and Marie)

The effects of radiation were not evident at the time. She would often carry radioactive isotopes around in her pocket and would even store them in her desk drawer. She developed aplastic anemia due to her long-term exposure and passed away in July 4, 1934 at the age of 66. (Source: Marie Curie: Honesty in Science)

8 thoughts on “How Did Marie Curie Attend College?”

  1. Why_So_Slow

    On top of that – her daughter, Irène Joliot-Curie, received Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1935 for the discovery of artificial radioactivity, and her second daughter Ève Curie, worked for UNICEF while the organisation was awarded Nobel Peace Prize.

    Her grand-children, Hélène Langevin-Joliot and Pierre Joliot-Curie, are both high profile, renown scientists.

    Just in case somebody is looking for a role model 😉

  2. KleszczTentes

    Marie Skłodowska Curie, that’s her full name. If you just use Marie Curie, people confuse her for a French

  3. dw_jb

    Incredible woman I think she died of radiation poisoning ultimately, but not before indirectly saving many lives with X-rays

  4. DryMartiniPlease

    Just amazing… a person to admire!!

  5. Blowfish1

    At first the Nobel price were intended for her husband and she would be accredited as an “assistant“

    Her husband then wrote to the Nobel committee and protested, stating that she had been as involved if not more in the work.

  6. LaddiusMaximus

    Can you imagine how much more these people would have accomplished in a free and open society? Illegal for her to attend college? FFS.

  7. poopedinapumpkin

    She is a fascinating person who helped change our lives through her discoveries. She and her husband, Pierre, discovered the elements polonium and radium. Together, they were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903, and she received another one, for Chemistry, in 1911. Ironically and unfortunately, her work with radioactive materials doomed her, however. She died of a blood disease caused by radiation in 1934.

Leave a Comment