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A historical photograph of the Curie statue before it was dedicated in the Polish Cultural Garden.Maria Sklodowska Curie: (1867-1934) Polish Physicist and Chemist

Maria Sklodowska Curie was born on November 7, 1867 in Warsaw, Poland.  She is best known for her research and development of radioactivity and the first woman to win a Nobel prize.  (Chew, Robin)

Throughout her childhood, Curie found fascination with mathematics and physics.  Her profound memory allowed her to win a Gold medal after completing her secondary education at the Russian lyceé.  Due to her father’s financial mishaps, she had to work and therefore, became a teacher.  While teaching, she secretly participated in the nationalist “free university”, by which she read to Polish women workers.  (The Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th Edition, p. 799)

In 1891, she left to Paris and began studying at the Sorbonne.  In Paris, she met Pierre Curie, who taught physics at the University of Paris.  “Their marriage was the start of a partnership that was soon to achieve results of world significance, in particular the discovery of polonium in the summer of 1898, and that of radium a few months later.” After her husband’s death, she devoted all of her energy to continuing their works and soon became the first woman to teach at the Sorbonne. (The Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th Edition, p. 799)

Curie’s findings led her to gain several achievements, most notably the Nobel Prize for physics.  During her lifetime, she was able to witness the establishment of the Curie Foundation in Paris and the Radium Institute in Warsaw.   Curie died of leukemia as a result radiation in 1934. (Chew, Robin)

“The Curie bust is the work of Frank L. Jirouch, and was dedicated on June 5, 1949. Mayor Thomas A. Burke, in accepting it for the city, cited Cleveland as an example to the world that various racial groups can live in peace and friendship.” (Lederer, Clara.  Their Paths Are Peace: The Story of Cleveland’s Cultural Gardens. p. 84).


Bust of Curie

Closer view of the Bust of Curie

Photographs of the Garden

Further Reading:

Chew, Robin

Marie Curie and the Science of Radioactivity

Marie Curie Fellowship Association

The Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th Edition, Vol. 3, p. 798-799.

Sanford, George and Adriana Gozdecka-Sanford.  Historical Dictionary of Poland.  Metuchen, New Jersey: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., p.54, 1994.