Carlotta Maury (1874-1938) was a paleontologist who specialized in Tertiary mollusks. She was involved in confidential explorations for the oil industry as well as teaching and museum work. This paper—the first of a two-part biographical narrative—traces her educational background and the earlier part of her career. She was born into a family with significant scientific interests and accomplishments. Influenced by the educator Elizabeth Agassiz, Maury attended Cornell University, where despite different academic programs designed to prepare women for occupations considered suitable for them, and the prejudice of male faculty, she obtained a PhD. Her mentor was the paleontologist Gilbert Harris. Women's difficulties in gaining acceptance in fieldwork with men and academic advancement are explored. Maury's failure to be promoted at Barnard College led her to accept a position at a college in South Africa. By 1918, expeditions there, in New York, Louisiana, Trinidad, and one that she led to Santo Domingo had resulted in several publications.

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