Women as amanuenses have played an important role in early British geology. Among their varied tasks often was the sketching and drawing of fossils, landscape and outcrops.

Such drawings served several purposes. They were used to give an idea of landscape and outcrops in publications or to figure new species in palaeontological papers, but they also served as proxies for individual fossils in dialogues conducted by means of letters. Mary Anning used them to advertise new finds to potential buyers, while Mary Buckland painted huge displays to be used in her husband's lectures. Drawing was part of the education of ‘accomplished’ British women in the early nineteenth century. Like music, embroidery and dancing, drawing was often taught in special schools or academies, sometimes by quite competent artists. Other women, however, such as Mrs Mantell, were self-taught or had to familiarise themselves with new techniques, learning to do line engravings and how to make lithographs in order to illustrate her husband's books more cheaply.

In Germany or France, by comparison, the ability to draw was less central to girls' education, who in Germany at least were expected instead to excel in cooking, knitting and other household duties. But even there, an amateur palaeontologist might fall back on the assistance of his daughter, when he needed someone to illustrate his letters with drawings of specimens.

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