[Many thanks to Carmen Centeno Añeses for bringing this item to our attention.] In “El tesoro de una científica rebelde” [The Treasure of a Rebellious Scientist], Eliván Martínez Mercado (Centro de Periodismo Investigativo) writes about the little attention given to Puerto Rican writer, educator, and suffragist, Ana Roqué de Duprey, underlining the importance of her unpublished manuscript, Botánica antillana. I was familiar with Ana Roqué because my co-blogger, Lisa, had published an annotated edition of her epistolary novel Luz y sombra in 1994. But little did I know that she had such keen interest in botany.
Martínez writes that Roqué had worked for almost 30 years on Botánica antillana, her book on plants and trees, which would have made of her one of the most important popularizers of science in the Caribbean. But her work was underappreciated by Carlos E. Chardón, one of the leading male scientific authorities of the early twentieth century. The article underlines how, although the educator outwardly supported her work, Chardón delayed the publication process, on two occasions sending her back to change scientific names and other details. She died without seeing the publication of her labor of love.
Presently, Dr. Jorge Carlos Trejo, a botanist, is working to digitize, transcribe, annotate and publish the final manuscript of Botánica antillana.
Martínez stresses that the manuscripts, organized in 30 lined notebooks, were relevant then and are relevant now, because “they reveal knowledge that can strengthen a neglected agriculture, like that of Puerto Rico, which imports 85% of its food from abroad.” Botánica antillana lists over 6,000 species of plants and trees in the Caribbean and it includes Roqué’s own illustrations.
The article offers a fascinating and detailed account of Roqué’s life, her educational and professional trajectory, and the historical context in which she worked so tirelessly.
I highly recommend reading the full article (in Spanish), which you can access through http://periodismoinvestigativo.com/2015/02/el-tesoro-de-una-cientifica-rebelde/