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February 2024
1min read


Fashionable and intent, Anne Gertrude Coonan, in her early twenties and barely out of her first job, appears to be a trained scientist in this turn-of-the-century photograph. Suzanne Good explains her mother’s hands-on job: “Upon graduating from Haverstraw [New York] High School, Anne took a course in speedwriting and obtained a secretarial job, which she soon left for work at Lederle Laboratories in Nanuet. She took the train from Haverstraw to Pearl River, where the company horse and buggy met and transported her to the laboratory. She worked with raw smallpox vaccine and one day accidentally vaccinated herself when some of the fluid came in contact with an open cut on her finger.”

This brush with microbes evidently didn’t sour Anne on the biological sciences. She moved to New York City, where she assisted George A. Soper, author of the 1908 volume The Air and Ventilation of Subways . But from there, her daughter writes, the intrepid Anne Coonan “opened her own tearoom in the Wall Street area, which became a successful venture. While commuting on the West Shore Railroad from Haverstraw to the city, she met another commuter, Everett Coutant, and in 1916 Anne sold the tearoom and got married.”

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