and civic leader, Dr. Platt became Pacific Grove's first female
mayor in 1932.
Julia Barlow Platt was born on September 14, 1857 in San Francisco.
Her nine years of graduate studies in zoology began in 1887 at
Harvard University, where she specialized in embryology. She
did groundbreaking research in neurobiology and comparative embryology
at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Bryn Mawr
College, the University of Chicago, and Radcliffe College. She
also studied at Hopkins Marine Station (then located at Lovers
Point) in the early 1890s. She continued her doctoral studies
at several German universities, and received her Ph.D. diploma
in May 1898. Platt published 12 scientific papers in 10 years.
Despite her excellent
credentials, Dr. Platt could not find a suitable academic position.
She returned to Pacific Grove, and in 1899 wrote, "Without
work, life is not worth living. If I cannot obtain the work I
wish, then I must take up with the next best."
The work she
found was civic duty in Pacific Grove. She shot her neighbor's
chickens after they ran rampant through her garden, and then
saw to it that a zoning ordinance was passed limiting livestock
to certain areas. She also singlehandedly cleared and planted
around Lovers Point, and led the successful movement that gave
Pacific Grove a city council/city manager form of government.
The original City Charter is in her handwriting. Perhaps Dr.
Platt is best know locally for using file, sledgehammer, and
axe to remove the spite fence that blocked public access to the
beach near Lovers Point. In 1931, at age 74, she became the first
female mayor of Pacific Grove.
top--Detail from photo of Marine Biological Laboratory shows
Julia Platt among investigators at Woods Hole, Massachusetts
Platt reenacts her destruction of the bathhouse gate for a local
page showing her Julia Platt impersonations.
Scientific Meeting of the Julia
B. Platt Club
(Steven J. Zottoli and Ernst-August Seyfarth).
in the online PGMNH Chautauqua Years exhibit.
Abstract from article, "Julia B. Platt
(1857-1935): pioneer comparative embryologist and neuroscientist"
by SJ Zottoli and EA Seyfarth in Brain, Behavior, and Evolution