Episode Description

Christine Essenberg had an unusual life and an unusual career trajectory. She was married, then divorced, and earned her PhD in zoology from University of California, Berkeley at age 41. She went on to become one of the early researchers at what is now The Scripps Institution of Oceanography. We know the story of Christine Essenberg only because of a serendipitous find. Host Katie Hafner, searching in an archive jammed with the papers of male scientists, came across a slim folder, "Folder 29", in the back of a box at UC San Diego Special Collections & Archives. Just eight pages as a jumping-off point to flesh out a life, which raises the question: How many other unknown women scientists are out there, hidden away in boxes? This is the story of Christine Essenberg's own journey from researcher to teacher. It’s the first discovery of what we’re calling The Folder 29 Project, a research initiative to uncover the work of lost women of science, hidden in the archives of universities across the country.



  • Katie Hafner
  • Claire Trageser


  • Claire Trageser (producer)
  • Barbara Howard (senior producer)
  • Dominique Janee (associate producer)


The Folder 29 Project

Our episode on Christine Essenberg is the inspiration for the Folder 29 Project. We know the story of Essenberg only because of a serendipitous find in a box jammed with the papers of male scientists at UC San Diego Special Collections & Archives. There were eight pages of Essenberg’s correspondence in Folder 29.

Our goal is to embark on archeological digs to find female scientists that are buried in the archives of colleges and universities across the country. This is a crowdsourcing effort to uncover their stories and rescue them from obscurity.

If you or your school want to be part of the Folder 29 Project please get in touch at admin@lostwomenofscience.org.

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