Sophie Bledsoe Aberle

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Sophie Bledsoe Aberle
Dr. Sophie Aberle 1982.jpg
Aberle in her New Mexico home, 1982
Born(1896-07-21)July 21, 1896
DiedOctober 1996 (aged 100)
Known forWork with Pueblo people

Sophie Bledsoe Aberle (née Herrick; July 21, 1896 – October 1996) was an American anthropologist, physician and nutritionist known for her work with Pueblo people. She was one of two women first appointed to the National Science Board.

Early life and education[edit]

Sophie Bledsoe Herrick was born in 1896 to Albert and Clara S. Herrick in Schenectady, New York. Her paternal grandmother and namesake was the writer Sophia Bledsoe Herrick. Sophie was educated at home and had a brief marriage at age 21 that gave her the surname of Aberle.[1][2]

Aberle started to attend University of California in Berkeley but switched to Stanford University, earning a bachelor's degree in 1923,[2] a master's degree in 1925, and a Ph.D. in genetics in 1927. She then attended medical school, earning an M.D. from Yale University in 1930. While a student, she worked as an assistant histologist, embryologist, and neurologist, and as an anthropology instructor.[3][4]

Career and research[edit]

Though she began her career with a 4-year stint as an instructor at Yale, Aberle spent most of her career working in Native American areas. She was employed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs from 1935 to 1944, then took a position with National Research Council until 1949, and from 1949 to 1954 at the University of New Mexico.[4][5] In 1948, her first major book was published, which placed Aberle as a strong proponent of Pueblo land rights.[4]

She and Gerty Cori were the first women appointed to the National Science Board by President Harry Truman in 1951.[6] Aberle remained a member until 1957. She worked for the Bernalillo County Indian Hospital as its chief nutritionist until 1966 when she returned to the University of New Mexico as a professor of psychiatry, a position she maintained until her 1970 retirement.[4]

Professional service[edit]

Aberle spent much of her career working on committees for land allocation and health. She was a member of the upper Rio Grande drainage basin committee, the health committee of the All Indian Pueblo Council, the New Mexico Nutrition Committee, the White House Conference on Children in Democracy, the Committee of Maternal and Infant Mortality, Planned Parenthood, and was the chair of the board of directors for the Southwest Field Training School for Federal Service and the Commission on Rights, Liberties, and Responsibilities of American Indians.[3][4]

Professional memberships[edit]


  • The Pueblo Indians of New Mexico, Their Land, Economy and Civil Organization
  • The Indian: America's Unfinished Business


  1. ^ Ferris, Kathlene (1997). Sophie D. Aberle and the United Pueblos Agency, 1935-1944 (M. A. thesis). University of New Mexico.
  2. ^ a b "Aberle, Sophie D., 1899- @ SNAC". Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  3. ^ a b Bailey, Martha J. (1994). American Women in Science. ABC-CLIO, Inc. ISBN 0-87436-740-9.
  4. ^ a b c d e Wayne, Tiffany K. (1 January 2011). American Women of Science Since 1900. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781598841589.
  5. ^ Marilyn Ogilvie and Joy Harvey, eds. (2000). The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science. Great Britain: Routledge. p. 6. ISBN 0-415-92038-8. Retrieved 15 April 2011.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  6. ^ National Science Foundation. "A Timeline of NSF History". Retrieved 16 April 2011.

External links[edit]