Scientist and ornithologist Edith Rhoda Force was born in Chicago, Illinois, on October 26, 1890, to Estella and James Grant Force. From 1910 to 1912 she attended Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. In 1919 she received a bachelor's degree from Lewis Institute, Chicago, and in 1931 a master's degree from the University of Michigan. After stints of teaching in Oak Park, Illinois, Beatrice, Nebraska, Denton, Texas, and Okmulgee, Oklahoma, she moved in 1926 to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she became a general science teacher at Woodrow Wilson Junior High School until her retirement in 1956. In 1949 she married David Oscar Kassing.
Edith Kassing's enthusiasm for natural science was contagious and inspired many of her students to go into a science career. To her students she emphasized the study of animals in the field. She conducted research on the fauna and flora of northeastern Oklahoma, publishing on ornithology and herpetology, especially the three small snakes (the lined, flat-headed, and ground) of the Tulsa area. Kassing contributed her outstanding collection of these and other species to many major museums in the United States.
As a founding member of the Tulsa Audubon Society she was made an honorary life member in 1965. In 1937 she published a Bibliography of Oklahoma Ornithology. She joined the Oklahoma Academy of Science in 1924 and later became a Fellow of that organization. As chair of the High School Relations Committee of the Oklahoma Academy of Science, she was instrumental in forming the Association of Science Students of the Academy, which became Oklahoma Junior Academy of Science. Kassing was also a research associate with the Oklahoma Biological Survey. She died on August 8, 1966, in Edmond, Oklahoma.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Charles C. Carpenter, Early Oklahoma Naturalists and Collectors, Occasional Papers, Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History (Norman: University of Oklahoma, 2000). C. A. Levengood, "In Memoriam: Edith Force Kassing, 1890-1966," Proceedings of the Oklahoma Academy of Science 47 (1968). J. T. Self, "A History of the Oklahoma Academy of Science," Proceedings of the Oklahoma Academy of Science 61 (1981). John S. Tomer, "Edith Force Kassing: Scientist With a Gift for Teaching," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 63 (Winter 1985-86).
Charles C. Carpenter
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