Thursday, June 02, 2016

An Unusual (But Cool) Lady

                                       Frances Glessner Lee

"A man's gift makes room for him and brings him before great men."   ... Proverbs 18:16


Over the weekend Tom and I Netflixed an episode of Mysteries At The Museum (a fascinating show, imo) and one story about a middle-aged spinster heiress inspired us.

See, her name was Frances Glessner Lee, she was born into wealth in 1878 and she wanted to attend college, but her family forbade it. As a woman of means back then, her options for outside employment and activities using her mind were limited. 

Always, though, she'd loved dolls, dollhouses and models yet her other fascination was forensic science. Frances' favorite genre of books were crime mysteries (Sherlock Holmes, etc.), stories where the tiniest details could make a huge impact.

Rather a unique combination of interests, right?

At age 44, she began tagging along with her brother's investigator friend to crime scenes, taking notes over dead bodies(!), attempting to deduce how the victims were killed and by whom.

Over the next decades she helped to establish The Department of Legal Medicine at Harvard and donated thousands of dollars and books/forensic medicine manuscripts and even became the first woman police captain in the U.S. in 1943.

Always, Frances was horrified that hundreds of crimes each year went unsolved. So, around this time, she used her love of miniatures to design 18 'dollhouse rooms' which recreated true crime scenes to be used for classroom study of future police investigators.

The creator of The Perry Mason mysteries, Earl Stanley Gardner, said this about Frances' dioramas (which began to be used across the Country):

"A person studying these models can learn more about circumstantial evidence in an hour than he could learn in months of abstract study."

Today's lesson? God can open doors which no man can shut. Frances' family and the era attempted to stop her from using her talents and resources, but she persevered and perfected her calling. (Can you imagine what her neighbors thought and said?)

But even so, Frances enjoyed doing what she was called to do.

If you haven't already---please stop imagining that if you give everything over to God, He'll make you do awful/difficult/nerve-wracking things. That's such a lie, one circling to keep this world limping along in darkness, big gaps and with unmet needs. A lie created to grip us in boredom rather than the exuberant joy which comes from helping others as only we can. In our own unique way.

"The call of God is not just for a select few but for everyone. Whether I hear God’s call or not depends on the condition of my ears, and exactly what I hear depends upon my spiritual attitude.” 
― Oswald ChambersMy Utmost for His Highest

"Just start."


On Netflix, Frances' story is in the 'Vanishing Lake and More' episode of Mysteries At the Museum.



Betsy said...

What an interesting story. I have never heard of Frances before. It's amazing what God can help you accomplish in life if you just turn it over to him.

Pam said...

I've never heard of Frances, either. She was way ahead of her time, wasn't she! Makes a person wonder what any of us might accomplish if we'd simply follow our God-given inclinations. Sometimes I think my age disqualifies me from pursuing some interests, but that's bogus. I want to be more open minded!