Few people outside of the science community will recognize the names Pearl Kendrick and Grace Eldering these days, and even fewer have heard of Loney Clinton Gordon. It is because of these women that the rest of us don’t need to fear whooping cough.
During the Great Depression, Kendrick and Eldering set out to end Pertussis, the most deadly disease (especially for children) of the time. The women succeeded with the help of Loney Clinton Gordon, a chemist and laboratory researcher. Despite her intelligence and education, Gordon had a hard time finding work. Not only was she a woman, she was also Black. Kendrick and Eldering had no known qualms about such things. They welcomed Gordon into their lab and, with the help of Gordon’s research, succeeded in developing a Whooping Cough vaccine.