Madame Curie

Marie (Maria Pl.) Sklodowska-Curie was born November 7, 1867 in Warsaw, Poland. She died on July 4, 1934, as the best-known woman in the history of science. She held degrees in mathematics and physics, and with her discoveries of the radioactive elements radium and polonium, Marie opened the new discipline of radioactivity. 

She was recognized in 1903 with the Nobel Prize in Physics (, together with her husband Pierre Curie and Antoine Henri Becquerel. In 1911, she received the second Nobel Prize, this time in Chemistry (

Marie Curie was not only an accomplished scientist, but also a mother. After the sudden accidental death of Pierre Curie, Marie Curie managed to raise her two small daughters Irene and Eve, and to continue an active career in experimental radioactivity opening a new era in medical research and treatment. Her two daughters marked the history as well. Irene became a scientist and was awarded a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935 ( along with her husband in recognition of their synthesis of new radioactive elements. Eve became a known writer, and authored a book "Madame Curie" in 1937, which details on the life of her extraordinary mother and scientist.

Maria Sklodowska-Curie is notable for her many firsts (reference from the Polish web site dedicated to Madame Curie by Zwolinski, Z. "Maria Sklodowska-Curie, 1867-1934."

  • She was the first to use the term radioactivity for this phenomenon.
  • She was the first woman in Europe to receive her doctorate of science.
  • In 1903, she became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize for Physics. The award, jointly awarded to Curie, her husband Pierre, and Henri Becquerel, was for the discovery of radioactivity.    
  • She was also the first female lecturer, professor and head of Laboratory at the Sorbonne University in Paris (1906).
  • In 1911, she won an unprecedented second Nobel Prize (this time in chemistry) for her discovery and isolation of pure radium and radium components. She was the first person ever to receive two Nobel Prizes.
  • Madame Curie was the first woman to receive a Gold Medal from the Radiological Society of North America in 1922, and the American College of Radiology in 1931.
  • She was the first mother-Nobel Prize Laureate of daughter-Nobel Prize Laureate. Her oldest daughter Irene Joliot-Curie also won a Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1935).
  • She is the first woman who has been laid to rest under the famous dome of the Pantheon in Paris for her own merits. "

On-line exhibits dedicated to Marie Sklodowska-Curie:

Marie Curie receives ACR Gold Medal


National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST)
Physics Laboratory Virtual Museum
"Marie Curie and the NBS Radium Standards" - This exhibit focuses on Marie's connections to the national radium standards of the United States.

Museum of Maria Sklodowska-Curie organized by the Polish Chemical Society - This is an overview of the collection of memorabilia related to Madame Curie, exhibited in the museum situated in a historic XVIII century house in Warsaw, where Maria was born in 1867.

Marie (Maria Pl.) Sklodowska-Curie - exhibit in PDF format

Recent articles from Radiology and Science on Madame Curie:

"Portraits of Science: Scientist, Technologist, Proto-Feminist, Superstar,"
by Roger M. Macklis
SCIENCE Magazine, Volume 295, Number 5560, Issue of 1 Mar 2002, pp. 1647-1648

Marie Sklodowska Curie in America, 1921
With permission from RADIOLOGY: Lewicki AM. Marie Sklodowska Curie in America, 1921. Radiology 2002; 223:299-303

Lectures on Madame Curie:

"Marie Curie and You"
presented by Dr. Sarah Donaldson, MD, FACR
at the AAWR Luncheon Meeting, at the 2002 American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO)
Meeting in New Orleans.

Selected books:
Reid, R. W. Marie Curie. New York: Saturday Review Press, 1974.
Curie, E. Madame Curie: A Biography. New York: Da Capo Press, 1986.
Giroud, F. Marie Curie, a Life. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1986.
Pflaum, R. Grand Obsession: Madame Curie and Her World. New York: Doubleday, 1989.
Quinn, S. Marie Curie: A Life. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995.
Pasachoff, N. Marie Curie and the Science of Radioactivity. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Pictures on this web page are courtesy of Professor B. Benendo, from the Medical Academy in Warsaw, Poland. The photos were donated by Madame Curie's student and friend Professor Zawadowski, the first Polish radiologists.

Internet Resources

Internet Resources on Marie Curie:
(Compiled by Sarah Maier-Friedewald, M.D. AAWR Active Member)

On May 27, 1921, Marie Curie visited the Standard Chemical Company works in Canonsburg, learn more
American Institute of Physics
Biography, based on the book Marie Curie and Science of Radioactivity
The National Museum of Science and Industry, London
Nobel e-Museum, the official web site of The Nobel Foundation
Short biography
Nobel e-Museum, the official web site of The Nobel Foundation
An essay about Marie and Pierre and the discovery of Polonium and Radium
Nobel e-Museum, the official web site of The Nobel Foundation
Description of Marie Curie's physics Nobel Prize
Nobel e-Museum, the official web site of The Nobel Foundation
Description of Marie Curie's chemistry Nobel Prize
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Marie Curie and the NBS Radium Standards
A walking tour of Marie Curie's life in Paris
Pennsylvania State University
Dedicated to the discoveries and achievements in Radiology. A discussion of Marie Curie is present under the heading: A History of Women in Radiology
California Institute of Technology
Photos of famous scientists.