She was born in Rock Hill SC on 30 April 1921, the daughter of Jesse Virginia Carson and Daniel Harley Gaulden, both of York SC. Mary Esther appears in the 1940 Census along with her brother D.H. Daniel Harley Gaulden, Jr., now deceased, lived in New Smyrna Beach FL.
She received a B.S. from Winthrop College in 1942, with a double major in music and biology, and a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Virginia in 1948.
In Oak Ridge TN, she worked as a Senior Radiation Biologist at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (1949-1960). In Dallas, she was Professor of Radiology at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas (1965-2002). She was a radiation geneticist, and authored some 60 scientific publications. She worked primarily with the giant chromosomes of the grasshopper neuroblast, which she found to be a very sensitive indicator of mutations. Her most recent interests led to her studies on the ovarian blood supply in mammals, and its implications for Downs syndrome. She was a founding member of the Radiation Research Society and the Environmental Mutagen Society, and was president of the Association of Southeastern Biologists in 1959. She served on the Committee on Toxicology, US. National Research Council (1989-1999), studying the environment on the International Space Station. She always showed a deep personal concern for the students and staff with whom she worked.
Occupation: medical and science educator
Education: BS, Winthrop College, 1942
Education: MA, University Virginia, 1944
Education: PhD, University Virginia, 1948
Career: Adjunct professor, Southwestern Medical School University Texas, Dallas, Texas, 1992—
Career: Retired, 2002
Career: Medical staff affiliate, Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, 1974—1998
Career: Associate professor, Southwestern Medical School University Texas, Dallas, Texas, 1968-92
Career: Assistant professor, chief radiation biology section department radiology, Southwestern Medical School University Texas, Dallas, Texas, 1965-68
Career: Adj. associate professor environmental scis., University Texas, Dallas, Texas, 1982-87
Career: Member staff, Community Cancer Center, University Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, 1975-92
Career: Senior biologist, Oak Ridge (Tennessee) National Laboratory, 1949-60
Career: Lecturer, University Tennessee, 1956-65
Career: Instructor, University Tennessee, 1947-49
Career: Research associate, National Institutes of Health, 1946-47
Career: Research associate, University Alabama, 1945-46
Political Affiliation: Democratic. Unitarian.
She was given a plaque by the alumni of the Dept. of Radiology, Southwestern Medical School, for the years 1967-1977.
1982 was given the Academia Award as the Best Lecturer in Genetics by the Freshman Medical School Class.
In the nonscientific arena, she also distinguished herself. In Oak Ridge, she became locally famous as the person who "threw the rascals out" of the Anderson County Election Commission, and was also active in the desegregation movement in that county. In recognition of these activities, the Oak Ridge legal community gave her the Liberty Bell Award for 1963.
In Dallas, she was one of 30 women who helped Betty Friedan found the National Organization for Women in 1966.
In 1983, she was given the Maura McNiel Award (Women Helping Women) by the Women's Center of Dallas.
She was a vivacious and dynamic person, with a fine sense of humor and a great love of life. She enjoyed entertaining and world travel with her husband. Having studied botany, she was an avid gardener and delighted in the outdoors, including hiking and camping.
In 1956 in Oak Ridge she married John Jagger, a biophysicist, and had two children, Thomas Alexander Jagger, of Austin TX, and Yvonne Virginia Mellinger, of Flower Mound TX, all of whom survive her. Three grandchildren: Alexander John Jagger, of Alien TX, and Melanie Nicole and Kyle Allen Mellinger, of Flower Mound. She lived with her family in Dallas from 1965 to February 2006, when she and her husband moved to Rambling Oaks Courtyard. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in October 2006.
Mary Esther passed away from the affects of Alzheimer's Disease. Upon her death she "willed her body to Texas Southwestern Medical School, where she worked. It was cremated 4 months later...Most of the Ahses were spread at the Raggio Memorial Garden of the First Unitarian Church of Dallas."
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↑ "United States Census, 1940," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 24 March 2015), Mary E Gaulden in household of Daniel Gaulden, Ward 2, Rock Hill, Catawba Township, York, South Carolina, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 46-20, sheet 9B, family 173, NARA digital publication T627 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012), roll 3845.
↑ OB6 Obituaries, Notices, Published in Dallas Morning News on September 9, 2007
↑ Email from John Jagger to Betty Jean Gaulden, April 11, 2011. Personal copy in the files of Mags Gaulden
In Memory of Mary Esther Gaulden Jagger, by Rep. Michael C. Burgess, The Congressional Record, Volume 153, Number 139, Pages E1932, Extensions of Remarks,Wed, Sept. 19, 2007
It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Mary Esther by comparing test results with other carriers of her ancestors' mitochondrial DNA.
However, there are no known mtDNA test-takers in her direct maternal line.
It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share DNA with Mary Esther: