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Catesby, Mark (31 December 1682–23 December 1749), naturalist, botanist, and ornithologist, was born in Castle Hedingham, Essex, England, the son of John Catesby, a former town clerk, justice of the peace, and mayor of Sudbury, England, and Elizabeth Jekyll. He may have attended the local grammar school in Sudbury, but little is known of his educational record. It is thought that he had no university-level or formal legal training, although his eldest brother was a student at Cambridge University and the Inns of Court in London. Catesby was reasonably proficient in Latin, and it is possible that he either had some training in botany or some early experience in that field. It is also probable that he met and learned from the celebrated English naturalist John Ray sometime prior to the latter’s death in 1705....

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Clapp, Cornelia Maria (17 March 1849–31 December 1934), zoologist, educator, and biologist, was born in Montague, Massachusetts, the daughter of Richard C. Clapp, a teacher and farmer, and Eunice Amelia Slate. Her parents ensured that she had an excellent education in the public and private schools of her home town, which had been home to several generations of her ancestors. A lifelong learner, Clapp summarized her eclectic academic career: “I was all bent on one thing, then another … first an entomologist, then a conchologist and then a fish woman.”...

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Cockerell, Theodore Dru Alison (22 August 1866–26 January 1948), entomologist and systematic biologist, was born in Norwood, England, the son of Sydney J. Cockerell, a gentleman, and Alice Bennett. After the death of his father in 1878, the family moved to Margate, England. Cockerell attended various schools, including the Middlesex Hospital School, but he did not earn a degree....

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Dall, William Healey (21 August 1845–27 March 1927), natural historian, paleontologist, and malacologist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Charles Henry Appleton Dall, a Unitarian missionary, and Caroline Wells Healey Dall, the author of numerous publications on women’s rights. Dall’s father became a missionary to India in 1855, which limited the financial resources of his family and ultimately prevented Dall from attending college. Deeply influenced by ...

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Eklund, Carl Robert (27 January 1909–04 November 1962), scientist and antarctic explorer, was born in Tomahawk, Wisconsin, the son of John Eklund, a carpenter, and Maria Olson. Both his parents were immigrants from Sweden. Eklund was an outstanding football and basketball player at Tomahawk High School. Later he starred in football at Carleton College in Minnesota, from which he graduated in 1932. Carleton’s Dr. ...

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Fossey, Dian (16 January 1932– December 1985), naturalist and zoologist, was born in San Francisco, California, the daughter of George Fossey, an insurance agent, and Kitty Kidd, a fashion model. Her alcoholic father left the family when Fossey was three years old, and her stepfather, Richard Price, was unloving and discouraging. Her uncle Albert Chapin helped take care of Fossey and financed her schooling....

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Hamilton, William John, Jr. (11 December 1902–17 July 1990), mammalogist, naturalist, and educator, was born in Corona, Queens, New York, the son of William John Hamilton and Charlotte Richardson. His interest in nature was kindled in boyhood by a Sunday school teacher who gave him a plant to care for when Hamilton was seven. He was soon involved in gardening (which would remain a major avocation all his life), bird watching, muskrat trapping, and kindred activities. In his teens, he raised needed income by supplying timber rattlesnakes to the New York Zoological Society’s Bronx Zoo and moth cocoons to a shop on lower Fifth Avenue in New York City....

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Holland, William Jacob (16 August 1848–13 December 1932), zoologist and paleontologist, was born in Jamaica, West Indies, the son of Francis Raymond Holland, a minister, and Augusta Eliza Wolle. After living in Ohio and North Carolina, the family settled in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 1863. There Holland attended the Moravian College and Theological Seminary; after graduating he attended Amherst College, receiving his A.B. degree in 1869. After serving for a year as principal of Amherst High School and for another year as principal of Westborough High School, both in Massachusetts, Holland entered the Princeton Theological Seminary, completing his course in 1874. While studying at Princeton he was ordained in the Moravian Church. In 1874 Holland became a Presbyterian and moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to take a position as pastor of the Bellefield Presbyterian Church. He married Carrie T. Moorhead in 1879; they had two children....

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Patten, William (15 March 1861–27 October 1932), zoologist and paleontologist, was born in Watertown, Massachusetts, the son of Thomas Patten, a harness maker, and Mary Low Bradley. As a youth, Patten pursued his interest in birds, aspiring to emulate artist and ornithologist John J. Audubon...

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Tate, George Henry Hamilton (30 April 1894–24 December 1953), mammalogist and naturalist, was born in London, England, the son of Septimus George Tate, a railroad administrator, and Elizabeth Hamilton. His family lived in Canada from 1895 to 1902, after which they spent a year in the United States. In 1903 they returned to England, remaining until 1912, when they came back to the United States to stay. The family resided in New York City, and Tate’s father worked in his railroad company offices there. The younger Tate attended primary schools in England, Canada, and the United States, worked as a telegraph operator for the Western Union Company on Long Island from 1912 to 1914, and then returned to England to become an infantry and later an engineering officer in the British army during World War I. He was a student at the Imperial College of Science and Technology in London in 1918–1919, then spent much of the year 1919–1920 managing a lime plantation in Dominica, British West Indies. In the autumn of 1920, he was an instructor at the Newton Academy in New Jersey....

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Tryon, George Washington, Jr. (20 May 1838–05 February 1888), conchologist and naturalist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Edward K. Tryon, a businessman involved in the manufacture and trade of sporting firearms, and Adeline Savitd. Tryon showed an early interest in natural history and in the collection of specimens, especially shells. Studious and methodical, he showed skill at identifying and curating when only seven. His education began at home and at private schools; at age twelve he entered Friends’ Central School in Philadelphia, attending for three years. This marked the end of his formal education, although he subsequently learned French, German, and music from private tutors. His interest in literature and music was lifelong—strong enough for him to write a comic opera, manage an orchestra, and edit, publish, and arrange music—but these activities did not alter his intent to be a natural historian. He was persuaded to enter the family business in 1857, but he left in 1868 to devote the rest of his life to conchology, becoming one of the most knowledgeable American authorities in that growing field....

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Wetmore, Alexander (18 June 1886–07 December 1978), ornithologist, avian paleontologist, and museum administrator, was born Frank Alexander Wetmore in North Freedom, Wisconsin, the son of Dr. Nelson Franklin Wetmore, a general practitioner, and Emma Amelia Woodworth. As a boy, he walked to school in the town of Baraboo, which was six miles from his home. His interest in natural history, which dated from boyhood, was encouraged by his mother. For reasons of health, Emma Wetmore found it necessary to avoid the cold Wisconsin winters, and she often traveled further south with her son in tow. He spent his final year of high school in Independence, Kansas, graduating in 1905. The following summer he worked as a railway station night clerk....

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Williston, Samuel Wendell (10 July 1851–30 August 1918), paleontologist and entomologist, was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, the son of Samuel Williston, a blacksmith and farmer, and Jane Augusta Turner. The family moved from Massachusetts to Manhattan, Kansas Territory, in 1857, as part of an antislavery effort by the New England Emigrant Aid Society. Although his father had little schooling, Williston developed an early interest in reading. Earning his own way, he attended Kansas State Agricultural College in Manhattan, where the professor of natural philosophy was Benjamin Franklin Mudge. “That my life has been devoted to natural science was largely due to his influence,” said Williston in late life....

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Young, Stanley Paul (30 October 1889–15 May 1969), mammalogist, wildlife biologist, and scientific administrator, was born in Astoria, Oregon, the son of Swedish immigrants Benjamin Youngquist and Christina Swanson. His father, who had been a cabin boy on the Confederate ship Alabama, later a member of the U.S. Merchant Marine, a sugar plant foreman, and owner of several Pacific coast fish canneries, changed the family name to Young when his son was a boy. Young’s mother died when he was twelve, his father when he was twenty-two. He was raised by his older married sister Carol....