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Barbour, George Brown (22 August 1890–12 July 1977), geologist and educator, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of Dr. Alexander Hugh Freeland Barbour (at one time president of the Royal College of Surgeons) and Margaret Nelson Brown. Barbour received his preparatory school education at Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh. In 1904–1905 he studied organ at Marburg University in Germany and in 1911 received an M.S. with honors in classics at Edinburgh. During a visit to China on his postgraduate trip around the world, Barbour experienced the turmoil surrounding the fall of the Manchu dynasty and was inspired to become a missionary in China. In 1914 he entered St. John’s College, Cambridge, to complete a second M.S. that would qualify him in science and prepare him to contribute to the modernization and advancement of Chinese society....

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Bascom, Florence (14 July 1862–18 June 1945), geologist and educator, was born in Williamstown, Massachusetts, the daughter of suffragist Emma Curtiss and John Bascom, a professor at Williams College. Her mother, as an officer of the National Suffrage Association wrote, “While the ballot is withheld from women and given to all other classes of citizens except idiots and criminals, it puts on womanhood an inescapable badge, and an inescapable fact, of inferiority” (quoted in Smith, p. 17). Her father advocated for coeducation and unsuccessfully raised the issue at Williams. Both parents profoundly affected the way Florence Bascom saw the world. She became the first woman in the United States to enter fully the profession of geology....

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Brown, Harrison Scott (26 September 1917–08 December 1986), geochemist and specialist in international relations, was born in Sheridan, Wyoming, the son of Harrison H. Brown, a rancher and cattle broker, and Agnes Scott, a music teacher. After his father’s death, when Brown was ten, he moved with his mother to San Francisco, California. A precocious student with a talent for music and the sciences, Brown is credited with building his own chemistry laboratory while attending Galileo High School. He then attended the University of California at Berkeley, earning a B.A. in physics in 1938....

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Chamberlin, Rollin Thomas (20 October 1881–06 March 1948), teacher, editor, and structural and glacial geologist, was born in Beloit, Wisconsin, the son of Alma Isabel Wilson and Thomas Chrowder Chamberlin, a geologist and educator. He was married in 1922 to Dorothy Ingalls Smith; they had three children....

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Cleaveland, Parker (15 January 1780–15 October 1858), educator and author of the first American textbook on mineralogy, was born in Byfield Parish, Massachusetts, the son of Parker Cleaveland, Sr., a medical doctor who served in the American Revolution, and Elizabeth Jackman. Cleaveland attended the Dummer Academy near his home and went to Harvard College for his undergraduate education. An honors graduate in the class of 1799, he took teaching jobs at secondary schools in Haverhill, Massachusetts, and York, Maine, until returning to Harvard to earn a master’s degree in 1802 and work as a tutor in 1803. Just two years later he accepted a position as professor of mathematics and natural philosophy at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, where he remained on the faculty until his death. In September 1806 he married Martha Bush; they raised eight children....

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Cook, George Hammell (05 January 1818–22 September 1889), geologist and educator, was born in Hanover, New Jersey, the son of John Cook and Sarah Munn, farmers. Cook received his early schooling in Morris County and studied surveying and geometry at the Old Academy in Chatham. In 1836 Cook worked as a surveyor on the Morris & Essex Railroad and in 1838 on the Canajoharie & Catskill Railroad....

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James Dwight Dana. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103928).

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Dana, James Dwight (12 February 1813–14 April 1895), geologist, zoologist, and teacher, was born in Utica, New York, the son of James Dana, a businessman, and Harriet Dwight. His father was a descendant of Richard Dana who settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1640. Dana, a studious scholar, was educated in the Utica High School, where his interest in science appeared early and developed through hard work, talent, and intelligence, despite his father’s disparagement of science as a career. Attracted to Yale College by ...

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Gould, Laurence McKinley (22 August 1896–21 June 1995), educator, geologist, and explorer, was born in Lacota, Michigan, the son of Herbert Gould and Anna Updike, farmers. In 1914 he left the family farm and moved to Boca Raton, Florida, where he taught in a one-room schoolhouse. He also helped to found a Sunday school class and with his students published the ...

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William Henry Holmes. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-48333).

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Holmes, William Henry (01 December 1846–20 April 1933), artist, scientist, and administrator, was born on a farm near Short Creek in southeastern Ohio, the youngest of three sons of Joseph Holmes and Mary Heberling Holmes. In 1856 Holmes's mother died and his grandparents, John and Mary Heberling, raised him in nearby Georgetown until 1860, when his father married Sarah I. Moore. At eighteen, Holmes entered McNeely Normal School to prepare for a teaching career. While excelling in drawing, geography, and natural history and immersing himself in the student life of McNeely, Holmes taught temporarily in the Harrison County schools. In 1870 he was asked to join the McNeely faculty to teach art and science. Art was Holmes's real passion, however; not teaching. Restless, he decided to go to the nation's capital between terms to study under Theodore Kaufmann. When not in the studio, Holmes was at the Smithsonian Institution drawing birds and, perhaps, also drawing attention to himself. He was discovered there by a Costa Rican ornithologist, José Zeledon, and hired on the spot as one of the Smithsonian's contract illustrators. Holmes liked his new work but learned that there was a difference between art and illustration when Assistant Secretary ...

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LeConte, Joseph (26 February 1823–06 July 1901), geologist and educator, was born in Liberty County, Georgia, the son of Louis LeConte, a planter, and Ann Quarterman. Reared on a large plantation in Liberty County, Georgia, LeConte developed an early interest in natural history, following an example set by his father, an able amateur scientist, and his uncle John Eatton LeConte, a noted naturalist who often visited the plantation and collected faunal specimens in the region. Receiving his preparatory education mainly at home, LeConte entered the University of Georgia in 1838, soon after the death of his father. He graduated with an A.B. in 1841 and three years later enrolled in the College of Physicians and Surgeons, in New York, from which he received the degree of doctor of medicine in 1845....

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Rogers, William Barton (07 December 1804–30 May 1882), geologist and educator, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Patrick Kerr Rogers, a Physician, and Hannah Blythe. William and his brothers, James Blythe, Henry Darwin and Robert Empie (all of whom became successful scientists), were educated in the public schools of Baltimore. When Patrick Rogers was elected professor of natural philosophy and chemistry at the College of William and Mary in 1819, the fifteen-year-old William immediately enrolled there, studying science until 1821. Thereafter he operated a school at Windsor, Maryland, with his younger brother Henry....

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Salisbury, Rollin D. (17 August 1858–15 August 1922), geologist and educator, was born in Spring Prairie, Wisconsin, the son of Daniel Salisbury and Lucinda Bryant, farmers. The boy helped on the farm and attended a nearby country school until he was sixteen. He then completed the four-year course of the state normal school in Whitewater, Wisconsin, in three years, taught school for a year, and entered Beloit College in 1878. There he became acquainted with professor ...

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Shaler, Nathaniel Southgate (20 February 1841–10 April 1906), geologist, geographer, and educationalist, was born in Newport, Kentucky, the son of Nathaniel Burger Shaler, a medical doctor, and Ann Hinde Southgate, the daughter of a prominent legal and landholding family.

Prior to his enrollment in Harvard’s sophomore class of 1859, Shaler—due to ill health—had been educated informally by a Swiss tutor, Johannes Escher, who instructed him in classical languages and initiated him into the rudiments of German idealist philosophy. With such a preparation Shaler turned first to the study of the humanities at Harvard, but he soon abandoned what he considered mere scholasticism to enlist as a student of ...

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Shepard, Charles Upham (29 June 1804–01 May 1886), mineralogist, educator, chemist, and natural historian, was born in Little Compton, Rhode Island, the son of Mase Shepard, a Congregational minister, and Deborah Haskins. Shepard began collecting rocks and minerals while attending grammar school in Providence, Rhode Island. He entered Brown University in 1820, but his father died during his first year, and his mother then moved with her family to Amherst, Massachusetts, where Shepard entered the sophomore class at the newly founded Amherst College....

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Silliman, Benjamin (08 August 1779–24 November 1864), scientist and educator, was born in North Stratford (now Trumbull), Connecticut, the son of Gold Selleck Silliman, a lawyer and brigadier general in the Continental army, and Mary Fish Noyes. Silliman entered Yale College when he was thirteen, graduating in 1796. After spending two years at home and teaching at a private school, he began the study of law and was admitted to the bar in 1802. During this time he was also a tutor at Yale (1799–1802), where his interest in the natural world began. Yale’s president, ...

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Tarr, Ralph Stockman (15 January 1864–21 March 1912), geologist, writer, and teacher, was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, the son of Silas Tarr, a building contractor, and Abigail Saunders. He spent his boyhood in Gloucester, and after his graduation from the local high school in 1881, he entered Harvard University as a special student in the Lawrence Scientific School. His studies at Harvard were not continuous but spread over parts of several academic years (1881–1882, 1884–1885, 1886–1889, 1890–1892)....

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White, George Willard (08 July 1903–20 February 1985), geologist and historian, was born in North Lawrence, Ohio, the son of William Sherman White, a Congregationalist minister, and Ora Batavia Battin. His father treated him as an adult from an early age, involving him in the preparation of his sermons; this practice significantly shaped White’s professional career. After graduating from Cambridge (Ohio) High School, White entered Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio, completing his undergraduate degree in 1921. He then entered Ohio State University, from which he received his M.A. in 1925 and his Ph.D. in 1933....