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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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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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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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Jones, Lynds (05 January 1865–11 February 1951), ornithologist and college professor, was born in Jefferson, Ohio, the son of Publius Virgilius Jones, an impecunious millwright, and Lavinia Burton. When the boy was several months old, the family moved to a farm near Grinnell, Iowa, where the father struggled to make ends meet. When not helping his father with farm chores, Jones attended the local country schools. A neighbor who sold eggs for a living employed the teenaged Jones to collect them, and this job piqued a lifelong interest in birds. Jones also learned to hunt, a skill that helped him to augment the family income and taught him much about nature and wildlife. Shortly afterwards one of Jones’s teachers, George W. Tallmon, got some of the local youngsters together to form a chapter of the Louis Agassiz Association, a national organization for children interested in natural history, which was sponsored by ...

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Painter, Theophilus Shickel (22 August 1889–05 October 1969), experimental zoologist and university president, was born in Salem, Virginia, the son of the Reverend Franklin Verzelius Newton Painter, a professor of modern languages at Roanoke College, Virginia, and Laura Shickel. Painter grew up in a deeply religious and scholarly household, and, because he was a sickly child, he was taught at home. He enrolled in Roanoke College in 1904 and received his B.A. in 1908. Roanoke College at that time offered little instruction in the sciences, so, being attracted to the study of chemistry, Painter took advantage of a scholarship for graduate studies at Yale University. There, Professor L. L. Woodruff provided Painter his first opportunity for using a microscope, which inspired Painter to change his graduate major to biology. He received his M.A. in 1909 and his Ph.D. in 1913. His doctoral thesis in experimental biology, a field then being pioneered by biologists like ...