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John Mason Clarke (April 15, 1857 – May 29, 1925) was an American teacher, geologist and paleontologist.

John Mason Clarke
John M. Clarke.jpg
Born(1857-04-15)April 15, 1857
DiedMay 29, 1925(1925-05-29) (aged 68)
Alma materAmherst College
Known forNew York state paleontologist
Spouse(s)Emma Sill
Fannie V. Bosler
ChildrenNoah T. Clarke
Parent(s)Noah Turner Clarke
Laura Mason Merrill

Early careerEdit

Born in Canandaigua, New York, the fifth of six children of Noah Turner Clarke and Laura Mason Merrill,[1] he attended Canandaigua Academy where his father was teacher and principal. In 1873 he matriculated to Amherst College, where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1877. He returned to Canandaigua Academy and served as an instructor in various subjects. In 1879–1880 he worked as an assistant to Benjamin K. Emerson at Amherst, then he taught at the Utica Free Academy during 1880–1881.[2] This was followed by work as an instructor at Smith College from 1881–1882, where he was made professor. During his second year at Smith, his first three scientific papers were published, concerning arthropods.[1]

It was at this point that he traveled to Göttingen University in 1883, where he hoped to study for a doctorate. However, an accusation of heterodoxy by the President of Smith College led to the termination of his services there. As a consequence, he returned to the United States, where he resumed his teaching career at Massachusetts Agricultural College during 1884–1885. Out of work, he continued a study of the Upper Devonian, which he hoped to use for his dissertation. In January 1886 he became an assistant to James Hall at the New York State Museum of Natural History in Albany. He would continue an association with the museum for the remainder of his career.[1]

Paleontology and geologyEdit

He married his first wife, Emma Juel Sill, on September 29, 1887;[3] the couple would have one son, Noah T. Clarke.[4] In 1894 he was named professor of Geology and Mineralogy at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.[1] He married his second wife, Fannie V. Bosler, in 1895.[5] Following the death of James Hall in 1898, Clarke was named New York State Paleontologist and was put in charge of a geological survey of New York.[6] In 1904 he became the State Geologist and Paleontologist, Director of the State Museum, and Director of the Science Division of the Education Department.[1] He was named the first president of the Paleontological Society in 1908,[6] then served as vice president of the Geological Society of America in 1909 and its president in 1916.[1][7][8]

John M. Clarke died in 1925 in Albany, New York. He was survived by his wife Fannie and son Noah.[4] During his career he published 452 titles, of which around 300 are on the subject of geology or paleontology. Three genera and 42 species were named after him. He was awarded six honorary degrees and received offers from four universities to chair their departments of geology.[1] The John Mason Clarke 1877 Fellowship was established by his son Noah to provide income for graduate studies in geology or paleontology.[9]

Honors and awardsEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Schuchert, Charles (1926), "Biographical Memoir of John Mason Clarke" (PDF), Annual Report of the National Academy of Sciences, The National Academies Press, retrieved 2013-03-19.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Schuchert, Charles; Ruedemann, Rudolf (1926), "John Mason Clarke (1857–1925)", Annual Report of the National Academy of Sciences, pp. 136–143.
  3. ^ Hughes, Thomas Patrick; Munsell, Frank (1889), American Ancestry: Embracing lineages from the whole of the United States, 4, Albany, N.Y.: J. Munsell's sons, p. 143.
  4. ^ a b c Wolcott, Charles D. (1926), "The Mary Clark Thompson Fund", Annual Report of the National Academy of Sciences, p. 43.
  5. ^ a b Who's who in New York City and State (5th ed.), New York: L.R. Hamersly Company, 1911, p. 178.
  6. ^ a b "John Mason Clarke (1857-1925)", Middle Academic Period (1900s to 1960s), Harvard College, 2004, retrieved 2013-03-19.
  7. ^ Fairchild, Herman LeRoy, 1932, The Geological Society of America 1888-1930, a Chapter in Earth Science History: New York, The Geological Society of America, 232 p.
  8. ^ Eckel, Edwin, 1982, GSA Memoir 155, The Geological Society of America — Life History of a Learned Society: Boulder, Colorado, Geological Society of America Memoir 155, 168 p., ISBN 0-8137-1155-X.
  9. ^ Prizes and Awards, Amherst College, archived from the original on 2015-06-06, retrieved 2013-03-19. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  10. ^ Osborn, Henry Fairfield; et al. (1908), "Committee on the Hayden Memorial Award", Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, 60 (3), p. 502.
  11. ^ IPNI.  J.M.Clarke.