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Clark, Hubert Lyman (1870–1947)

by Chris Cunneen

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

Hubert Lyman Clark (1870-1947), zoologist, was born on 9 January 1870 at Amherst, Massachusetts, United States of America, son of William Smith Clark, president of Massachusetts Agricultural College, and his wife Harriet Kapuolani, née Richards. Educated at Amherst College (A.B., 1892) and Johns Hopkins University (Ph.D., 1897), in 1899-1905 he was professor of biology at Olivet College, Michigan. However, with his hearing impaired from an earlier bout of yellow fever, he was forced to retire from teaching and concentrate on research and field-work. In 1905 he joined the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, where in 1910 he became curator of echinoderms and in 1927 curator of marine invertebrates and associate professor of zoology. He was acting associate professor at Stanford University, California, in 1936 and research associate, Hancock Foundation, University of Southern California, in 1946-47.

Though he wrote on pterylography, on variations in snakes and on flowers, Clark's most notable work was on echinoderms. He made his first expedition to Australia in 1913, collecting and later classifying all classes of sea-stars and their relations, and the Carnegie Institute published his book, The Echinoderm Fauna of Torres Strait (No.214, Washington, 1921); he believed that its coloured plates, prepared by E. M. Gosse of Sydney, were unequalled. Clark returned in 1929 and 1932, visiting major museums and collecting on the north-western coast, especially at Darwin and Broome. His wife Frances Lee, née Snell, whom he had married in 1899, often accompanied him on these field trips and illustrated his research papers. In 1938 the Museum of Comparative Zoology published his Echinoderms from Australia as No.55 of its Memoirs. The climax to his work was The Echinoderm Fauna of Australia … (Carnegie Inst., No.566, Washington, 1946) which recorded all known species (including fossils) and discussed the origins and composition of the fauna in relation to adjacent areas. Next year the Royal Society of New South Wales awarded him the (W.B.) Clarke Memorial Medal 'in recognition of his distinguished contributions to natural science, particularly in regard to the elucidation of Echinodermata of Australia'.

Clark was a Republican. Described by an obituarist as having a 'charm of natural grace seldom met', he was an intensely religious Congregationalist, and always set aside the Sabbath for worship. A keen stamp collector and a lover of all sports, he considered none more fascinating than 'dredging under pleasant conditions on good bottom'. He died at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on 31 July 1947.

Select Bibliography

  • Nature (London), 24 Sept 1938, 20 Sept 1947
  • Australian Museum Magazine, 30 Aug 1947
  • University of Southern California, Allan Hancock Pacific Expeditions, vol 8, no 5, 1948
  • Science, 19 Dec 1947
  • Royal Society of New South Wales, Journal, 82 (1948)
  • New York Times, 1 Aug 1947
  • private information.

Citation details

Chris Cunneen, 'Clark, Hubert Lyman (1870–1947)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1981, accessed online 23 February 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

View the front pages for Volume 8

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