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Parker Cleaveland
(1780-1858)

Parker L. D. Cleaveland, prominent early American mineralogist, was born in Byfield parish, Rowley, Massachusetts on January 15, 1780, the son of Elizabeth Jackman and Parker Cleaveland, a surgeon. He attended the Governor Dummer Academy in Newbury and graduated from Harvard in 1799, attaining the highest honors in his class. He tried schoolteaching, first at Haverhill, Massachusetts, and then at York, Maine, following which he tutored in mathematics at Harvard from 1803 to 1805. He then took a position as Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, and as lecturer in Chemistry, at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine--a post he held until his death (despite being offered many professorships in other colleges, and the presidency of Bowdoin College). His formal training had not included mineralogy or geology, but he educated himself in these fields beginning in 1807 and offered his first lectures in those subjects in 1808 (Benjamin Waterhouse at Harvard was the first person in America to lecture on mineralogy, in 1788).

By field-collecting and exchanges he assemble two valuable collections of minerals, a teaching collection and a personal collection of nearly 3,000 specimens (both of which were bequeathed to Bowdoin College). He glued a small paper label (with a red number on a white background for his personal collection, and a black number on white background for the teaching collection) directly onto the specimens; other than these, he prepared no labels, but his catalog was meticulous. Specimens were donated or traded to him by nearly a hundred early mineral collectors in America and Europe, including such notables as J.J. Berzelius and Alexandre Brongniart.

Cleaveland also published the first mineralogy written on American soil (An Elementary Treatise on Mineralogy and Geology, Boston, 1816), placing him in the front rank of the world's mineralogists at that time and earning him the title "Father of American Mineralogy." It was adopted as a text in many colleges in America and in Europe. A second edition appeared in 1822, and a third edition was prepared but never published.

A platy habit of albite was named cleavelandite in his honor in 1822 and, although it is today considered merely a varietal term, the name is still in common use. He was granted an honorary M.D. Degree by Dartmouth College in 1823. Cleaveland married Martha Bush and together they had eight children, two of whom graduated from Bowdoin College. He died August 15, 1758, in Brunswick, Maine.

Reference:
BURBANK, B.B. (1988) James Bowdoin and Parker Cleaveland. Mineralogical Record, 19, 145-152.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2014)
Mineralogical Record
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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The Mineralogical Record - Parker Cleaveland Perker Cleaveland
The Mineralogical Record - Parker Cleaveland 10 x 11 mm,
Red numerals = specimens in the personal collection which Parker Cleaveland built for himself (later donated to Bowdoin College)
The Mineralogical Record - Parker Cleaveland 9 x 10 mm,
Black numerals = specimens in the study and teaching collection which Parker Cleaveland built for Bowdoin College
The Mineralogical Record - Parker Cleaveland 45 x 77 mm,
Parker Cleaveland's calling card
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