Fatherhood in the field: Horton Hobbs aka “Crawdaddy”

This spring Field Book Project began cataloging in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology, which holds the field notes of Horton H. Hobbs Jr. His materials are particularly appropriate to discuss for Father’s Day. While processing his field notes and data sheets, and cataloging the materials for the Field Book Project, the references found offer tantalizing glimpses into his life and relationships. 

Katie Ahlfeld with Horton Hobbs Jr.'s specimens Hobbs not only studied crayfish, he was the leading authority in freshwater crayfishes of North America. This and other qualities earned him the nickname “crawdaddy.”  An article by Karen Reed and Raymond B. Manning at the Department of Invertebrate Zoology described him as “the quintessential southern Gentleman” with a mischievous side. The article also includes a wonderful story about a retirement gift that hints at his sense of humor.

…his expression, a mixture of embarrassment and delight, when he was presented with a pair of boxer shorts with two flies at his retirement party-the idea being that having studied entocytherid ostracods so long he might have developed hemipenes.

Hobbs’ career spanned six decades; nearly every year he went into the field, sometimes with his wife Georgia and son Horton Hobbs III. There are numerous references to family field work in his field notes and his publications. 

Specimen collected by Hobbs Jr., and III

Hobbs’ may not be unique in taking his family into the field, but he is one of only a few to document it clearly in his notes. Hobbs often recorded his observations on preprinted field data sheets and consistently listed the presence and work of his wife and son.

In a Father’s Day piece posted by Springfield News Sun, Horton III, said of his father, “he was one that would let you stumble and not walk you through everything…but he would be there to pick you up.” Horton Hobbs III followed close to his father’s footsteps, studying limnology, and is now a professor in the Department of Biology of Wittenberg University

To learn more about Horton Hobbs Jr., and his work, we encourage you to check out the following resources, and search his field book records on Collections Search Center that will be available later this summer.

Related Resources

Horton H. Hobbs, Jr. (29 March 1914 – 22 March 1994). Biographical Notes, Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington

Dr. Horton H. Hobbs III, Department of Biology, Wittenberg University

Horton Hobbs’ daddy was ‘Crawdaddy’, Springfield News Sun

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