Cleland, Herdman Fitzgerald, 1869-1935

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Biographical History

Herdman Fitzgerald Cleland was born in Milan, Illinois on July 13, 1869. In 1890, Fitgerald entered Gates College in Nebraska. He would eventually transfer two years later to Oberlin College. After graduating, he returned to Gates as Professor of Natural Sciences during the years 1895-1898. In the autumn on 1898 he enrolled in Yale University and in 1900, Fitzgerald received his Ph.D. in philosophy. Soon thereafter, he accepted a position as Instructor in Geology and Botany at Williams College, where he would go one to became a Professor of Geology and Mineralogy in 1907. Early field work was conducted in the realm of paleontology, and his doctoral dissertation, published as a Bulletin of The U. S. Geological Survey, was a study of fossils near New York’s Cayuga Lake. His interests often changed throughout his professional life and he spent time studying and writing about geology and prehistoric civilizations including the Neolithic Age. His professional associations included a long list of scientific organizations, most notably the American Association for the Advancement of Science; the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; the Geological Society of America; the Paleontological Society; the American Geographical Society; the American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers; and the American Archeological Society. Fitzgerald was married twice, first to Helen Williams Davison in 1910, and, after her death, to Emily Leonard Wadsworth in 1925. He had a total of four daughters. His life ended tragically during the Mohawk sea disaster on January 24, 1935, while he was en route to Yucatan Peninsula with a party of young men from Williams College whom he was guiding in the study of Mayan remains.


  • Williams College. Biographical Chronology. Retrieved from on October 25, 2011.
  • Raymoni, Percy E. (1936). Herdman Fitzgerald Cleland (1869-1935). Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 70 (10), 508-510. Retrieved from

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