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Cora Huidekoper Clarke (1851-1916)



Cora Huidekoper Clarke was born February 9, 1851, in Meadville, Pennsylvania, one of four children of Anna Huidekoper and James Freeman Clarke, an influential Unitarian minister and anti-slavery activist who studied at Harvard's Divinity School. In 1854 the family returned to the Boston area to settle in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, where Clarke lived until 1897. She then moved to Mt. Vernon Street in Boston where she resided until her death on April 2, 1916.

Clarke suffered from poor health throughout most of her childhood. For this reason, she was not able to attend school until she was thirteen years old. Despite her late start, Clarke excelled in school and continued on an academic path, studying at various Boston institutions following high school. She attended a horticultural school in Newton and later studied at Harvard's undergraduate school of agriculture and horticulture, the Bussey Institution in Jamaica Plain. At the Bussey Institution, Clarke was taught by Francis Parkman, who told her father, "Your daughter has qualities of mind that most women do not possess." Clarke continued her studies independently under such notables as Gray, Goodale, and Farlow.

Clarke's interests lay in botany and entomology. She was a member of several scientifically interested organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Cambridge Entomological Club, the Boston Society of Natural History, and the Botany Group of the New England Women's Club, which she led for thirty-five years. In addition to her own publications, Clarke also assisted financially in the publications of others. Between 1888 and 1895, Clarke corresponded fairly regularly with Dr. Farlow of the Harvard University Herbaria about her collection of sea mosses and algae, and sent him many photographs and specimens. She was also well known by entomologists for her work with and publications on caddis flies and gallflies. She had remarkable success rearing gallflies and discovered five new species; two were named in her honor by Homer F. Bassett. Along with her success in rearing gallflies, Clarke made superb photos of them. Some of these photos are found in two volumes that were presented to the Boston Society of Natural History, while those in this collection were given to the Library of the Gray Herbarium shortly before Clarke's death. In addition to the letters and manuscripts found in Harvard collections, a small collection of correspondence, clippings, and items of Clarke's can be found at the Clements Library at the University of Michigan.


"Cora Clarke". Psyche. 23 (3): 94, June 1916.
Read, Anne L. "Cora H. Clarke." The Bryologist. 19: 73, 1912.


The provenance of the correspondence in the bound volume of Series I is not known. The photographs in Series II were originally placed in a handmade album of two volumes and donated to the Library of the Gray Herbarium by Clarke on May 24th, 1915. In early 2004, the albums were transferred from the library to the Gray Herbarium Archives. The albums were photocopied to maintain context before the individual photographs were removed and re-housed for preservation purposes; the albums were retained with original hand-labeling intact. The photographs remain in their original order while the individual descriptions have been transcribed directly from Clarke's descriptions in the albums.

Scope and Content:

The collection is compiled from two series of differing origin: Series I. Correspondence and Series II. Photographs. Series I. Correspondence can be found in the Farlow Herbarium Archives, and consists of one bound volume of letters and miscellaneous manuscripts covering the years 1888 to approximately 1915. Series II. Photographs belongs to the Gray Herbarium Archives, and consists of approximately 210 photographs taken around 1914, showing the galls of different types of gallflies on various plants.

Series Descriptions and Inventories:

Series I. Correspondence
Series II. Photographs

See Also:

Library of the Gray Herbarium Archives Historic Letters Database, under Clarke, Cora H. 1 letter, 1887.
Library of the Gray Herbarium Archives Semi-Historic Letters Database, under Clarke, Cora Huidekoper. 84 letters,1899-1916. Includes several pressed plants and 1 plant photograph ca. 1903.


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