Clara Eaton Cummings

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Clara Eaton Cummings
Clara E. Cummings.jpg
Born 13 July 1855
Plymouth, New Hampshire, USA
Died 28 December 1906(1906-12-28) (aged 51)
Concord, New Hampshire, USA
Nationality American
Scientific career
Fields Botany
Institutions Wellesley College

Clara Eaton Cummings (13 July 1855 – 28 December 1906) was an American cryptogamic botanist and Hunnewell Professor of Cryptogamic Botany at Wellesley College in Massachusetts.

Life and education[edit]

Cummings was born in Plymouth, New Hampshire, on July 13, 1855 to Noah Conner and Elmira George Cummings.[1] In 1876, she enrolled at the women's liberal arts college Wellesley, only one year after the opening of the institution.


Cummings primarily studied cryptogamous (spore-reproducing) plants such as mosses and lichens. She characterized hundreds of lichen specimens but was "very conservative" on declaring new species.[2] Much of her work appeared in the books of other botanists,[2] although she did publish a catalog of liverworts and mosses of North America in 1885.[3]

She became a curator at the botanical museum at Wellesley from 1878–79 and was hired at Wellesley as an associate professor of botany for the 1879 school year.[1][4] In 1886 and 1887 she studied under Dr. Arnold Dodel at the University of Ziirich where she did private work and prepared charts for a Crytogamic Botany illustration. While in Europe, she traveled to various botanical gardens to study some of the great botanists.[5] After returning from Zurich, Cummings became an associate professor of cyptogamic botany at Wellesey.[1]

In 1904, she published a catalog of 217 species of Alaskan lichens collected during the Harriman Expedition which included 76 species new to Alaska and at least two species new to science.[6]

In February and March 1905, Cummings took a trip to Jamaica where she collected lichens. After her death, her collection was sent to the New York Botanical Garden.[7]

Cummings was an associate editor of Plant World and named a fellow of the American Association of the Society of Plant Morphology and Physiology in 1904.[8] She was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Boston Society of Natural History.[4]

Partial Bibliography[edit]

  • Catalogue of Musci and Hepaticae of North America, North of Mexico (1885)[8]
  • The Lichens of Alaska (1904)[10]


  1. ^ a b c The Granite Monthly: A New Hampshire Magazine. Granite Monthly Co. 1907-01-01. 
  2. ^ a b Palmieri, Patricia Ann. In Adamless Eden: The Community of Women Faculty at Wellesley. p. 117. 
  3. ^ Cummings, Clara (1885). Catalogue of Musci and Hepaticae of North America, North of Mexico. Howard and Stiles. 
  4. ^ a b Kiser, Helene Barker (1999). "Clara Eaton Cummings". In Pamela Proffitt. Notable Women Scientists. Gale Group. pp. 119–120. ISBN 0-7876-3900-1. 
  5. ^ "Wellesley news : Free Download & Streaming". Internet Archive. Retrieved 2015-11-21. 
  6. ^ Fink, Bruce (3 May 1907). "A Memoir of Clara E. Cummings". The Bryologist. 10: 37–41. JSTOR 3238923. doi:10.1639/0007-2745(1907)10[37:amocec];2. 
  7. ^ Riddle, Lincoln W. (1912-05-01). "An Enumeration of Lichens Collected by Clara Eaton Cummings in Jamaica: I". Mycologia. 4 (3): 125–140. JSTOR 3753489. doi:10.2307/3753489. 
  8. ^ a b "Cummings, Clara Eaton (1855-1906) on JSTOR". doi:10.5555/al.ap.person.bm000045679. 
  9. ^ IPNI.  Cumm. 
  10. ^ Cummings, Clara Eaton. The lichens of Alaska,. [Washington,. 

External links[edit]