About Parker Cleaveland, Jr.
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.
The Parker Cleaveland House in Brunswick, Maine, was the home, from 1806-1858, of Parker Cleaveland. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and declared a National Historic Landmark in 2000. It is now owned by Bowdoin College, and serves as the president's house.
Massachusetts Hall at Bowdoin College is also listed on the National Register because of its associations with Cleaveland.