August 16, 1908–November 22, 1974


GERALD MAURICE CLEMENCE was born near Greenville, Rhode Island, on August 16, 1908, the first child of Richard R. and Lora E. (Oatley) Clemence. He died in Providence, Rhode Island, on November 22, 1974, after an illness of several months. He was one of a small group of dynamical astronomers in this country before the dawn of the space age, and his scientific career spanned the entire period from the lead pencil era of hand computing to the use of the most powerful electronic calculators. Influenced by the career of Simon Newcomb, whose accomplishments he greatly admired, Clemence brought the U.S. Nautical Almanac Office back to the preeminent position in dynamical astronomy it had enjoyed in the later part of the nineteenth century.


As a child Gerald lived on an 80-acre farm in northern Rhode Island with a younger sister and three younger brothers, his mother, and an older friend of hers, who was much like a grandmother to them. The farm was mostly woods, with about 10 acres under cultivation. They kept a cow or two, a horse, and hens, and his chief duties were looking after the barn, mowing the lawn, and shoveling snow. His father ran a dairy farm about 10 miles distant, on

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement