December 6, 1888-August 3, 1969

Courtesy, Gabor Éder


"I WAS BORN IN DES MOINES, Iowa, December 6, 1888, of Jewish parents, both of whom were immigrants to the United States. My father, Joseph Hyman, came from a Polish village, name of Konin, located in a part of Poland that had been appropriated by Russia. It lay within the Russian Pale, where Jews were subject to brutal restrictions. At the age of fourteen he escaped across the border and made his way to London where he lived for some years, earning a living by plying the family trade of tailoring. Eventually he migrated to the United States, where he struck up a strong friendship with one David Goldman. The two men decided to migrate to what was then the far west (namely Iowa) and went to Des Moines, where they built a store, occupying the ground story with a clothing business.

"My mother, Sabina or Bena Neumann, was born in Stettin, Germany, one of eight children of a father who died young. She migrated to the United States and went directly to Des Moines, because she had a brother living there. He made a household slavey out of her and treated her roughly, after the best Prussian traditions. Finally she left him and went to work for a family named Posner. This Posner had married a sister of my father's, and my father—a bachelor in his late forties—was living with the Posners. He was twenty years older than my mother. The names Hyman and Posner are both invented names.


Libbie Henrietta Hyman left with the Academy a brief autobiography of about 2,500 words, which I find so moving that I have quoted it here unedited. Since it is, however, overmodest, I have supplemented it with a more objective evaluation of her contributions to zoology.


The Academy would also like to express its special thanks to Prof. James N. Cather of the University of Michigan for his editorial help in the preparation of this manuscript.

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