1862 September 15 - 1924 September 27
Edmund Otis Hovey was born in New Haven, Connecticut on September 15, 1862 to parents Horace Carter Hovey and Helen Lavina (Blatchley) Hovey. E. O. Hovey shared an interest in geology with his father Horace, who, in addition to being a Presbyterian and Congregational minister, was a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and the author of a guidebook on the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky (1). After being educated in the public schools of Peoria, Illinois; Kansas City, Missouri; and New Haven, Connecticut, E. O. Hovey pursued his undergraduate education at Yale University from 1880 to 1884. Upon graduating with honors from Yale, Hovey served as a school administrator in Minnesota from 1884 to 1886 (2, 3).
In 1886, he returned to Yale as a graduate student and assistant in the Mineralogical Laboratory of Sheffield Scientific School, where he studied under James D. Dana and Samuel L. Penfield. His main area of study was geology, with minors in chemistry and mineralogy (3). Hovey’s dissertation was titled ''Observations on the Trap Ridges of the East Haven-Branford Region," and he received his Ph.D. from Yale in 1889. He studied under the petrographer Harry Rosenbusch in Heidelberg, Germany from 1890 to 1891. After returning to the United States, he served as principal of the Waterbury High School in Connecticut from 1891 to 1892, where he had previously served as assistant principal from 1888 to 1889 (1, 2).
In 1892 Hovey was appointed superintendent of the Missouri State Exhibit of Minerals for the Columbian Exposition to be held in Chicago in 1893 (2). His work on the exhibit contributed to his appointment on January 1, 1894 as Assistant Curator of the Department of Geology and Invertebrate Zoology (later, Department of Geology and Invertebrate Paleontology) at the American Museum of Natural History under Curator Robert Parr Whitfield (2). Hovey worked extensively with Whitfield on cataloging the type specimens of fossils in the collections of the Department of Geology (1). On January 1, 1901, Hovey was promoted to Associate Curator, and after Whitfield’s retirement due to failing health, Hovey became Curator of the Department on January 1, 1910 (3). He remained in the Curator position until his own death in 1924. In addition to his work for the Department of Geology, Hovey served as acting administrator of the museum for two brief periods (4). He also worked with the United States Geological Survey as an assistant in 1890, 1892, and 1902-1906 (3).
Hovey's main areas of scientific interest were volcanoes, earthquakes and meteorites. He traveled all over the world, taking photographs and collecting specimens from major geological events. He traveled to Portland, Oregon to bid on the Willamette Meteorite for the museum, and he traveled to Bisbee, Arizona, to study the geology of the Copper Queen Mine (3). Most notably, in 1902, he journeyed to Martinique and Saint Vincent for the eruptions of Mount Pelée and La Soufrière, returning again in 1908 and 1915. In addition, he traveled to Russia and Italy in 1898, to Mexico in 1905, and to San Francisco after the earthquake of 1906 (4, 5). Hovey's longest trip began in 1915, heading the museum's rescue effort for the members of the 1913-1917 Crocker Land Expedition. Due to ice conditions, Hovey was forced to spend two years in Greenland (4, 6).
Hovey was a productive writer and editor, with approximately 150 articles to his credit (4). His main publications were on meteorites; on the geology and petrography of the western Sierra Madre of Chihuahua, Mexico; and on the 1902-1903 eruptions of Mount Pelée and La Soufrière (3). He was instrumental in establishing The American Museum Journal (later Natural History) and served as its editor from 1901 to 1910. In addition, Hovey edited the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences from 1908 to 1916 (4, 6). Hovey was a Fellow of the New York Academy of Sciences and a member of the American Institute of Mining Engineers (3). In addition, starting in 1907, he served as Secretary of the Geological Society of America (GSA), a position in which he was responsible for much of the society’s affairs until 1922, when he stepped down to focus on publishing his research (1, 6). Hovey also served as a delegate to eight International Geological Congresses between 1897 and 1923, as well as the Pan Pacific Scientific Congresses of 1920 and 1923 (3).
Hovey married Esther A. Lancraft on September 13, 1888 in New Haven, Connecticut. She was a graduate of Mt. Holyoke College and later served as president of its Society of Alumnae (3). She frequently traveled with Hovey, keeping detailed travel journals. Esther died on December 1, 1914 after a long illness. Their three children died prior to the age of two. Hovey married Dell G. Rogers on October 23, 1919, and their daughter Constance was born on February 3, 1921 (3). In the month before his death, Hovey had been working on an exhibit on the geology of New York City (6). He was about to embark on a field trip when he fell ill around noon on September 26, 1924 and died approximately twelve hours later on September 27, 1924 (1, 6). Hovey was survived by his wife Dell and daughter Constance.
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