1888 December 6 - 1969 August 3
Libbie Henrietta Hyman was born on December 6, 1888 to Joseph Hyman and Sabina Neumann. Her father was a Polish-Jewish immigrant from Tsarist Russia. Hyman attended Ft. Dodge High School in Iowa. She graduated in 1905 at age 17 and was named Valedictorian. Her interest in biology had already taken form at a young age and in 1906 she was offered a scholarship to the University of Chicago, with the help of Mary Crawford, her former teacher (1).
Hyman’s father died in 1907 and shortly thereafter her mother and brothers moved to be with her as she attended school. She graduated in 1910 with a B.S. in Zoology. Hyman held a research position the Department of Zoology at the University of Chicago, working under Dr. Charles M. Child. Her primary interest was in flatworms. She went on to earn her Ph.D. in Zoology in 1915 (1).
In 1916, Hyman first began writing numerous articles that would be featured in such publications as the Journal of Experimental Zoology, American Journal of Physiology, and Science. She wrote her first book, A Laboratory Manual for Elementary Zoology, in 1919 and her second, A Laboratory Manual for Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy in 1922. She would revise and expand these works in 1929 and 1942, respectively. In 1929, her mother passed away and her brothers began to expect her keep house for them. Hyman resigned from her position at the University of Chicago in 1931, deciding to focus on her own work with invertebrates. She also decided to leave Chicago to escape the situation at home and toured Europe for 15 months. When she returned it was to New York, living near the American Museum of Natural History (1).
During this time, Hyman continued to devote herself to her writings about invertebrates. In July 1935 she was working at the Bermuda Biological Station. In this same year she would finish volume one of The Invertebrates. On November 9, 1936 she was made research associate in the Department of Experimental Biology at AMNH. She remained in the position until July 1942 when she transferred to the Department of Animal Behavior. In June 1943, she transferred to the Department of Invertebrates as a research associate (1).
Throughout her time at AMNH, Hyman continued to write her treatise. Volume one of The Invertebrates was published in 1940. Volumes two and three were published in 1951. In 1953, Hyman was appointed Vice President of the American Society of Zoologists. Volumes four, five, and six of The Invertebrates were published in 1955, 1959, and 1967 respectively. From 1959 to 1963, Hyman held the position of editor at Systematic Zoology magazine.
Hyman was the recipient of such accolades as an honorary Doctor of Science from the University of Chicago in 1941, the Daniel Giraud Elliot medal from the National Academy of Science (the first woman ever to do so), an honorary Doctor of Science from Coe College in 1959, a gold medal from the Linnaean Society of London in 1960, an honorary Doctor of Law from Upsala College in 1963, and a gold medal for distinguished achievement from AMNH in April 1969 (1).
In the final ten years of her life, Hyman developed Parkinson’s Disease. She died on August 3, 1969 in New York City. Beyond her professional interests, she enjoyed flowers, gardening, reading, and playing the piano. She never married and had no children (1).
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