Gould, Stephen Jay

Alternative names
Birth 1941-09-10
Death 2002-05-20

Biographical notes:

Stephen Jay Gould (September 10, 1941 - May 20, 2002) was an American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and historian of science. He was also one of the most influential and widely read writers of popular science of his generation, leading many commentators to call him "America's unofficial evolutionist laureate". Gould spent most of his career teaching at Harvard University and working at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

From the description of Stephen Jay Gould papers, 1899-2004 (inclusive), 1941-2002 (bulk). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 754864441

Biographical/Historical Note

Stephen Jay Gould, notable American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and historian of science was born on September 10, 1941, in New York City, the son of Leonard and Eleanor (Rosenberg) Gould. His father Leonard was a court stenographer, and his mother Eleanor was an artist. When Gould was five years old, his father took him to the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Gould often recalled throughout his life how viewing the Tyrannosaurus rex during this childhood trip marked the beginning of his lifelong passion for paleontology. His interest in paleontology continued to develop throughout his childhood and teenage years, and was encouraged by his family and educators. In addition to steadfast support of their boy’s academic pursuits, the Goulds were doting parents who sought to expose their child to a wide range of culture and activities, as well as a sense of civic responsibility. Though Gould’s early childhood and teenage years were largely focused on his two prevailing passions, paleontology and the New York Yankees, he also sang in school and city choirs, and was a zealous advocate for civil rights and supporter of many progressive social issues of the day.

Gould attended New York public schools, and attended Antioch College in Ohio, graduating in 1963 with a degree in Geology. During his undergraduate years he studied abroad at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom. In 1965 he married Deborah Lee, an artist and fellow Antioch student. Together they would have two sons, Jesse and Ethan. In 1966, Gould accepted a position at Antioch College as Professor of Geology. Following his time at Antioch College, Gould attended Columbia University for his graduate work, under the guidance of mentor Norman Newell. For his doctoral thesis he investigated variation and evolution in an obscure Bermuda land snail. He earned his Ph.D. in paleontology from Columbia University in 1967. That same year he joined the faculty of Harvard University as Assistant Professor of Geology and Assistant Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology. In 1971 he was promoted to Associate Professor, and in 1973 he was promoted to Professor of Geology. In 1982 he was awarded the title of Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology, a position he retained until his death in 2002. From 1996 to 2002 Gould also served as Vincent Astor Visiting Research Professor of Biology at New York University. In 1972, along with Niles Eldredge, he developed the theory of punctuated equilibria. Theirs was a revision of Darwinian theory proposing that the creation of new species through evolutionary change occurs not at slow, constant rates over millions of years but rather in rapid bursts over periods as short as thousands of years, which are then followed by long periods of stability during which organisms undergo little further change.

A prolific writer, Gould authored 300 consecutive essays for his monthly column This View of Life which appeared in Natural History, the journal of The American Museum of Natural History. He also authored over 20 best-selling books, and wrote nearly a thousand scientific papers. Many of Gould's Natural History essays were reprinted in collected volumes, such as Ever Since Darwin and The Panda's Thumb . Popular treatises included books such as The Mismeasure of Man, Wonderful Life, and Full House, and his landmark work The Structure of Evolutionary Theory . Gould was also a lifelong baseball fan, and often referenced the sport in his essays. Many of his baseball essays were anthologized in his posthumously published book Triumph and Tragedy in Mudville .

In July 1982, Gould was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, a deadly form of abdominal cancer most commonly linked to asbestos exposure. After a difficult two-year recovery, Gould published a column for Discover magazine, titled "The Median Isn't the Message," which discusses his reaction to discovering that mesothelioma patients had a median lifespan of only eight months after diagnosis and the importance of statistical reasoning and the meaning of variation.

Gould was among the first group awarded the prestigious MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship in 1981. In 1983, Gould was awarded fellowship into the American Association for the Advancement of Science, where he later served as president (1999–2001). He also served as president of the Paleontological Society (1985–1986) and the Society for the Study of Evolution (1990–1991). In 1989 Gould was elected into the body of the National Academy of Sciences. In 2001 the American Humanist Association named him the Humanist of the Year for his lifetime of work. In his lifetime, Gould would be awarded over forty-four honorary degrees and 66 major fellowships, medals, and awards.

In 1995, Gould married artist and sculptor Rhonda Roland Shearer who is the mother of two children, Jade and London Allen, Gould’s stepchildren. Together Gould and Shearer founded the non-profit Art Science Research Laboratory, which is “committed to the creation of intellectual environment and advocacy of interdisciplinary study, encompassing the areas of research, collections and publishing.”

Stephen Jay Gould died May 20, 2002, of cancer at the age of 60.

Text for Biographical Note provided from:

http://www.stephenjaygould.org/biography.html http://www.stephenjaygould.org/library/shermer_sjgould.pdf http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Jay_Gould http://www.biography.com/people/stephen-jay-gould-9316907

For bibliographies of Gould’s writings:

http://www.stephenjaygould.org/bibliography.html Allmon, W. D., Kelley, P. H., & Ross, R. M. (2008). Stephen Jay Gould: Reflections on his view of life . New York: Oxford University Press.

From the guide to the Stephen Jay Gould papers, 1899-2004, 1941-2002, (Department of Special Collections and University Archives)

Ashley Montagu, born Israel Ehrenberg on June 28, 1905, was a British-American anthropologist, specializing in the areas of race and gender issues, as well as a prolific speaker and author, publishing over 50 books in his lifetime. The son of Jewish tailor Charles Ehrenberg and his wife, Mary Plot Ehrenberg, Montagu was born and raised in London's working class East End neighborhood. Although the reasoning behind his name change was never revealed, it may have been due to anti-Semitic prejudice faced by many East End Jews during his childhood, and Montagu might have felt the need to distance himself from his parents’ Russian and Polish backgrounds.

Montagu earned his undergraduate degree from University College London in psychology and anthropology. After studying anthropology at the London School of Economics under Bronislaw Malinowski, Montagu left England for the United States. He arrived at New York City in 1927 and began taking graduate classes at Columbia University. Montagu then traveled to Italy in 1928, where he took classes in ethnography and anthropology at the University of Florence. Upon his return to the United States in 1931, while working as an assistant professor of anthropology at New York University, Montagu married Marjorie Peakes. The couple would have two daughters, Audrey and Barbara, as well as a son, Geoffrey. In 1934 Montagu returned to Columbia University, culminating his postgraduate work at Columbia in 1936 with his dissertation, Coming into being among the Australian Aborigines: A study of the procreative beliefs of the native tribes of Australia, produced under the direction of Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict. Based largely on his dissertation, Montagu’s first book, Coming into Being among the Australian Aborigines, was published in 1937. After he completed his education, Montagu taught anatomy at Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia in 1938 and became an American citizen in 1940. It was during his time at Hahnemann that he began to produce work relating to race, resulting in his seminal work, Man's Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race, published in 1942. The work controversially advanced the argument that race was a social construct imposed upon a complex biological substratum and demolished the arguments for inherent inequality between human populations. The influential nature of Man’s Most Dangerous Myth led to Montagu’s service on the 4th United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) task force, in 1949. The ten member UNESCO committee, composed of such world-renowned social scientists as Claude Levi-Strauss and E. Franklin Frazier, was created to collect information about the problem of race and to establish educational programs to disseminate its findings. The resultant document, authored by Montagu, the group’s rapporteur, was published as the “Statement on Race” in 1951. The Committee’s final statement on race asserted: 1)All mankind belong to the same species and that the differences between groups are few compared to all of the genetic similarities. 2)That Race designates a group with high frequency of physical characteristics or particular genetic trait and that these traits fluctuate or even disappear over time. 3)The way in which people are grouped does not reflect the capacity or character traits of a particular group. The differences between races are physical and have no correlation with other traits like intelligence.

Upon leaving Hahnemann Medical College in 1949, Montagu moved to Rutgers University, where he was a professor of anthropology and head of the department from 1949 to 1955. While at Rutgers, Montagu wrote perhaps his most famous work, The Natural Superiority of Women, published in 1953. Examining the differences between the sexes anthropologically, Montagu concluded that women were the superior sex because they possessed a better capability to survive both as individuals and in groups- talents necessary for an advancing society. Based on these conclusions, he suggested that women receive equal pay for equal work, a controversial stance at the time.

With his prolific writing skills to rely on financially, and facing strong backlash for his openly liberal views and anti-McCarthy public statements, Montagu accepted a forced retirement from Rutgers in 1955 at the age of 50. Though retired from academic life, he continued to lecture at such institutions as Harvard University, Princeton University, the University of Santa Barbara, and New York University. Settling in Princeton, New Jersey, Montagu’s work took up a more humanist element with Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin, his effort to encourage parents to take a more physical role in raising their children and especially to encourage mothers to breastfeed their babies. Published during that same year, Montagu’s book The Elephant Man: A Study in Human Dignity, a history of the life of disfigured Briton Joseph Merrick, inspired a Tony winning play and later a motion picture. He continued publishing through the 1980s, including The Nature of Human Aggression (1976) and Growing Young (1981), while making numerous and notable television appearances on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show as well as the Phil Donahue Show.

In his lifetime, Montagu received many major awards, among them the American Association of Humanists’ 1995 Man of the Year award, the Darwin Award from the American Association of Physical Anthropologist in 1994, and the Distinguished Achievement Award from the American Anthropological Association in 1987. Montagu maintained an active schedule of lecturing and gardening around his Princeton, New Jersey, home until he was hospitalized in March 1999; he died on November 26, 1999 from heart disease, at the age of ninety-four. He was survived by his wife of sixty-eight years, Marjorie, as well as his son and two daughters.

From the guide to the Ashley Montagu papers, 1927-1999, 1927-1999, (American Philosophical Society)


Loading Relationships


Ark ID:


  • Hist of Science
  • Baseball--Research
  • Natural history
  • Evolution
  • Race discrimination
  • Gender
  • Punctuated equilibrium (Evolution)
  • Anthropology, ethnography, fieldwork
  • Social conditions, social advocacy, social reform
  • Cerion
  • Creationism
  • Sociobiology
  • Paleontology
  • Social inequality
  • Biology, genetics, eugenics
  • Anthropology
  • Race, race relations, racism
  • Science--History--Sources
  • Evolution (Biology)
  • Race


not available for this record


not available for this record