Hyman, Libbie

Hyman, Libbie (Henrietta)

(1888–1969) zoologist; born in Des Moines, Iowa. She performed research on lower invertebrates such as hydra and planaria, while working for the celebrated biologist Charles Manning Child at the University of Chicago (1916–31), and wrote the widely-used Laboratory Manual for Elementary Zoology (1919) and A Laboratory Manual for Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy (1922). She preferred working with invertebrates, and became an authority on invertebrate taxonomy. After resigning from Chicago, she spent 15 months traveling to European scientific centers, then relocated to New York City to begin writing the first of her comprehensive 6-volume reference, The Invertebrates (1940–68). The American Museum of Natural History offered her a research associateship (1937), which she held until her death, taking time to visit marine laboratories in the U.S.A. and South America. She lived and worked alone, and, while she often intimidated others due to her undiplomatic manner and her forceful but well-founded opinions, she held the respect of fellow scientists for her elegant research and writing. Because of ill health, she was unable to complete The Invertebrates to include higher mollusks and arthropods, although the finished volumes are classic examples of unspeculative research in comparative morphology and physiology.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.