The Mineralogical Record
The Mineralogical Record - Join us on Facebook!  The Mineralogical Record - Sign up for our newsletter

James Bowdoin III

James Bowdoin III was born September 22, 1752 in Boston, Massachusetts. His father, James Bowdoin II (1726-1790), a merchant who had emigrated to America from La Rochelle, Charente-Maritime, France, became a revolutionary and a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1779 and served as an early Governor of Massachusetts (1785-1787). James III was very well educated and scientifically inclined, with a strong interest in mineralogy and geology. He was so impressed with the works of the pioneering French crystallographer Renť Just HaŁy (1743-1822) that around 1805 he purchased a mineral collection from him which had been assembled to illustrate HaŁy's principles. It consisted of 480 specimens and 58 clay crystal models. He liked the crystal models so much that he later purchased a more complete set of some 300 pieces. In 1806 he also acquired from geologist William Maclure (1763-1840), later to be known as the father of American geology, a collection of 119 specimens, mostly from Europe. Bowdoin also equipped himself with various scientific instruments including a goniometer for measuring crystal angles, blow-pipes for chemical analysis, and a specific gravity balance. He died at the age of 59, on October 11, 1811. His will bequeathed his collection, instruments and library to Bowdoin College (which had been named in honor of his father), where it proved valuable in the work of mineralogist Parker Cleaveland (1780-1858), later known as the father of American mineralogy, on his Elementary Treatise on Mieralogy and Geology (1816), the first American mineralogy.

See also Bowdoin College, Parker Cleaveland.

BURBANK, B. B. (1988) James Bowdoin and Parker Cleaveland. Mineralogical Record, 19, 145-152.
Webster's Biographical Dictionary (1976)
To contribute more information please E-mail us at:

[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
Biographical Archive, at]
Click on thumbnail picture to see larger image.
Number of labels found: 1 | Labels being viewed: 1 to 1

The Mineralogical Record - James Bowdoin III 48 x 73 mm,
a label from the Bowdoin College collection.
Contents copyright © 2019 The Mineralogical Record, Inc. All rights reserved.  
Graphic design of this website by Wendell E. Wilson. Website programming by