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 Bowdoin College
(1794-    )

In 1794 Massachusetts Governor Samuel Adams signed an act to establish an independent non-sectarian college in Brunswick (now Maine). It was named Bowdoin College in honor of recently deceased Massachusetts Governor James Bowdoin II (1726-1790). Massachusetts Hall, Bowdoin's first building, was completed in 1802, Maine Hall was built in 1808, and Winthrop Hall (which served as the library) in 1822. In 1820 Maine achieved statehood in its own right and split off from Massachusetts.

Bowdoin College received the mineral collection, scientific apparatus and technical library of James Bowdoin III (1752-1811) by bequest in 1811. The collection was instrumental in the work of Parker Cleaveland (1780-1858), later known as the father of American mineralogy, who had taken the position of Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at Bowdoin in 1805. From his first contact with minerals in the fall of 1807, Cleaveland began assembling his own private collection, which grew rapidly, eventually totaling nearly 3,000 specimens. It passed to the college upon his death, to join the James Bowdoin III collection.

In 1872 Parker Cleaveland's grandson, Peleg Chandler, financed the rebuilding of the top of Massachusetts Hall so that it could serve as a museum. At the dedication in 1873 Cleaveland's nephew, Nehemiah Cleaveland, named the museum the "Cleaveland Cabinet." It housed James Bowdoin's collection in two large showcases, Parker Cleaveland's personal collection, and the substantial college collection which Cleaveland had also assembled.

See also under James Bowdoin III, and Parker Cleaveland.

BURBANK, B. B. (1988) James Bowdoin and Parker Cleaveland. Mineralogical Record, 19, 145-152.
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