The Story of Loren Eiseley


Loren Eiseley was the son of Clyde Eiseley and Daisey Corey.

Clyde and Daisey Eiseley

 

He was born on September 3, 1907 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

 

 

Eiseley did not have an easy childhood. His father worked a lot and spent most of his time away from home.

 

 

Eiseley's mother was deaf, had a tendency to be irrational and was rather destructive. His family lived near the edge of the town, making them somewhat removed from the Lincoln community. However, this somewhat contributed to his interest in the natural world. He often played in the caves and creek banks around his yard and later put these materials in his writings.

 

 

The gift of the book Robinson Crusoe from his brother Leo prompted Eiseley to teach himself to read.

 

 

His Aunt Grace and Uncle Buck allowed Eiseley to stay with them and helped him out financially. They took him to the Morrill Hall where he first started his extreme interest in fossils. With the help of his grandmother, Malvina Corey, he made heads out of clay. Practicing with reading material from his public library he soon was able to read very well.

 

 

Malvina Corey

 

After the illness and death of his father, he dropped out of high school and worked at various jobs. He eventually enrolled in the University of Nebraska where he wrote for the Prairie Schooner, and went on digs for the Museum. Again his education was brought to a halt when he was diagnosed with Tuberculosis in 1933.

He was awarded a Bachelor of Sceince Degree in English and Geology/Anthropology. Eiseley went on to receive his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1937. While at the University of Pennsylvania he was heavily influenced by the head of the Department of Anthropology, Frank Speck. Speck was LorenÕs personal magician during his youth. He gave Loren the ideals he needed to seal his final character in place. They had similar yet different views on life and death. Speck helped shape who Loren became.

 

 

Loren began a teaching career at the University of Kansas in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology in 1937. In 1939, Loren married Mabel Langden of Nebraska. In 1947 he returned to Pennsylvania as head of the Anthropology Department.

 

Mabel and Loren Eiseley

 

Eiseley was very concerned with environmental issues and he served on the U.S. Department of the InteriorÕs advisory board on national parks. In 1949 he was elected president of the American Institute of Human Paleontology.

Loren Eiseley was best known for his examination of human evolution. In 1942, the Scientific American published his first essay, "The Folsum Mystery." He is known for the many personal essays he wrote. Such essays deal with the history of civilization and our relationship with the natural world. His first best known book , The Immense Journey, was published in 1946. This book established him as a writer who could combine science and humanism. He then began being recognized nationally and internationally and was given major prizes and honorary degrees for his work. In 1958, his book DarwinÕs Century was awarded the Phi Beta Kappa prize for best book in science. From 1959 to 1961, he was appointed Provost at the University of Pennsylvania and was then named Benjamin Franklin Professor of Anthropology and the History of Science.

His essays dealt with the history of the civilization and our relationship with the natural world. The publication that Loren Eiseley is most well-known for is The Immense Journey, establishing him as a writer with a unique ability to combine science and humanism. The Immense Journey is a collection of essays, many of which owe their origins to early Nebraska experiences. From this point on, Loren Eiseley wasknown nationally and internationally and given major prizes and honorary degrees for his unique work.

From 1969 to 1977, Eiseley published many volumes of personal essays and poetry. Those publications include: The Invisible Pyramid, The Unexpected Universe, The Night Country, Notes of an Alchemist, The Star Thrower, and Another Kind of Autumn. In 1971 he was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters. His autobiography, "All the Strange Hours," was published in 1975 and was said to be one of his finest works.

Loren Eiseley died on July 9, 1977.

 

 

Original Document Written by Sadie Anderson Retrieved on April 2002 at http://emuseum.mnsu.edu/information/biography/abcde/eiseley-loren.html

Updated and Edited by Amanda Stahlnecker 2002


His life might have been considered strange by some people, but that is how Loren Eiseley become the such a unique individual.