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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Education & Family

(Excerpts from the Cushman Memorial Volume)


Joseph Cushman's first wife, Alice Wilson, in her wedding photo from 1903. Alice died in 1912 from tuberculosis. Joseph and Alice Cushman's children: Ruth, Robert, and Alice

First Wife and Children

"On October 7, 1903, [Dr. Cushman] married his sweetheart of Normal School days, Alice Edna Wilson of Fall River, Mass. Three children were born to them: Robert Wilson, Alice Eleanor, and Ruth Allerton (Mrs. H. Eric Hill). His grandchildren are Robert Lincoln Cushman, David William Hill, Kenneth Cushman Hill, Norman Eric Hill, and Alice Edith Hill."

Joseph Cushman's second wife, Freida Billings, in her wedding photo, 1913

Second Wife: Frieda Gerlach Billings

"On September 3, 1913, Dr. Cushman married Frieda Gerlach Billings of Sharon and moved with his family into a newly built home at the edge of woods in Sharon a short distance away from his former home. Mrs. Frieda Billings Cushman has devoted her life to the maintaining of a beautiful and gracious home where hundreds of students, together with their families, have been made welcome guests for longer or shorter periods as they came to call upon or study with Dr. Cushman. It is quite impossible to conceive of the Laboratory without the Cushman home; the two complemented each other in so many ways. The contribution of Mrs. Cushman to the many successful years of the Laboratory's existence, and to the work Dr. Cushman was able to do in it, are impossible to estimate."

Family photo of Joseph Cushman in 1901, the year he began his studies at Harvard

Time at Harvard

"Upon his graduation from Bridgewater Normal School in 1901 he obtained a scholarship to Harvard University and in the fall of 1901 he entered the Lawrence Scientific School with junior standing. His intention was to specialize in cryptogamic botany but a course in paleontology under Dr. Robert Tracy Jackson interested him to the extent of his changing his major to that field. At Harvard he continued to supplement his funds by waiting on tables and by tutoring, and it was a matter of pride to him that he had been able to work his way through college. He had always been an excellent student and graduated magna cum laude with the Harvard Class of 1903."


Audio Clips


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Grandson David Hill remembers proper manners in the Cushman home.


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Grandson David Hill recalls a story about his father repairing a broken grandfather clock.


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Grandson Bob Cushman remembers the summers in NH and moving the laboratory from Sharon every year.


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Grandson Bob Cushman shares his early memories from the Sharon laboratory.


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Grandson Bob Cushman remembers the penguin drawings.


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Grandson Bob Cushman remembers Dr. Cushman and Alice's routine of graphing stock market data each evening.


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Grandson Bob Cushman shares a recollection about Japanese maps during the War.


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Grandson Norm Hill recalls how Dr. Cushman didn't like to be pressured for answers by oil companies.


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