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Sharon, MA Laboratory

(Excerpts from the Cushman Memorial Volume)


Lab Beginnings

The Sharon Laboratory was a research facility designed and built by Dr. Cushman in 1923

"It was on Wednesday, March 28th, 1923, that Dr. and Mrs. Cushman returned to Sharon from Mexico. Plans had already been formulated and sketched on paper for a small laboratory to be built, in which to carry on the systematic examination of samples which were to be received from the Mexican field. Actual construction of the building was started the following Monday morning, April 2nd, and the work was completed in twenty weeks, so that the Director and small staff of assistants moved in and began their work on Monday, August 20th.

Cushman Collection from Sharon Laboratory (circa 1935)

The Laboratory is a small one-story house consisting of four rooms and an entrance hall, an attic for storage and a basement with preparation and washing room, photographic room, darkroom, and furnace room. In two of the work rooms, built-in tables and drawers added to the convenience of the workers. Cases of specimens, book cases housing the library, and drawers containing the card catalog, occupied the other two rooms.

The Laboratory building is situated about 500 feet from the Cushman home at the edge of woods and on a slope overlooking a wooded valley through which a brook flows to the northward. Although the Laboratory is visible from the house, the path to it passes through a short stretch of woods which opens out in an orchard adjoining the Laboratory." -HISTORY OF THE CUSHMAN LABORATORY, as recalled by Alice E. Cushman who has seen it from the beginning - from the Cushman Memorial Volume

Dr. Cushman in the library, Sharon Laboratory (circa 1935)

The Sharon Laboratory was a research facility designed and built by Dr. Cushman in 1923. It was here, with the help of visiting colleagues, students and a small staff, Cushman significantly advanced the understanding of foraminifera. (From Cushman personal files).

Alice Cushman was an integral part of the success of the Sharon Laboratory. Dr. Cushman frequently expressed his gratitude for her work in letters to his colleagues. Here is a personal note he wrote to his daughter in 1943. (From Cushman personal files).

The general layout of the Sharon Laboratory as designed by Dr. Cushman. (Used with permission from Todd, 1985).


Alice Cushman in the Laboratory office (circa 1935)

25th Anniversary


Inspired by his daughter Alice, who was always the record-keeper of the family, all the members of the Laboratory staff conspired to arrange a surprise celebration of the 25th Anniversary on April 2 of the commencement of the building of the Lab. On the afternoon of that day a few friends and neighbors in Sharon assembled for cake and drinks and Dr. Cushman was presented with a box of over 100 letters and telegrams and a cable from his colleagues and students from all over the world. It was too much to assimilate all at once so he continued that evening up at the house after supper, to open and read aloud and comment upon, each of the letters. I recall his astonishment when from one of the letters a check for $1000 fell out and dropped to the floor. He later wrote to [the donor] that "the generosity of your gift has rather overwhelmed me" and mentioned various ways the sum might be used for extra publications. (From Ruth Todd's yearly summary notes.)

  • Sign fashioned from foraminifera shells that was presented to Dr. Cushman on the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the Sharon Laboratory. Sign was created by Fran Parker and Fred Phleger.
  • Humorous dinner menu created for the occasion of the 25th Anniversary celebration of the Sharon Laboratory with signatures of dinner participants on the flip side.
  • Newspaper clipping from the local paper, The Sharon Transcript, dated April 16, 1948 reporting on the 25th Anniversary celebration.

More Photographs:


Sharon Laboratory with steel room annex at rear of building (circa 1945) One of the print shops used for printing Cushman publications (circa 1935)

 Winter at the Sharon Laboratory (circa 1935)

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