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Clara Stoltenberg

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Clara Stoltenberg

Area: physiology

Years: 1896-1909

Clara Stoltenberg - (Stanford, A. B., Physiology, 1896; A. M., Physiology, 1897). Miss Stoltenberg participated in seven of the twenty-three years of regular sessions of the Hopkins Seaside Laboratory; attending as a Stanford student in the summer of 1894; in the position of Assistant Instructor during the summer of 1896; occupying an investigators room during the summer of 1899 and in the position of Instructor during the summers of 1906, 1907 and 1908]. Professor of Anatomy at Stanford University; one of only two women to attain the rank of professor during Stanford's first four decades.


CLARA S. STOLTENBERG (1865 – 1950)

Clara S. Stoltenberg, Professor Emeritus of Anatomy, Stanford University died at her home on Salvatierra Street in Stanford, California on February 2, 1950, after a prolonged illness.  She was born in Iowa on August 30, 1865. Her early education was received mainly in Los Angeles, after which she became a successful teacher in the public schools of that City. In 1892 she entered Stanford University as a student majoring in Education, but soon her interests centered in the Biological Sciences, mainly in Physiology and Histology, graduating with the degree of A.B. in January 1896, and M. A. of in June 1897. In the Annual Registers of 1894-95, 1895-¬96 and 1896-97 she and a classmate, Ray Lyman Wilbur, were listed as Laboratory Assistants in Physiology and Histology. This marked the beginning of a continued friendship with our late Chancellor. She found her greatest interest in the structure and functions of the Nervous System and Sense Organs, in which courses of instruction she was at first associated with Professor Jenkins, but in later years carried them alone.  Beyond the few interruptions for advanced study and research at Johns Hopkins, Columbia, and Chicago, her Stanford service was continuous. She was appointed an Instructor in 1897, an Assistant Professor in 1904, an Associate Professor in 1910 and Professor in 1929, retiring in 1930 as Professor Emeritus.  Clara Stoltenberg and Clelia Duel Mosher were the only women to attain the rank of professor during Stanford's first four decades; Stoltenberg and Mosher both filled the rank for one year only, the year before their retirement. 

With the further development of the Stanford University School of Medicine, the anatomical and histological branches of the Department of Physiology and Histology were transferred to the Department of Anatomy in 1917, in which Professor Stoltenberg conducted the instruction in human and comparative neurology, the functional activities remaining in the Department of Physiology. 

In 1925, the Stanford School of Biology has been organized of the following departments so that all of the biological resources of the University could be grouped: Anatomy, Bacteriology, Experimental Pathology, Biochemistry, Botany, Entomology, Food Research Institute, Hopkins Marine Station, Paleontology, Physiology, Psychology, and Zoology.

Her keen, analytical mind, her scholarly habits of thought, and her broad human sympathies enabled her to present the complex subject clearly and forcefully, gaining for her the high esteem and enthusiasm of her students. As a colleague, she was patient, tactful and stimulating, ever willing to bear more than her share of the common burden. This was especially true during the first two decades of the University's life when financial uncertainties and material disasters threatened its very existence. Optimistic and helpful, with never a word of disappointment or discouragement she willingly cooperated in adapting the work of the department to its unexpected limitations. 


With the close of her active service in 1930, her intimate contact with students lessened, but she still cherished a deep interest in them and in the University existing for them. Her buoyant enthusiasm, her broad scholarship, her kindly sympathy and her generous understanding added much to the life of the University and of the community in which she lived. 

BE IT RESOLVED THEREFORE, that this Memorial of Professor Stoltenberg's exemplary life and achievements be recorded in the minutes of the Academic Council and that a copy be transmitted to her surviving brother. 

Victor E. Hall
Donald E. King
Edwin W. Schultz, Chairman