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April 24, 2013




Probably the single most important contribution Clapp made to New Albany is his diary. Beginning in April 1819, he detailed the events of his professional and personal life. Thermometer and barometer readings and weather reports lead each entry, helping to document climate in the region long before any formal organizations were available. 

“It is said that when the United States Weather Bureau was established at Louisville, Ky., a copy was ordered made for it of the temperature and barometer records from Dr. Clapp’s diary for the early years, which was also used for comparisons published in the newspapers,” said writer Kate Milner Rabb in a paper in which she documented Clapp’s history through the reading of his diary. 

On Dec. 17, 1862, Clapp died at the age of 71. Having become one of the most distinguished doctors, geologists and botanists in Indiana, the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal posted his obituary Feb. 12, 1863. Of all the accolades written by his friend Dr. J.L. Chandler, none seem to summarize Clapp better than the following statement.  

“For many years, Dr. Clapp has been one of the leading scientific men in his adopted city and state; in everything relating to his profession he is represented to have been an enthusiast, reading every new work on medicine and surgery; and devoting much time to the study of botany and geology,” Chandler wrote. 

“He was eminently distinguished in Indiana, and in New Albany, the city of his early adoption, was no less honored for his professional skill than for his public spirit and his hearty cooperation in every human enterprise.”


Editor’s note: This is part of an ongoing series about the people and events that have shaped the 200-year history of New Albany. Read all installments by clicking on the bicentennial link under the “seasonal content” header at

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