Stephen Carlton Clark was the grandson of Edward Cabot Clark, a lawyer and business partner of Isaac Singer, founder of the Singer Sewing Machine Company. Stephen served as a director of the parent organization, the Singer Manufacturing Company, as well as being involved with other business corporations. He was a noted art collector and philanthropist, and his Clark Foundation was a vehicle to further these efforts. He is perhaps best known as the founder and president of the Baseball Hall of Fame, which opened in 1939 in his home town of Cooperstown, NY. His brother, Robert Sterling Clark, was the founding benefactor of the Clark Institute in Williamstown, MA.
Stephen Clark graduated from Yale University in 1903, and in 1910 was elected to the New York State Assembly. He served in World War I as a Lieutenant-Colonel, for which he received a distinguished service medal. Included among his business ventures were several newspapers: he was a publisher of the Albany Evening News and The Evening Journal, as well as the Knickerbocker Press, a morning paper. In 1928 Clark sold the two evening papers to Frank E. Gannett.
On 20 February 1909 Clark married Susan Vanderpoel Hun, with whom he had four children: Elizabeth Scriven, Stephen Carlton, Alfred Corning, and Robert Vanderpoel. Upon his death in 1960, most of Clark's extensive art collection was divided between Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.