Elizabeth Hughes Clark was born in 1925 in London, England. Her father, Percy Hughes, served as a professor of philosophy, psychology and education at Lehigh University. Along with her father, mother Maude Williams Hughes, and brother Alfred, Ms. Clark grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and at the family's summer home Glory Hill in Belvidere, New Jersey.
Ms. Clark attended the New Jersey College for Women (now Douglass Residential College). With an interest in music and singing, she majored in history and graduated in the Class of 1945.
Following graduation, Ms. Clark worked at the YWCA in Rochester, New York. She married Leonard H. Clark in 1947, and they moved to Syracuse, where she was active in the New York State Commission against Discrimination, board of University Hospital, Chamber Music Society and Tanglewood Chorus.
After moving to Philadelphia, Ms. Clark commuted to Rutgers University and earned her Master's degree in sociology in the 1960s. Ms. Clark became the Director of Social Services at Presbyterian-University Medical Center in Philadelphia in 1966. Shen then worked at Nazareth Hospital and taught at Holy Family College in the Sociology Department.
In 1982, Ms. Clark began to teach part-time at Beaver College, now Arcadia University, Glenside, PA, in the Sociology and Anthropology Department, where she achieved emerita status.