Tarleton Hoffman Bean was born to George Bean and Mary Smith Bean in Bainbridge, Pennsylvania, on 8 October 1846. He attended State Normal School at nearby Millersport, Pennsylvania, graduating in 1866. He received an M.D. degree from Columbian University, now George Washington University, Washington, DC, 1876.
In 1883, he was awarded an M.S. degree from the Indiana University on the basis of his professional accomplishments, although he did not attend classes there. He married Laurette H. van Hook, daughter of John Welsh VanHook, a local Washington businessman, in 1878 in Washington, DC. They had one daughter, Caroline van Hook Bean (born in Washington on 16 November 1879), a noted artist who later married Bernardus Blommers, Jr.
His brother, Barton Appler Bean, also became an ichthyologist and worked under him at the National Museum.
Bean, Tarleton Hoffman. 1880. "Descriptions of two species of fishes collected by Prof. A. Dugès in central Mexico". Proceeding of the United States National Museum. 2(95):302-305 (ffm00236)
Bean, Tarleton Hoffman. 1887. "Descriptions of five new species of fishes sent by Prof. A. Dugès from the Province of Guanajuato, Mexico". Proceeding of the United States National Museum. 10(637):370-375 (ffm04505)
Bean, Tarleton Hoffman. 1892. "Notes on fishes collected in Mexico by Prof. Alfredo Dugès, with descriptions of new species". Proceeding of the U. S. National Museum. 283-287 (ffm00239)
Bean, Tarleton Hoffman. 1898. "Notes on a collection of fishes from Mexico, with description of a new species of Platypoecilus". Proceeding of the United States National Museum. 21(1159):539-542 (ffm04535)