Archives and Specimens from the Boston Metropolitan Park Flora

In 1894 the Metropolitan Park Commission in Boston, Mass., commissioned the firm of Olmsted, Olmsted & Eliot to survey of the plants of the woodland reservations. The firm appointed Warren H. Manning to lead a team of volunteers in consultation with local botanists to accomplish the work. The results were compiled, edited, and published by Walter Deane in 1896 under the title, Flora of the Blue Hills, Middlesex Fells, Stony Brook and Beaver Brook reservations, of the Metropolitan Park Commission, Massachusetts. Another outcome of the successful amateur-professional...

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Asa Gray at 200


Asa Gray (1810-1888) was responsible for establishing systematic botany at Harvard and the United States. Gray's ties with European botanists combined with his network of collectors in North America allowed him to serve as a central clearinghouse for the identification of plants from newly...

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Blaschka Processing Exhibit

An online exhibit about processing the Archives of Rudolf and Leopold Blaschka and the Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants.

Botanical Illustrations from the Harvard University Herbaria

The beauty of botany and the importance of scientific accuracy come together in these original works of art in the archives of the Harvard University Herbaria. These collections overseen by the Botany Libraries date from the early 1800s to the mid-1900s and include works by Harvard botanists, professional artists, “amateur” women who studied plants, and others.

A searchable subset of the botanical illustrations is available on the Harvard Library...

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Bound in Intrigue

    Books come and go from libraries, drifting in and out of hands, across continents, and through centuries. The Harvard Botany Libraries contain books whose stories and provenance are a mystery; some of which can be strung together by notes scribbled in the margins, stamps from previous owners, embossing, and distinctive original bindings. While many of our books may have once had fascinating lives, they now sit now safe and dry upon our shelves.

    This exhibit highlights a few of the stunning books in our collections.

Economic Botany Historic Clipping File

This is a collection of magazine and newspaper articles, pamphlets, and manufacturers' brochures dating from around 1900 until the mid-1980's. The files include both popular and scientific papers on the origins, manufacturing, and use of plant-based products.  The collection was created to complement the Economic Botany Library and Herbaria of Oakes Ames and was moved to the Botany Libraries in 2001. 

Refer to the alphabetic list of the topics found in the files. They are available on...

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Friends of the Farlow Papers (1982-1996)


The Friends of the Farlow is a group of amateur and professional botanists interested in cryptogamic botany. The Friends support the activities of the Farlow Reference Library and Herbarium of Cryptogamic Botany.

In 1982, several interested parties began planning a friends group. A steering committee was formed, consisting of Robert Edgar, Roy Halling, Geraldine Kaye (librarian of the Farlow Library), Donald Pfister (curator of the Farlow Herbarium), Harvey Pofcher, Moselio Schaecter, and Ron Trial. With the help of a nation-wide Advisory Board, the steering...

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History of Mycological Illustration

In a paper read before the Botanical Society of Washington, D.C. in December 1921, mycologist L. C. C. Krieger pointed out that illustrations are essential for the correct identification of fleshy fungi. He noted that the best illustrations accurately portray the organism's size, shape, color, and other physical characteristics.

Unfortunately, early naturalists faced many obstacles in their attempts to document the fungi they observed. They often lacked fresh specimens, had use of only primitive printing techniques, and in some cases, suffered from overactive imaginations!...

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