You won’t believe what people preserved until you see these collections

A wearable herbarium? Flowers preserved in a necklace. Image by Ellen Eckert.

A recent ArchiveGrid blog post comment by Mount Holyoke College pointed us to a woman’s collection of interesting items, including an herbarium – a collection of plant specimens. We wondered what else a search for “herbarium” in ArchiveGrid would retrieve. It turns out, names of people who collected plants for various reasons surface and preserving fragile biota is a unique challenge archivists face.

Here are 10 collections containing herbaria, pulled from the first 100 set of search results in ArchiveGrid. Do you have an herbarium to let us know about? If so, please leave a comment.

1. While at Amherst Academy, poet Emily Dickinson produced a large herbarium which is now at Harvard University.

2. This herbarium Henry David Thoreau started in 1850 grew to about 900 specimens of New England plants. Like Emily Dickinson’s herbarium, access to this rare collection at Harvard University is restricted.

3. Another New England writer’s herbarium at Harvard University is in the Frederick Goddard Tuckerman collection.

4. It makes sense that the Olmsted family of American landscape architecture and park design fame had herbariums. They’re at the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site in Massachusetts.

5. Caroline Henderson was quite a lady. During the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, Caroline and her husband remained on their farm in the Oklahoma panhandle. She was in her late 50s when she earned a Master’s degree, and on the farm she canned, cooked, grew vegetables and flowers, ironed, and kept chickens. Her collection at Mount Holyoke College – her alma mater – includes an herbarium of native Iowa and Massachusetts growth.

6. Lillian Rhoades put ferns and wildflowers in her herbarium for a botany class in 1891 at Ursinus College. Now the cloth-bound volume is at University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

7. “Under Tuition of Mr. Horace Sprague” around the mid-1800s at Kingsboro Academy, Miss M.A. Andries made a notated volume of pressed plants, which is now at Johnstown Historical Society in New York.

8. What Selma Heideman collected in the late 1800s in La Crosse County, Wisc., are at the Lacrosse Public Library.

9. And what Ella Damp of New York collected in the 19th century, and from whose funeral came some of the flowers, are at the Capital District Library Council in Albany.

10. Not all herbaria are in east coast archives. Pressed plants from Pennsylvania made by Elva E. Stoner are at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore.

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