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Bailey, Liberty Hyde (15 March 1858–25 December 1954), horticulturist and botanist, was born near South Haven, in Van Buren County, Michigan, the son of Liberty Hyde Bailey, Sr., a farmer and fruit grower, and Sarah Harrison. From childhood he was interested in nature, observing and making collections of plants and animals in the fields near his home. During his school days he came upon copies of Charles Darwin’s ...

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Liberty Hyde Bailey Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-12222).

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Phillip Drennon Thomas

Bartram, John (23 March 1699–22 September 1777), botanist, was born in Marple, Pennsylvania, the son of William Bartram and Elizabeth Hunt, farmers. His parents were members of the Society of Friends, and, although raised in this tradition, by 1757 Bartram had departed from Quaker teachings by opposing the pacifism of the society and by denying the divinity of Jesus. Excluded in that year from fellowship with the local community of Friends, he nevertheless continued to attend their Sunday services. After the death of his mother in 1701 and his father’s immigration to North Carolina with a new wife around 1709, young Bartram remained in Pennsylvania and was raised by his grandmother and an uncle, Isaac Bartram. His formal education was limited; he was handicapped throughout his career as a naturalist by his poor grammar and inadequate knowledge of Latin....

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Robert F. Erickson

Douglas, David (25 June 1799–12 July 1834), botanist, was born in Scone, Perthshire, Scotland, the son of John Douglas, a stonemason, and Jean Drummond. He spent a few years in the parish schools and was then apprenticed, at the age of eleven, at the earl of Mansfield’s gardens. Through reading, field studies, and practical gardening, Douglas developed an enthusiasm for natural history, especially botany, which would be the single passion of his life. In 1820 he obtained a post at the botanical garden in Glasgow, and there met the famous botanist William Jackson Hooker. Hooker became his mentor and then his close friend, and the two went on many botanizing expeditions in the Scottish Highlands and Islands....

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Elliott, Stephen (11 November 1771–28 March 1830), planter and botanist, was born in Beaufort, South Carolina, the son of William Elliott and Mary Barnwell. Orphaned as a child, he grew up in Beaufort in the home of his brother William. He graduated from Yale College on 14 September 1791, being elected to Phi Beta Kappa and selected to deliver an oration. He spoke “On the Supposed Degeneracy of Animated Nature in America,” challenging some ideas of Georges de Buffon, a French naturalist....

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Fairchild, David Grandison (07 April 1869–06 August 1954), agricultural explorer and botanist, was born in Lansing, Michigan, the son of George Thompson Fairchild, a college professor and administrator, and Charlotte Pearl Halsted. Fairchild attended Kansas State College of Agriculture and graduated in 1888 with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture. He began his graduate work at Iowa State College (later Iowa State University), studying plant pathology under the guidance of his uncle, Byron D. Halsted. When Halsted accepted a professorship at Rutgers University in New Jersey, Fairchild moved east to continue his graduate studies....

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Mangelsdorf, Paul Christoph (20 July 1899–22 July 1989), botanist, geneticist, and agronomist, was born in Atchison, Kansas, the son of August Mangelsdorf, a commercial seed merchant, and Marie Brune. Mangelsdorf later recalled that he had developed an intense curiosity about corn ( Zea mays...

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Marshall, Humphry (10 October 1722–05 November 1801), nurseryman and botanist, was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, the son of Abraham Marshall, a prosperous Quaker farmer, and Mary Hunt, daughter of one of the first settlers in Pennsylvania. With limited opportunities for education, the boy went to school only until his twelfth year, then worked on his father’s farm until he was old enough to be apprenticed to a stonemason....

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Piper, Charles Vancouver (16 June 1867–11 February 1926), botanist and agricultural scientist, was born in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, the son of Andrew William Piper, a baker, and Minna Hausman. Piper spent most of his early years in Seattle, Washington Territory, and received a B.S. (Scientific Course) from the University of Washington Territory in 1885. He continued to reside in Seattle after graduation and listed his occupation variously as “salesman” or “business.” As an avocation, however, he continued his interests in botany and natural history. Several obituaries indicate that he received a master’s degree from the University of Washington in 1892. However, the only record of his advanced work there indicates that the degree was awarded in 1894, subject unspecified but presumably botany. At the time, the University of Washington had no formal graduate school, so advanced degrees were given for “conspicuous achievements after graduation”; formal course work was not required, and records were casually kept. He also earned a master’s degree in botany from Harvard University in 1900. In 1897 he married Laura Maude Hungate; they had no children....

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Pursh, Frederick (04 February 1774–11 July 1820), botanist and horticulturist, was born Friedrich Traugott Pursch in Grossenhain, Saxony. The circumstances of his family and parentage have not been traced, although he had at least one brother, Carl August Pursch, who recorded biographical information concerning Friedrich. After completing a public school education in his home town, Pursh moved to Dresden, where he studied horticulture under the court gardener, Johann Heinrich Seidel. Lacking funds to pursue formal scientific training, Pursh obtained a position at Dresden’s Royal Botanic Garden, acquiring valuable experience and skills. In January 1799 he departed for the United States, where he worked briefly as a gardener near Baltimore. In 1802 or 1803 Pursh was placed in charge of “The Woodlands,” the famed botanical garden of William Hamilton near Philadelphia. During his years there Pursh benefited from contact with a number of eminent American botanists, including ...