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Allen, Charles Elmer (04 October 1872–25 June 1954), botanist, was born in Horicon, Wisconsin, the son of Charles Allen, a lawyer, and Eliza North. Having graduated from high school at age fourteen, Allen extended his secondary education by two years in order to study German and zoology. In 1888 he taught all grades in a one-room country school, then matriculated at the University of Wisconsin in 1889. His father’s death that same year forced him to drop out of school, and for the next six years he supported himself, his mother, and his sister as a court reporter. In 1894 he returned to the university and received a B.S. in 1899 and a Ph.D. in botany in 1904. After graduation, he spent a year at the University of Bonn, Germany, and the Marine Biological Laboratory in Naples, Italy; his work abroad was sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation. He began his academic career as a botany instructor in 1901 while working on his doctorate, and was promoted in 1904 to assistant professor, in 1907 to associate professor, and in 1919 to professor, a position he held until his retirement from Wisconsin in 1943. He married Genevieve Sylvester in 1902; the couple had three children. He spent one semester in 1904 as a visiting professor at Columbia....

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Vassiliki Betty Smocovitis

Ames, Oakes (26 September 1874–28 April 1950), botanist, was born in North Easton (near Boston), Massachusetts, the son of Oliver Ames, a wealthy financier and former governor of Massachusetts, and Anna Coffin Ray. Named after his grandfather, one of the builders of the Union Pacific Railroad, Oakes developed his lifelong interest in botany early on, when as a young boy he collected plants of the local flora of North Easton using a tin cookie box as a makeshift vasculum. He attended Noble and Greenough school in Boston and later Harvard College, where he studied botany and received an A.B. degree in 1898 followed by an A.M. degree in 1899. From 1900 to 1910 he served as instructor of botany at Harvard and became assistant professor of botany in 1915. In 1926 he was appointed professor of botany by President ...

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Vassiliki Betty Smocovitis

Anderson, Edgar (09 November 1897–18 June 1969), botanist, was born in Forestville, New York, the son of A. Crosby Anderson, an educational administrator, and Inez Evora Shannon, a pianist. When Anderson was three, his family moved to East Lansing, Michigan, where his father accepted the position of instructor of dairy husbandry at Michigan Agricultural College and then became professor of dairy science....

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Arthur, Joseph Charles (11 January 1850–30 April 1942), botanist and plant pathologist, was born in Lowville, New York, the son of Charles Arthur and Ann Allen. When Arthur was six, his parents moved first to Stirling, Illinois, then to Charles City, Iowa; and several years later, they finally settled in Spirit Lake, Iowa. Growing up on a farm environment, he attended the country schools of Floyd County, Iowa, and then completed high school at Charles City High School....

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Atkinson, George Francis (26 January 1854–15 November 1918), botanist, was born in Raisinville, Monroe County, Michigan, the son of Joseph Atkinson and Josephine Fish. Little is known about his family or about his early life. Although reticent, Atkinson later told some of his graduate students that he had run away from home when he was thirteen, had never entered high school, had handled grain on a Mississippi River boat, and had driven a stagecoach in the Black Hills of Dakota. The latter occupation was revealed decades later when he shocked his students by driving a four-horse team at breakneck speed on a field trip to Enfield Gorge, New York. His boyhood offered only poor country-school studies, with no information about higher education, and he remarked that he was a man before he realized that he must have an education to be anything other than a crude laborer. A sister with whom he kept in touch inspired him to attend her alma mater, Olivet College in Olivet, Michigan. There he took preparatory classes from 1878 to 1880 and a regular program until 1883, when he transferred to Cornell University. He proved an avid student and received a bachelor of philosophy degree from Cornell in 1885. There is no record of his having received any further academic instruction....

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Bailey, Irving Widmer (15 August 1884–16 May 1967), plant anatomist, was born in Tilton, New Hampshire, the son of Solon Irving Bailey, an assistant professor of astronomy at Harvard, and Ruth Elaine Poulter. When he was five years old, his father was sent to Peru to select a site for a high-altitude observatory, which he founded on El Misti at 19,000 feet elevation. Bailey was educated by his parents there, with no playmates of his own age. He wrote of this time: ...

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

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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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Baldwin, William (29 March 1779–31 Aug. or 1 Sept. 1819), botanist and physician, was born in Newlin, Chester County, Pennsylvania, the son of Thomas Baldwin, a minister of the Society of Friends, and Elizabeth Garretson. He attended the local schools in Chester County. Baldwin’s interest in botany and medicine may have developed from his association with serious amateur botanists Dr. Moses Marshall and ...

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Benjamin Smith Barton. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B02422).

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Barton, Benjamin Smith (10 February 1766–19 December 1815), physician and botanist, was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the son of Thomas Barton, an Episcopalian minister, and Esther Rittenhouse, the sister of the prominent American astronomer David Rittenhouse. Barton’s parents died before he was fifteen. At the age of eighteen he began medical studies in Philadelphia with ...

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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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Beal, William James (11 March 1833–12 May 1924), botanist, was born in Adrian, Michigan, the son of William Beal, a pioneer farmer and builder, and Rachel S. Comstock. After obtaining his early education in a district school and a seminary, Beal attended the University of Michigan, from which he received an A.B. in 1959 and an A.M. in 1862. He then enrolled at Harvard University (B.S., 1865), where he studied with botanist ...

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Berry, Edward Wilber (10 February 1875–20 September 1945), paleobotanist, teacher, and university administrator, was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Abijah Conger Berry and Anna Wilber. Berry is a classic example of the self-trained scientist. He received elementary courses in biology and botany in high school that roused his interest in nature. Berry completed the three-year course in two years and finished his formal education at thirteen. From 1890 to 1897 he worked for a cotton goods company, rising from stock boy to traveling salesman. Berry then entered the newspaper world as business manager for the ...

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Bessey, Charles Edwin (21 May 1845–25 February 1915), botanist, was born on a farm in Wayne County, Ohio, the son of Adnah Bessey, a schoolteacher and farmer, and Margaret Ellenberger. The boy attended country schools and an academy in Seville, Ohio. With the intention of studying civil engineering, Bessey entered Michigan Agricultural College (later Michigan State College) in East Lansing in 1866. Professor Albert Nelson Prentiss noted his enthusiasm for plants, however, and advised Bessey to study botany, a subject in which he received a B.S. in 1869. In February 1870 he became the first instructor of botany and horticulture at Iowa State College of Agriculture in Ames, which had been founded eighteen months earlier as the state’s land-grant college. He advanced to professor in 1872....

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Jacob Bigelow. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B02900).

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Bigelow, Jacob (27 February 1787–10 January 1879), physician and botanist, was born in Sudbury, Massachusetts, the son of Jacob Bigelow, a Congregationalist minister, and Elizabeth Wells. He grew up on the family farm, which provided the Bigelows with their primary means of support. During his early years, his father emphasized pragmatic concerns, disapproving of his attempts to learn Latin. He was an observer of nature and enjoyed tinkering on the farm, inventing miniature saw mills and better rat traps. In 1802, at age sixteen, he entered Harvard. After obtaining his bachelor’s degree in 1806, he attended the medical lectures of ...

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Blakeslee, Albert Francis (09 November 1874–16 November 1954), botanist and geneticist, was born in Geneseo, New York, the son of Francis Durbin Blakeslee, a Methodist minister and school principal, and Augusta Miranda Hubbard, a teacher. He attended East Greenwich (R.I.) Academy, where his father was principal and his mother preceptress, and then Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, in the classical course; his freshman year was devoted solely to Greek, Latin, and mathematics, and his upperclass courses were mostly science. He won the Rice Prize in mathematics, played varsity football, was college tennis champion, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He received the B.A. in 1896. Blakeslee’s career was greatly influenced by his mentor, Wesleyan chemist ...

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Blinks, Lawrence Rogers (22 April 1900–04 March 1989), biologist and botanist, was born in Michigan City, Indiana, the son of Walter Moulton Blinks, a chemist, and Ella Rogers. His interest in biology came from his father as well as from the writings of ...

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Brandegee, Townshend Stith (16 February 1843–07 April 1925), botanist, was born in Berlin, Connecticut, the son of Elishama Brandegee, a physician, and Florence Stith. Townshend Brandegee (usually referred to as T. S.) grew up in central Connecticut, where his father was a country doctor and owner of a small farm. Both his father and uncle collected plants and interested him in natural history, especially ferns and birds. He enlisted at age nineteen in the First Regiment of the Connecticut Artillery during the Civil War and wrote in an unpublished autobiographical note that “Gen. Grant [ ...