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William Darlington. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B05853).

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Darlington, William (28 April 1782–23 April 1863), physician, botanist, and author, was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, the son of Edward Darlington, a farmer who also found time to serve in the Pennsylvania legislature, and Hannah Townsend. Wanting to escape the drudgery of farm work that had restricted his schooling to a few winter months each year, at age eighteen Darlington persuaded his father to pay the necessary fees for his apprenticeship to study medicine with John Vaughan in Wilmington, Delaware. In return, his father required that he give up his inheritance of a share of the family farm....

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Neal, Marie Catherine (07 December 1889–06 June 1965), botanist and author, was born in Southington, Connecticut, the daughter of Linus B. Neal, a banker, and Eva W. Chedney. As a girl, she went on hunting and fishing excursions with her father, discovering in nature her future life’s work. Neal’s interest in plant life was heightened by her first course in botany at Smith College, from which she graduated in 1912 with a B.A. degree. She had worked in college as a secretary for Travelers Insurance Company and the Connecticut Children’s Aid Society. Upon graduation, she became a secretary in the geology department at Yale, working for Herbert E. Gregory. She moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1920 to continue her work for Gregory, after his appointment as director of the Bishop Museum. Neal was placed as research assistant in the museum’s conchology department in the division devoted to the study of mollusks, as there were no museum openings in botany. She worked there for ten years from 1920 to 1930. In 1923 Neal cataloged 200,000 terrestrial mollusks and in 1928 coauthored with Henry A. Pilsbry and C. Montague Cooke, Jr., a monograph titled “Land Snails from Hawaii, Christmas Island and Samoa.” While completing these tasks, she continued to pursue her botany studies, made an extensive botanical collecting trip to New Zealand, and completed her master’s thesis in marine algae of Hawaii, obtaining her master’s degree from Yale in 1925. Her articles written in this period for the ...

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Sullivant, William Starling (15 January 1803–30 April 1873), businessman and self-taught botanist, was born in the village of Franklinton (later part of Columbus), Franklin County, Ohio, the son of Lucas Sullivant, a deputy surveyor of lands of the Virginia Military District in the Territory Northwest of the Ohio River, and Sarah Starling. Through receiving locator’s fees and acquisition of lands under purchased military warrants and surveys, his father became a wealthy man and an owner of vast tracts of land in the district....

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Tuckerman, Edward (07 December 1817–15 March 1886), lichenologist and scholar, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Edward Tuckerman, a wealthy merchant, and Sophia May. After completing the course of study at Boston Latin School, he independently studied such diverse subjects as seashells and minerals, genealogy and history, philosophy and theology. His scholarly abilities were recognized early by experts such as John M. Earle and ...