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Department of Botany Records, 1892-1966
5 boxes (2.5 linear ft.)
Collection number: RG 52

Abstract:
Records include the department's course offerings, history, events, finances and faculty. Types of materials include typescripts, annual reports, press releases, syllabi, photographs, financial ledgers, published papers, journals, correspondence, and meeting minutes (restricted).

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

Department 'meeting minutes' are restricted.

Restrictions on use:

Smith College owns copyright to any published material relating to college events and activities. Provenance and copyright ownership of other materials is unknown and researchers are responsible for determining any question of copyright. Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the documents must be requested from the Smith College Archives. When requesting material at the Smith College Archives, see the printed finding aid for specific instructions on completing the call slip.

Smith College Archives
Northampton, MA

Historical Note

Botany was offered at Smith College from the beginning of the institution in 1875, but the science was not established as a separate and independent department until 1890. Among the scientific courses of study, botany considered "particularly fitted" to a woman's nature. Originally botany was among the required courses for first-year students, but was later changed to an elective. The lack of a prerequisite made the course available to all students, but science majors were required to take it. The basic text for introductory classes was most likely Gray's Manual of Botany. As the department grew, courses on topics such as plant physiology, morphology, geography, taxonomy, pathology, anatomy, field and forest botany, ecology, planting design, gardening, landscape architecture were introduced. Horticulture was first offered in 1900.

The first professor hired to teach Botany was Rev. H. G. Jessup. Bessie Capen, one of the first women to graduate from MIT, taught the subject from 1876-1879. She later opened her own school, the Capen School. A new scientific building, Lilly Hall, was opened in 1886 to provide much-needed space, laboratories and equipment. The biological sciences occupied the second floor, which included a botanical workroom, collection area, and specimen and apparatus room. At the time, the new building attracted quite a bit of attention as one of the first science buildings exclusively for women.

Dr. William Francis Ganong was appointed as Professor of Botany and Director of the Botanic Garden in 1894. He also held the position of chairman of the department until his retirement in 1932. As an internationally known botanist, he had authored several books, including The Teaching Botanist, A Laboratory Manual for Plant Physiology, The Living Plant, and A Textbook of Botany for Colleges. Under Ganong' administration the department reached its peak in student enrollment, size of staff, number of courses. There was a notable improvement in the range and quality of equipment, and the department gained a positive academic reputation. Enrollment in the introductory elective class rose to a peak of 182 in 1926, then declined.

The development of the Smith College campus has been closely tied to the Botany Department. The campus itself was used by the Botany Department as a laboratory and classroom for the study of both woody and exotic plants as the landscape plan developed. The college hired the Brookline firm of Olmsted, Olmsted and Eliot to develop a comprehensive landscape scheme. Frederick Law Olmsted, best remembered for designing Central Park in New York City and the Boston park system created a plan in 1893 included curving drives and walkways, open spaces with specimen trees, and vistas over Paradise Pond through wooded groves. In 1893-94 a small greenhouse, the beginning of Lyman Plant House, was constructed to provide more opportunities for botanical study. Construction on the greenhouse continued through 1914 as rooms and workspace was added.

By the late 1890s the sciences had outgrown the room available in Lilly Hall. Plans were made to construct a new building to house the Zoology and Botany departments. This structure, Burton Hall, was finished in 1914, and Botany Department resided in the right wing, the nearest to the Botanic Garden.

The Biology, Botany, Microbiology, and Zoology Departments were re-organized in 1966-67 and joined together under the title of Department of Biological Sciences. Now as throughout the history of Botany at Smith, students study plant theory in class, and then are able to apply and practice this knowledge in the Lyman Plant House. Horticulture remains perhaps the most popular class that developed out of the Botany Department. Students' experimentations result in the annual bulb show in the spring and the chrysanthemum show in the fall, continuing the tradition first started under the department.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Botany Department records, 1892-1966, contain materials describing the department's course offerings, history, events, finances and faculty. Types of materials include typescripts, press releases, syllabi, photographs, financial ledgers, published papers, journals, correspondence, and meeting minutes (restricted). Annual reports from 1896 to 1919 provide an excellent overview of the department's activities. Course content is also well described in the syllabi.


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

Department 'meeting minutes' are restricted.

Restrictions on use:

Smith College owns copyright to any published material relating to college events and activities. Provenance and copyright ownership of other materials is unknown and researchers are responsible for determining any question of copyright. Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the documents must be requested from the Smith College Archives. When requesting material at the Smith College Archives, see the printed finding aid for specific instructions on completing the call slip.

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

Smith College Dept. of Botany Records, Box #, Smith College Archives.

History of the Collection

The Botany Department Records were donated over a period of time from a variety of sources.

Processing Information

Processed by Christina Lehman


Additional Information
Contact Information
Smith College Archives
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: (413) 585-2970
Fax: (413) 585-2886

Email: nyoung@smith.edu
URL: http://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/archives
Language
English.
Sponsor
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Contents List
General


Box 1240: folder 1
History
n.d.

Box 1240: folder 2
Historical statistics
1950-62

Box 1240: folder 3
Olmstead's plant lists for campus
1892-94

Box 1240: folder 4
William Ganong journal
1894-1907

Box 1241: folder 1
Annual reports
1896-1919

Box 1241: folder 2-9
List of seeds collected
1895-1913

Box 1241: folder 10-11
Account books
1894-1932

Box 1242: folder 1
Correspondence
1922-1958, 1961-1966

Box 1242: folder 2-3
Courses - BOT 11, lab outline
1918

Box 1242: folder 4
Courses - BOT 11, lab outline
1936-37

Box 1242: folder 5
Courses - BOT 11, lab outline
1939-40

Box 1242: folder 6
Courses - BOT 11, lab outline
1940-41

Box 1242: folder 7
Courses - BOT 12-26, 41, 46
n.d.

Box 1242: folder 8
Courses - BOT 23
1932-46

Box 1242: folder 9
Courses - BOT 23b, lab outline
1936-37

Box 1242: folder 10
Courses - BOT 23a & 23b, lab outline
1939-40

Box 1242: folder 11
Courses - BOT 31
n.d.

Box 1243: folder 1
Courses - BOT 32
1938-39

Box 1243: folder 2
Courses - BOT 33
1940

Box 1243: folder 3
Courses - BOT 34
1939, 1944

Box 1243: folder 4
Courses - BOT 35
1925, 1939

Box 1243: folder 5
Courses - BOT 36
1957

Box 1243: folder 6
Courses - BOT 37
n.d.

Box 1243: folder 7
Courses - BOT 38
1924-25, 1937

Box 1243: folder 8
Courses - BOT 39
1925

Box 1243: folder 9
Courses - Ecology
1929

Box 1243: folder 10
Courses - Home Gardening
1933-34

Box 1243: folder 11
Exhibits
1936-40

Box 1243: folder 12
Field Trip
1929,1937, 1939

Box 1243: folder 13
Genetics Experiment Station
n.d.

Box 1243: folder 14
Graduate study flyer
1958-68

Box 1243: folder 15
Miscellaneous
n.d.

Box 1243: folder 16
Photographs - Classes
n.d.

Box 1243: folder 17
Photographs - Faculty
n.d.

Box 1243: folder 18
Contributions from the Department of Botany #1-60 (new series; incomplete)
1938-54

Box 1243: folder 19
Contributions from the Department of Botany (new series) - list
n.d.

Box 1243: folder 20
Contributions from the Department of Botany (new series) - Numbers missing from bound volume
1943-54

Box 1243: folder 21
Contributions from the Department of Botany #61-75 (incomplete)
1955-66

Box 1243: folder 22
Department agendas, notes
1946-50

Box 1244: folder 1
Department minutes
1928-1945

Box 1244: folder 2-3

Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

Subjects
  • Botany--Study and teaching (Higher)--Massachusetts--Northampton.
  • Smith College--History--Sources.
  • Smith College. Dept. of Botany.

Contributors
  • Ganong, William Francis, 1864-1941.
  • Olmsted, Frederick Law, 1822-1903.


Questions about this collection? Contact the archives
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