Timelines and People
by Deb Lewis
1858 (March) Iowa Governor Ralph Lowe signs a bill providing for establishment of a state Agricultural College and Farm. Instruction would be offered in 19 subjects, including botany.
1868 (October) Iowa State Agricultural College opens. Dr. Norton S. Townshend teaches the first botany courses.
1870 (February) Dr. Charles E. Bessey arrives at Iowa State Agricultural College as instructor in botany, horticulture, and zoology. The herbarium is founded.
1871 (December) Dr. Bessey states in the Fourth Biennial Report of the college that the Herbarium is officially established and contains "representatives of perhaps about 2500 species." Bessey and his student J.C. Arthur list 588 species of Iowa flowering plants and ferns, the list is added as an appendix to the report.
1876 Dr. Bessey and Mr. Arthur prepare an exhibit of Iowa plants and woods for the nation's Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.
1877 Mr. Arthur receives the first graduate degree (M.S.) from Iowa State Agricultural College upon completion of his studies in botany and zoology.
1884 (August) Dr. Bessey leaves Iowa State to become Dean at the University of Nebraska; he is replaced by Dr. Byron D. Halsted, who "did not add much to the Herbarium in the way of flowering plants, but he added a considerable number of fungi." Bessey reports that the herbarium contained approximately 15,000 specimens at the time he left.
1889 (spring) Dr. Louis H. Pammel arrives at Iowa State College, following Halsted's move to Rutgers University.
1894 Dr. Pammel arranges for the purchase of the C.C. Parry Collection, which contains approximately 15,000 specimens collected in Iowa, the American west, Mexico, and other areas. The purchase price was $5,000.
1894 George Washington Carver receives a B.S. degree, and is the first African American to do so at Iowa State.
1895 G.W. Carver is appointed "first assistant" in Botany to assist Pammel in botanical instruction.
1900 (December 7) Fire destroys a wing of the building (Old Main) housing the herbarium, but most specimens are saved or salvaged by remounting plant material from charred sheets.
1903 Harriette Kellogg was hired as curator of the herbarium and the botanical library.
1916 Harriette Kellogg dies of pneumonia. In the years preceding her death, she published papers on dye plants and medicinal weeds of Iowa.
1918 Ada Hayden receives a Ph.D.; she is the first woman to receive a Ph.D. at Iowa State College.
1918 Mr. Robert I. Cratty is appointed by Pammel as curator of the herbarium. Cratty brings his collection of more than 7,000 specimens collected primarily in Emmet County, Iowa. These are later donated to the herbarium. The herbarium contains approximately 120,000 specimens when Cratty arrives.
1920 Ada Hayden is appointed Assistant Professor of Botany at Iowa State.
1927 A Report on the Herbarium of Iowa State College, 1927, states that the herbarium consists of 180,000 specimens.
1929 L. H. Pammel resigns as head of the Botany Department and is replaced by Irving E. Melhus.
1933 Mr. Cratty prepares a checklist of Iowa's flora based on specimens in the herbarium.
1934 Ada Hayden becomes functional curator of the herbarium, continuing until her death in 1950.
1936 Dr. George J. Goodman becomes official curator of the herbarium, following Cratty's retirement. His personal herbarium, consisting of approximately 1300 specimens, is added to the herbarium.
1941 Mr. Jacob P. Anderson brings his collection of approximately 30,000 Alaskan plants collected over a forty year span to Iowa State college. They are later given to the herbarium and form the basis for Anderson's Flora of Alaska.
1944 Dr. Goodman leaves Iowa State to become a member of the botany faculty at the University of Oklahoma. Dr. Hayden assumes the official title of Curator of the herbarium.
1944 Dr. Duane Isely is hired as Seed Technologist. He donates his personal herbarium of over 4000 specimens, mostly legumes collected in the eastern U.S., Wyoming, and Colorado, to the Iowa State Herbarium.
1946 Dr. Richard Pohl is appointed to the botany faculty. He brings more than 1000 plants collected on the Texas Plains to add to the herbarium.
1948 Dr. Hayden reports that the herbarium has grown to 250,000 specimens. In addition to the Anderson Collection, Hayden also reports the gift to the herbarium of the Oleson collection containing approximately 23,000 specimens assembled by the Fort Dodge Botanical Club.
1950 Dr. Hayden dies of cancer, Dr. Pohl is appointed curator of the herbarium.
1955 The annual report of the activities of the herbarium for 1954 states that "since 1950, 24,302 new plant specimens have been mounted and added to the herbarium."
1966 Dr. Pohl travels to Costa Rica to collect tropical grasses; this and numerous subsequent trips by Pohl and his graduate students, and more recently by Dr. Lynn Clark, establish a large collection of Central and South American grasses.
1968 The Herbarium and the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology move from "Old Botany" (now Catt Hall) to their current home in Bessey Hall.
1980 The Annual report of the Iowa State Herbarium, 1980, states that the herbarium has grown to contain approximately 350,000 specimens
1984 Ms. Deborah Qualls (now Deborah Lewis) is appointed as a full-time curator of the herbarium. Previously the herbarium was curated by a member of the faculty, with student assistance for day-to-day operations.
1986 Dr. Pohl retires; Dr. Isely is named Director of the herbarium.
1988 The herbarium is named in honor of Ada Hayden; the 400,000th specimen is accessioned into the Ada Hayden Herbarium.
1989 Dr. Lynn G. Clark becomes Director of the Herbarium after Dr. Isely retires.
2003 The herbarium becomes a facility in the newly formed Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology Department
2004 The University of Iowa herbarium (IA) is transferred to the Ada Hayden Herbarium.
Dr. Charles Edwin Bessey, founder and curator of the herbarium, 1870-1884
In 1859, during preliminary planning for Iowa State College, four professorships were authorized. One was in botany. All students were required to take the beginning botany course.
Charles Bessey came to Iowa State in 1870, the year after the college opened. He was hired to teach horticulture, botany, and zoology. Apparently, his first botany students were required to collect and identify plants; these collections were the beginning of the Iowa State Herbarium. By 1872, Dr. Bessey had become Professor of Botany and Zoology.
During his tenure, the herbarium grew to nearly 15,000 specimens. In addition to the herbarium, Dr. Bessey also saw the need for laboratory study of botany. Up until this time, undergraduate study was limited to the library, lecture hall, and field. He started the first "botanical laboratory" in the United States for undergraduate study, and the laboratory included the use of microscopes.
In 1884, while Bessey was serving as Vice-President of the college, a disagreement arose between him and the state legislature. An offer of a Deanship at the University of Lincoln prompted him to leave Iowa State. His fame as a botanist grew during his years at Lincoln, especially after he became author of a new classification of flowering plants.
Dr. Louis Pammel, curator of the herbarium, 1889-1931
Any and every kind of plant attracted Dr. Pammel's attention. He collected and studied everything, from fungi to trees, publishing papers on economically important plants, weeds, plant diseases, and seeds. His publications number nearly 700, including 10 books. However, many of these were completed with help from Charlotte King, Ada Hayden, R.I. Cratty, and others (whether officially acknowledged or not).He was the first botanist of the Agricultural Experiment Station.
Dr. Pammel taught courses in everything from plant taxonomy to pharmaceutical botany and bacteriology. Many of his students went on to successful careers in botany, horticulture, seed science, medicine, and other fields. For example, George Washington Carver, Robert E. Buchanan, J.C. Blumer, and Ada Hayden received training from him.
Dr. Pammel added as many as 50,000 specimens to the herbarium. This was the age of botanical exploration, and he delighted in taking students and colleagues on expeditions to new areas.
Dr. Pammel arranged for the College's purchase of the C.C. Parry Collection, containing specimens from Iowa and the American West. Many of these specimens are types and therefore are of great importance to taxonomic botanists. By the time of Dr. Pammel's death in 1931, the herbarium contained close to 200,000 specimens.
Mr. Robert I. Cratty, curator of the herbarium, 1918-1934
R.I. Cratty's interest in botany began long before he came to Iowa State to serve as curator of the herbarium. Even as a farmer and teacher in a one-room school near Armstrong (Emmet County, Iowa), he must have spent nearly every free moment collecting and studying plants. He published several papers around the turn of the century on the sedges, rushes, aquatic plants, and other flora of Emmet County.
Upon his retirement from teaching and farming he came to Iowa State to continue his research. He was happy to take Dr. Pammel's offer of the position of curator of the herbarium, and became the first "official" curator. During this period he published The Iowa Flora: An annotated list of the ferns, fern allies and the native and introduced flowering plants of the state represented in the Iowa State College Herbarium. It is primarily a checklist, yet it remains as the most recent published attempt to catalogue all of the vascular plants in the state. He donated his personal herbarium of around 7000 specimens, collected mostly in Emmet County and near Ames, to the Iowa State collection.
Dr. Ada Hayden, curator of the herbarium, 1934-1950
"...determined, independent, brusque, eccentric", perhaps even a bit frightening, some called her "the worthy Ada." Ada Hayden was an artist and photographer, a poet in love with plants and prairies, a visionary, and a devoted friend and admirer of L.H. Pammel.
Her numerous herbarium specimens are more nicely prepared and contain more label data than most of those of her contemporaries. Her zeal for the herbarium and for conservation left us a legacy only now being appreciated. She melded her interests with her art, photography and flair for writing, devoting her life to the documentation and conservation of Iowa's few remaining prairies.
For a longer biography, see the Ada Hayden page.
Dr. Richard W. Pohl, curator and director of the herbarium, 1950-1986
Shortly after his arrival at Iowa State, Dr. Pohl and his students began publishing cytological and taxonomic papers on the grasses. Among the earlier papers is his Grasses of Iowa. He published How to Know the Grasses, an introductory survey of the grasses of the United States, in 1967. At around this time, Dr. Pohl made his first trip to Costa Rica, and acquired a lifelong love of tropical grasses. In addition to numerous other papers on Central American grass taxa, he prepared the treatment of the grasses for Flora Costaricensis. He, with his student Gerrit Davidse, contributed the treatments of most of the grass genera for Flora Mesoamericana.
Not all of Dr. Pohl's publications were on grasses. He documented the introduction and distribution of several weed species in Iowa. In 1975, he published the Keys to Iowa Vascular Plants, the only available identification guide to all the major vascular plant groups (and all common species) devoted exclusively to Iowa plants.
Dr. Pohl and his graduate students accumulated an impressive collection of grasses from the Western Hemisphere, with emphasis on Central America.
During Dr. Pohl's tenure as curator, the herbarium grew by more than 100,000 specimens.
Dr. Duane Isely, director of the herbarium, 1986-1989
Dr. Isely gained international recognition for his work in the Leguminosae (bean family). He also published extensively in the areas of seed analysis and weed science. His career at Iowa State University began when he was hired as a Seed Technologist. In 1954 he published Seed Analysis, which became a standard textbook for seed science.
Many students benefited from his course on weed science. Later, research on legumes commanded all of his attention. Dr. Isely and his students produced a series of publications on various groups of legumes of the United States. He contributed the treatments for the legume family for the Flora of the Southeastern United States and the Flora of California.
Dr, Isely provided support and assistance to the herbarium over many years, traveling and collecting legumes and other plant groups to add to the collection. He, along with then department chair Dr. Ronald Coolbaugh, deserves credit for establishing, in 1984, a position of full-time curator for the herbarium.
1869 Charles A. White, a geologist, collects the earliest documented plants for the University of Iowa’s “Cabinet of Natural History” (it is unknown whether these specimens are still in existence).
1873 White leaves the University to join the faculty at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.
1878 Thomas H. Macbride is named as botanist at the University of Iowa, and a Botany Department is initiated under his guidance. A herbarium (IA) is established at the university based on Macbride’s collections.
1890 Bohumil Shimek is named as an instructor in Botany; by 1902 he was a Professor of Botany. He eventually adds 20,000 of his personal collections of Iowa vascular plants to IA, along with many thousands of specimens of other groups, including bryophytes and fungi, and from other places outside of Iowa.
1893 More than 25,000 duplicate specimens from the British Museum are added to IA.
1895 Bohumil Shimek is named as the Curator of the Herbarium.
1909 The A.P. Morgan Collection, containing mostly fungi, is donated to IA by Morgan’s wife, Laura V. Morgan.
1911 Lucy M. Cavanagh becomes Assistant Curator of the Herbarium and continues in that position until her death in 1936.
1923 George W. Martin begins his career at the University of Iowa. His work on fungi and slime molds, in conjunction with that of T.H. Macbride, would eventually result in numerous publications, making him one of the world’s leading mycologists.
1931 William A. Anderson becomes Curator of Vascular Plants, the position he holds until his death in 1949.
1944 Following his retirement from Grinnell College, Henry S. Conard is named as a Visiting Research Professor in Botany. During the ten years of his work at IA, his major projects are curating the thousands of vascular plant and bryophyte specimens collected by Shimek. Conard also donates his own bryophyte and vascular plant collections to IA.
1950 Robert F. Thorne succeeds W.A. Anderson as Curator of Vascular Plants. Through his own research efforts and that of his students, intensive studies of Iowa’s vascular plant flora are intitiated.
1952 Dr. Thorne reports that IA has grown to ca. 143,000 specimens, ranking 35th in size in comparison to U.S. herbaria and 14th among state colleges and universities.
1962 Dr. Thorne leaves the University of Iowa for Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. An estimated 27,000 vascular plant specimens had been added to IA during his tenure.
1963 to 1981 Thomas Melchert and Robert Hulbary serve as Curators of the Vascular Plant and Bryophyte Collections of IA.
1977 Most of IA’s Myxomycete holdings are transferred on permanent loan to the U.S. National Fungus Herbarium (BPI) in Beltsville, MD (approximately 8500 specimens).
1983 Diana Horton is named as Director of the Herbarium and Curator of Vascular Plants and Bryophytes.
1984 The Mycological Collection, with approximately 25,000 specimens including the remaining specimens of Myxyomycetes, is transferred on permanent loan to the Iowa State University Herbarium (ISC).
2004 The remaining holdings of IA, comprising ca. 220,000 specimens, are transferred to ISC.
2005 Following a legal challenge to the transfer, Judge Amanda Potterfield upholds the right of the universities to transfer IA to ISC.
Thomas Huston Macbride (1848-1934), Curator of the herbarium, 1878-1895, administrator and conservationist
In 1878 Thomas H. Macbride was appointed as Assistant Professor of Natural Science by Dr. Samuel Calvin, the Professor of Natural Science at the State University of Iowa (now University of Iowa). In the fall of 1883 he became Professor of Botany and Systematic Zoology, and in 1902 he was made head of the new Department of Botany. From 1914 to 1916, Dr. Macbride served as Acting President of the university. He moved to Seattle, Washington, following his retirement in 1916, but he maintained strong connections and botanical activities in Iowa until his death in 1934.
Dr. Macbride achieved international recognition for his work in mycology. His early work reflects a wide interest in fungi, but he later focused his research efforts on the Myxomycetes (slime molds). His earliest comprehensive text on this group was The North American Slime-Moulds, published in 1899 and revised in 1922. In collaboration with George W. Martin, The Myxomycetes was published in 1934 and stood for many years as the classic reference for these organisms.
Dr. Macbride is also heralded in Iowa for his work in conservation. He joined forces with Louis H. Pammel of Iowa State College (now Iowa State University) to create Iowa’s State Parks system and enact other conservation measures in the state. Recognizing the need for students in natural history areas to be able to gain field experience, he also joined with his colleagues Samuel Calvin, Bohumil Shimek and Robert Whylie in founding Iowa Lakeside Laboratory on the shore of Lake Okoboji near Milford, Iowa.
Andrew Price (A.P.) Morgan (1836-1907), Self-taught, world renowned mycologist
Most of A.P. Morgan’s career was spent in high school education – as a mathematics teacher and school principal in and around Dayton, Ohio. He began his botanical studies while still teaching, but his 23 years of retirement on his farm in Preston, Ohio, provided the opportunity for him to collect and observe fungi. These activities led to more than 40 publications on fungi, several of which described new species. A number of his publications are provided with detailed illustrations that were done by his wife, Laura Vail Morgan.
Following his death, Mrs. Morgan donated his collections, which also contained a number of her original plates of illustrations (some of which are colored with pastels or colored pencils), to IA. The A.P. Morgan Collection then came to ISC when the IA Mycological Collection was transferred to ISC on permanent loan in 1984. The A.P. Morgan Collection continues to be housed separately from the general mycological holdings.
Bohumil Shimek (1861-1937), Curator of the herbarium, 1895-1932 and collector extraordinaire
After having earned a degree seven years earlier at the State University of Iowa, Bohumil Shimek returned to the university in 1890 as an instructor in botany. In 1895 he was named an assistant professor and curator of the herbarium. He later served as head of the Department of Botany and director of Iowa Lakeside Laboratory. Although his first degree was in Civil Engineering, he also excelled in geology, zoology, ecology, conservation, and, of course, botany. W.F. Loehwing includes Prof. Shimek in a series about University of Iowa professors; the chapter titles express this breadth of his interests and work – the Pioneer, the Engineer, the Zoologist, the Geologist, the Botanist, the Educator, the Patriot, and the Citizen.
Prof. Shimek was the most prolific collector of the flora that the state has seen. His many thousands of collections are represented among the herbarium’s holdings of vascular plants, bryophytes, lichens, fungi and slime molds. His extensive travels across the United States, to Nicaragua, and to Czechoslovakia added to the diversity of the herbarium’s holdings, but we are especially grateful for his contributions to our knowledge of Iowa’s flora through specimens he collected in every county in Iowa.
Henry Shoemaker Conard (1874-1971), “Dean of American bryologists”
Henry S. Conard became a professor of botany at Grinnell College in 1906, and there began his studies of Iowa’s bryophyte and vascular plant flora. Dr. Conard is known for his “Grinnell Key” to vascular plants, which he prepared for his students and which went through several editions – this is the first comprehensive key to Iowa’s vascular plants. He also received acclaim for his work on the water lily family (Nymphaeaceae). But Dr. Conard is even better known for his work on the bryophytes, as national publications do indeed refer to him as “the dean of American bryologists.” He established the Moss Clinic at Iowa Lakeside Lab, and his “students” there included such outstanding bryologists as Drs. Winona Welch, Eula Whitehouse, Elva Lawton and Fabius LeBlanc. Dr. Conard also contributed to A.J. Grout’s Moss Flora of North America.
After retiring from the faculty at Grinnell College in 1944, Dr. Conard spent the next 10 years as a Visiting Research Professor at the University of Iowa. During that time he determined and curated the considerable bryophyte collections of Bohumil Shimek. He also donated his personal bryophyte herbarium, containing tens of thousands of his own collections and those he received on exchange, to IA.
George Willard Martin (1886-1971), Mycologist with a special affinity for the slime molds
George W. Martin arrived at the University of Iowa in 1923 as an associate professor of botany. Although T.H. Macbride had retired several years earlier, the two started a collaboration and friendship that lasted until Dr. Macbride’s death in 1934. Together, Macbride and Martin revised Macbride’s earlier treatment of the slime molds – The Myxomycetes was published in 1934. After a further update in 1949, Martin teamed up with C.J. Alexopoulous for the 1969 version, a tome that still stands as the definitive reference for the slime molds. His work on the jelly fungi (Tremellales) was also a major contribution to mycology. In fact, he is described by D.P. Rogers: “He was the unquestioned master of the Tremellales and Myxomycetes, and his classification of the fungi, revised annually for his mycology classes and for each of five editions of Ainsworth and Bisby’s Dictionary [of the Fungi], was the nearest thing to a generally accepted classification that existed.” The many specimens of slime molds and fungi collected by Dr. Martin and his students form the core of the mycological holdings now at ISC.
Robert Folger Thorne (b. 1920), Curator of the herbarium, 1950-1962 and Iowa Flora proponent
Intensive studies of the Iowa flora moved from ISC (where Louis H. Pammel and Ada Hayden had held sway) to IA with the arrival of Dr. Robert F. Thorne in 1950. His many doctoral students were given two options: to work on a major plant family in the state or to survey the flora of one of Iowa’s eight landform regions, while master’s students filled in with county-level floristic surveys. Thus began a fervent gathering of the necessary data for a published Flora of the state. Although an invitation for Dr. Thorne to join the faculty of Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden drew him away from Iowa in 1962, before the Flora could become a reality, the accumulated information and specimens remain invaluable as work toward Dr. Thorne’s dream moves forward even today. A major step toward the goal was accomplished by one of his students, Dr. Lawrence J. Eilers, who (with Dr. Dean M. Roosa) completed The Vascular Plants of Iowa: A Checklist and Natural History. With the addition of collections made by Dr. Thorne and his students, IA grew by more than 27,000 specimens during his tenure.
Anonymous. 1937. In Memoriam: Bohumil Shimek 1861-1937. Proceedings of the Iowa Academy of Science 44: 31-33.
Briggs, J.E. (editor) 1934. Thomas Huston Macbride. The Palimpsest 15: 161-192.
Conard, Rebecca. 1997. Places of Quiet Beauty: Parks, Preserves and Environmentalism. University of Iowa Press, Iowa City. xv + 382 pp.
Eilers, Lawrence J. and Dean M. Roosa. 1994. The Vascular Plants of Iowa: A Checklist and Natural History. University of Iowa Press, Iowa City. xi + 304 pp.
Gabel, Mark L. 1981. The Parry Herbarium. Proceedings of the Iowa Academy of Science 88(4):179.
Hamilton, Clement W. 2002. Robert F. Thorne – Recipient of the 2001 Asa Gray Award. Systematic Botany 27: 1-3.
Hayden, Ada. 1948. The History and Further Development of the Iowa State College Herbarium. Unpublished manuscript.13 typewritten pages.
Hayden, Ada. n.d.[latter half of 1940's]. The History of the Herbarium of Iowa State College. Unpublished manuscript. 4 typewritten pages.
Horton, Diana G. Collections History. Retrieved January 2005 from: http://www.cgrer.uiowa.edu/herbarium/Collecthist.htm.
Hulbary, Robert L. 1972. George Willard Martin 1886-1971. Plant Science Bulletin 18(4).
Isely, Duane. 1988. Botany, Iowa State University, 1868-1988. Departmental publication. 8 pp. (part of publication prepared for review panel by D.G. Glenn-Lewin and J. Nystrom).
Isely, Duane. 1989. Ada Hayden: A Tribute. Journal of the Iowa Academy of Science 96(1):1-5.
Kellerman, W.A. 1907. Obituary: Professor A.P. Morgan. Journal of Mycology 13: 233-236.
Loehwing, Walter F. 1947. Centennial Memoirs: Bohumil Shimek. University of Iowa Press, Iowa City. 36 pp.
Lovell, Jan. 1987. She fought to Save Iowa's Prairies. The Iowan 36(2):22-26, 56-57.
Martin, George W. 1935. Thomas Huston Macbride, an appreciation. The Scientific Monthly 40: 284-286.
McNabb, Harold S., Jr. 1969. An Historical Outline of the First Century of Botanical Instruction at the Iowa State University of Science and Technology, Ames, Iowa. Unpublished manuscript. 22 typewritten pages.
Mertins, Clarence T. and Duane Isely. 1981. Charles E. Bessey: Botanist, Educator, and Protagonist. Iowa State Journal of Research 56(2):131-148.
Pammel, L.H., I.E. Melhus, and RI Cratty. 1927. Report on the Herbarium of Iowa State College, 1927. Unpublished manuscript. 50 typewritten pages.
Pohl, Marjorie C. 1985. Louis H. Pammel: Pioneer Botanist A Biography. Proceedings of the Iowa Academy of Science 29(1)[Special Issue]:1-50.
Pohl, Marjorie C. 1997. Richard W. Pohl: Distinguished Botanist. A Biography. Journal of the Iowa Academy of Science 104(3):56-76.
Rogers, Donald P. 1981. A Brief History of Mycology in North America (augmented edition). Mycological Society of America. 86 pp.
Shimek, Bohumil. 1934. In Memoriam: Thomas Huston Macbride 1848-1934. Proceedings of the Iowa Academy of Science 41: 33-37.
Thorne, Robert F. 1951. Herbarium of the State University of Iowa. Proceedings of the Iowa Academy of Science 58: 215-219.
Welch, Winona H. and Fabius LeBlanc. 1972. Henry S. Conard (1874-1971). The Bryologist 75: 558-565.
Also various unpublished "Annual Reports" of the Iowa State University Herbarium, especially for the years 1955 to present.