ISC People

Dr. Charles Edwin Bessey, founder and curator of the herbarium, 1870-1884

Photo of Charles Bessey, founder of the herbariumIn 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. Read more about ISC People

ISC Timeline

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. Read more about ISC Timeline

IA Timeline

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. Read more about IA Timeline


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. Read more about Sources

Ada Hayden

Curator, Iowa State Herbarium, 1934-1950

Photograph of Ada HaydenAda Hayden was the first woman to receive a doctorate at Iowa State College (now called Iowa State University). She was born on August 14, 1884, in rural Ames, the only child of David and Christina Hayden. Dr. Louis Pammel, a professor at Iowa State College, encouraged her to study botany at the college. After receiving her bachelor's degree in 1908, she first became a graduate assistant at the Shaw School of Botany in Missouri, and then, in 1910, obtained a master's degree in botany from Washington University in St. Louis. She returned to Iowa State as both a botany instructor and a graduate student in 1911. Her doctorate was earned in 1918, making her the fourth student, male or female, to obtain a Ph.D. at Iowa State College. Read more about Ada Hayden