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.

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 initiated.

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.

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