History of Botany in the Rhode Island Area
Danforth, Susan .
Some Sources for Botanical History in the John Carter Brown Library.
Since 1846, the John Carter Brown Library has collected printed materials—books, maps, and prints focusing on the expansion of Europe to the Western Hemisphere—published from 1492 to the end of the colonial period. This broad concept, the “expansion of Europe,” covers many subject areas. In terms of the history of botany, the collection can offer insight into earlier ecological conditions through the eyes of Europeans who were assessing New World resources to determine how they could enhance Old World economies.
Sources that are not strictly botanical in focus, such as settlement tracts and accounts of exploration into the interior that were intended to entice investors and colonists, can offer insight into a region’s ecological identity in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. While these sources need to be assessed with a critical eye (it’s always a good idea to ask who paid to publish the information) it is equally certain that insights into the populations and distributions of New World flora and fauna during the early contact period can be teased out of many of these titles and can often provide insights when hard data are difficult to come by.
My talk will will highlight sources for botanical research in several areas: historical ethnobotany (Nicolas Monardes, Dos libros, 1565, and Joyfull newes, 1577); colonial medical botany (William Piso, Brasiliae, 1648, John Josselyn, New Englands rarities, 1675); regional natural histories (Oviedo, Hystoria de las Indias, 1526, Romans, East and West Florida, 1775); scientific botany, both pre-Linnean (Sloane, Voyage to Jamaica, 1701, Catesby, Hortus, London, 1767); and Linnean (Kalm, Travels, 1770, Ellis, Directions for bringing seeds and plants, 1770), among others. This presentation will be supplemented by materials from the John Carter Library collection that will be shown on the afternoon field trip to the Library.
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1 - Brown University, John Carter Brown Library, Providence, RI, 02912, USA
Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Location: Ballroom B/Convention Center
Date: Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010
Time: 8:15 AM