The Herbarium, established in 1921 to bring together various botanical collections that had been developing almost from the time of the University's founding in Ann Arbor, has as its central purpose research in plant systematics and geography, and maintenance and development of specimen collections that provide data for and document such research. Between 1940 and 1975 the staff and facilities of the Herbarium were enlarged and diversified, and the collections made more generally available to scholars both within and without the University. Also during this period the Herbarium moved to a closer collaboration with the Department of Botany through joint faculty appointments and increased use of the Herbarium by Departmental students doing doctoral research in plant systematics. This tie was strengthened when the Herbarium, whose Director originally reported to the President of the University, was incorporated into the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts in 1956.

In 1940 the Herbarium had a faculty of five, and its strongest collections were those of fungi and flowering plants. Edwin Butterworth Mains (1890-1968), who had succeeded Calvin Henry Kauffman (1869-1931) as Director in 1931, carried on the tradition of research on fungi that had been built up by Kauffman. The mycological group also included, as Curators, Bessie Bernice Kanouse (1889-1969), who had been appointed in 1926, and Alexander Hanchett Smith, who had joined the staff first as a Research Assistant in 1932. The flowering plants were in charge of Cyrus Longworth Lundell, who had come to the Herbarium in 1935 and succeeded John Henry Ehlers (1878-1977) as Curator of Phanerogams and Ferns in 1939. William Randolph Taylor had been made Curator of Algae (nonsalaried) when he joined the Botany Department in 1930 (and has continued in charge of the algal collection even after his retirement in 1966).

Mains further built up the faculty of the Herbarium in the 1940s. Joyce Hedrick Jones, who had been Research Assistant in charge of the small but significant collection of lichens since 1929, was made part-time Curator in 1944 and served until 1959. William Campbell Steere, of the Botany Department, was Curator of Bryophytes (nonsalaried) from 1945 to 1950. In 1946 Rogers McVaugh succeeded Lundell, who had moved to Southern Methodist University in 1944, as Curator of Phanerogams (the title later changed to Curator of Vascular Plants). Smith had been given a nonsalaried professorial appointment in the Botany Department in 1945, at the time that his title in the Herbarium was changed to Botanist, and beginning with the McVaugh appointment, all new Herbarium faculty members have also had professorial titles in the Department, with the appointments sometimes divided budgetarily between the two units.

Since 1950, under a succession of Directors (Mains, until his retirement in 1959; Smith, 1959-72; McVaugh, 1972-75; Robert Lynn Shaffer, beginning in 1975), the Herbarium has sought to provide opportunities for research in all major groups of plants. To this end, the collections and library holdings in all groups have been strengthened and a faculty with broad research and curatorial interests has been maintained. The flowering plants and fungi have continued as the largest collections, and the most attractive to researchers, including graduate students. As a result, the faculty was enlarged by the appointment of Edward Groesbeck Voss as Curator in Vascular Plants (1960) and William Russell Anderson as Associate Curator of Vascular Plants (1974). Smith continued as Curator of Fungi until his retirement in 1975 and in 1960 was joined by Shaffer as Curator of Fungi succeeding Kanouse, who had recently retired. At the same time, the smaller collections have not been neglected.

Rudolf Mathias Schuster succeeded Steere as Curator of Bryophytes (1956-57), but soon resigned to take a post at the University of Massachusetts, and in 1965 Howard Alvin Crum was appointed Curator of Bryophytes and Lichens. Warren Herbert Wagner, Jr., of the Botany Department, was named Curator of Pteridophytes (nonsalaried) in 1961. This appointment was timely since three years earlier the Herbarium had purchased, with the help of a matching grant from the National Science Foundation, the private herbarium of the famous pteridologist E. B. Copeland, consisting of some 25,000 specimens, including 500 holotypes, of ferns mostly from the Old World Tropics.

In 1940 the Herbarium held an estimated total of 340,000 specimens. As the collections have grown to their present size of approximately 1,414,000 specimens, it has continued to maintain balance in its representation of the major groups and at the same time has increased its geographical representation by carefully controlled selection of new specimens that are offered to it. As the size and quality of the collections have increased so has the reputation of the Herbarium, both nationally and internationally. In the three decades following World War II the use of the collections by researchers at all levels has more than tripled, and their importance as a research resource has been correspondingly enhanced and increasingly recognized. In 1974 the Herbarium was designated by a committee of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists as one of 25 National Resource Center Collections in the United States, and, from a consideration of both the quantity and quality of its physical resources and the size and professional activities of its staff, it was ranked among the top three herbaria in the country, along with the New York Botanical Garden and the Missouri Botanical Garden. Since 1975 the National Science foundation, recognizing the significance of the Herbarium to the field of systematic botany, has provided substantial financial support for its curatorial functions.

Probably the greatest impetus to the growth, diversification, and use of the collections was provided by Harley Harris Bartlett (1886-1960), who after his retirement from the University in 1957 turned over to the Herbarium almost a half-million specimens gathered together during his long career in the Department of Botany and the Botanical Gardens. Never officially a member of the Herbarium staff, Bartlett had maintained his rich collections from Asia, the Pacific basin, South America, and various parts of North America as a semi-official University possession. Acquisition of the Bartlett material, and the University's response to this, helped to change the Herbarium from a medium-sized and mostly locally oriented institution to a large and more diversified one, with interests in many parts of the world.

By 1940 the Herbarium had almost outgrown the quarters in the Museums Building which it had occupied since 1928, and by 1950 its space problem had become acute. Acquisition of the Bartlett collection made it impossible for the Herbarium to remain in its old quarters. The University provided funds for the organization of the collection, and Annetta Carter, of the University of California, spent 13 months in Ann Arbor in the period 1957-59 supervising the task. She was aided by Jennie Van Akkeren Dieterle, who subsequently joined the staff as Herbarium Botanist and later became Assistant Curator of Vascular Plants. At the same time the University, with a subvention from the National Science Foundation, provided new and enlarged quarters in the North University Building, to which the Herbarium moved in 1960. Assimilation of the Bartlett material was not completed until 1978.

Research in the Herbarium has continued to be based in large part on the specimens, which it holds. A principal focus has been work on the flora of Michigan, begun by the Michigan Geological Survey in 1837 and carried on by specialists at the University and elsewhere into the present. Noteworthy contributions since 1940 have been those of Smith (The Boletes of Michigan, with Harry Thiers, 1971), Crum (Mosses of the Great Lakes Forest, 1973) and Voss (Michigan Flora, Part I, Gymnosperms and Monocots, 1972). Because of its interest in the flora of the State, the Herbarium has been given several large collections rich in vascular-plant specimens from particular areas, notably the private herbarium of R. R. Dreisbach of Midland (1954) and the herbarium of the Grand Rapids Public Museum (1974), with much material from southwestern Michigan.

Other research has diversified along the lines of interest of the faculty. Smith has added enormously to the collections of North American higher fungi and has written many books and articles on their taxonomy, as well as on popular aspects of mycology. Kanouse studied mainly discomycetes, and Mains published extensively on the rusts, earth-tongues, and insecticolous fungi. Shaffer conducts research on the gill-mushroom genus Russula and other higher fungi. Taylor has become a world authority on marine algae with wide interests in both Atlantic and Pacific basins. His private collection of algal specimens is being donated to the Herbarium. Crum has brought nearly to completion a long-time work on the moss flora of eastern North America, in conjunction with Lewis Anderson of Duke University, and carries on taxonomic and phytosociological studies of North American Sphagna. Voss, in addition to his work on the Michigan flora has taken an active part in international affairs in the subject of botanical nomenclature. George Frederick Estabrook, who was named Research Scientist in 1974, is a biomathematician who works on the management and analysis of data by computers and the estimation of evolutionary relationships among kinds of organisms.

As early as the 1930s Mains, Bartlett, and Lundell had become interested in the flora of Mexico and Central America, and subsequently Taylor, Steere, Schuster, Crum, Dieterle, and McVaugh have all been active in the study of tropical American botany. McVaugh has been largely instrumental in building at Michigan one of the best collections of Mexican vascular plants in the world. His research has been directed toward the Mexican flora and in the field of botanical history, also primarily that of tropical America. Anderson, since his arrival in 1974, has extended the interest to South America, especially Brazil, and has become an expert on the tropical family Malpighiaceae.

Honors in the form of awards, editorships of major botanical journals, and offices in scientific societies have come to many of the Herbarium faculty. Taylor, Smith, McVaugh, and Wagner have all received the Botanical Society of America's Certificate of Merit. Medals from foreign societies have been presented to Taylor and McVaugh. Smith, Crum, and McVaugh have had terms as editors of Mycologia, The Bryologist, and Brittonia, respectively. Society presidencies include those of the Phycological Society of America (Taylor, 1948), the Mycological Society of America (Mains, 1942; Smith 1950; Shaffer, 1973), the American Bryological and Lichenological Society (Crum, 1962), the American Fern Society (Wagner, 1970), the American Society of Plant Taxonomists (McVaugh, 1956; Wagner, 1966), the Society for the Study of Evolution (Wagner, 1972), and the International Association for Plant Taxonomy (McVaugh, 1972-75).

Training of graduate students is an important part of the activity of the Herbarium faculty. Since 1950 approximately one-third of all Ph.D. graduates in Botany have had a member of this faculty as their major adviser. In large measure because of the Herbarium the University of Michigan remains one of the few places in the United States where a student can obtain first-rate professional training in systematic botany.

Rogers McVaugh

Robert L. Shaffer

The University of Michigan, An Encyclopedic Survey Supplement, pages 1-6

History of the University of Michigan

Herbarium 1940-1970