I visited the Herbarium with Rachel, who’s delighted to have a work-study job there. What a lovely Victorian place, with long windows looking out onto the UVM campus and Vermont hills. There are computers (you can see a Mac here), but otherwise researchers here are doing much as their nineteenth-century predecessors did. Rachel’s job is sorting and filing the large cards on which plant specimens are mounted. (What a great way for her to learn about plant species, and I learned that asters are one of the largest of plant families – they fill a whole wall.) She showed me how far back the collection goes, pointing out that 1899 and that whole decade had been a good time for plant collecting. I found myself wondering about the people who had contributed to the collection and whether information about them is recorded anywhere. There is such a lot of history that isn’t, and will probably never be, online.
The Herbarium at the University of Vermont
About the Author: Karen Christensen
Karen Christensen is an entrepreneur, environmentalist, and scholar who writes about the many ways women have gained and wielded power. She is the owner and CEO of Berkshire Publishing Group, a former trustee of the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Press, a member of the National Committee on US-China Relations, and the founder of the Train Campaign. Subscribe to Karen’s Letter @Substack https://karenchristensen.substack.com or try her Home Ecology newsletter. She can also be found on Twitter @karenchristenze.
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