Delaware County Institute of Science herbaria collection
Held at: Delaware County Institute of Science [Contact Us]11 Veterans Square, Media, PA, 19063
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Delaware County Institute of Science. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
The Delaware County Institute of Science, located in Media, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, was established in 1833 by local residents with a common interest in science and natural history. Shortly after its founding, the Institute started its herbarium. A herbarium is a collection of pressed, dried plants. Specimens collected for personal use in the 19th century were often glued or sewn into books or pamphlets. Today, specimens are attached to acid-free sheets of paper with linen strips and glue.
Many of the Institute's specimens were collected by its first president, Dr. George Smith (1804-1882), a local doctor, judge, naturalist, and state senator, who donated his personal collection of 2,400 specimens to the Institute's existing specimens in 1869. Many other members added to the Institute's herbarium: John Evans, Minshall Painter, Joshua Hoopes, Isaac Burk, Thomas C. Porter, Benjamin H. Smith, William M. Canby, C. S. Sargent, Francis Pennell, A. E. Osborne, Linnaeus Fussell, T. Chalkley Palmer, Graceanna Lewis, and others. Specimens continued to be added to the Institute's herbarium until the mid-20th century.
Delaware County Institute of Science. "Herbarium." 2013. Accessed August 12, 2014. http://delcoscience.org/herbarium/.
Hornberger, Kathy. "Herbarium Display." April 12, 2008. Exhibit text viewed on-site August 5, 2014.
This collection consists of herbaria organized into two series: I. Delaware County Institute of Science herbarium, II. Additional herbaria.
The Delaware County Institute of Science herbarium contains approximately 5,700 specimens of vascular plants (including Dr. George Smith's) that are organized alphabetically within five major plant groups, indicated by adhesive colored dots: monocotyledons (monocots), dicotyledons (dicots), gymnosperms, ferns, and fern allies. The specimens include many from the United States, but also some from other parts of the world. They were collected by members of the Institute, both amateur and professional botanists, or by way of a specimen exchange through correspondence between local botanists and botanists located elsewhere (nationally and internationally). Most of the specimens date from the 19th century, but the Institute continued to collect and add specimens until the mid-20th century. Many of the specimen labels include the name of collector, location where the specimen was collected, name of the specimen, and date of collection, but information for many of the earlier specimens is limited or vague.
The Additional herbaria series contains multiple small herbaria donated to the Institute by various sources, not considered part of the Institute's official herbarium. Many of these herbaria are housed in 19th century scrapbooks, although there is at least one modern (early 21st century) collection of common Pennsylvania invasive plants compiled by Institute curator Dr. Kathy Hornberger for teaching botany at Widener University (in Chester, PA). The amount of information about the specimens varies by herbaria; some are not labeled or are unclear. Specimens include Darjeeling ferns, algae, mosses, and other plants. Some specimens have become detached from their mountings in the scrapbooks or have fallen out over time.
Specimens collected by the Delaware County Institute of Science's members over time.
Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2012-2014 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.
In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact Delaware County Institute of Science directly for more information.
- Delaware County Institute of Science
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Sarah Leu through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
- This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
- Access Restrictions
Contact Delaware County Institute of Science for information about accessing this collection.