Thoreau's Herbarium
Henry David Thoreau may be best known as a writer, but he was also a botanist who collected specimens of New England plants. In 1842 he started to identify the plants noted in his journal with Latin names. The publication in 1848 of the "Manual of botany of the Northern United States" by Harvard professor Asa Gray informed Thoreau's knowledge of botany. His earliest specimens were collected in 1850 and his herbarium became his reference guide to determine the identity of plants found in Concord and other New England localities. As the years passed his collection grew to about 900 specimens.
Only about half of the specimens include the location where the specimen was collected, but most include a Latin plant name, usually written in pencil in a casual manner.
This collection of 647 sheets was given by Thoreau to the Boston Society of Natural History. Some years later the Society gave the herbarium to the Concord Free Public Library. In 1959 the Library donated Thoreau's Herbarium of historically significant specimens to Harvard's Gray Herbarium. The remainder of the collection is deposited in the New England Botanical Club Herbarium. All of the specimens are curated by the Harvard University Herbaria in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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