The North American botanical frontier did not always coincide with
Frederick Jackson Turner's famous, westward-moving North-South line,
which he generalized from the pattern of settlement. Botanical exploration
generally followed lines of transportation and of military campaign;
it sometimes lagged behind Turner's frontier, and it sometimes shot
ahead, leaving unexplored pockets. Some of these geographical areas
were finally closed as botanical "frontiers" only in the twentieth
century, long after Turner's line reached the Pacific in 1890. This
exhibit explores three of those pockets described in the twentieth
century and the frontier spirit that drives botanical exploration.
These vignettes also show the importance of archives for retrieving
botanical history. Original documents have the power to shed new
light on the relationships between botany and culture. Themes that
run through the exhibit include the relationships between individuals
and institutions, the impacts of transportation and technology on
botany, and the connections between botanical projects and economics.
We hope that these glimpses will prompt current botanists to think
about arranging for preservation of their own photographs, correspondence,
field notes, and manuscripts - their own pieces of botanical history.
Click any of the three images on the right to follow their stories.