Edmund Berkeley; Dorothy Smith Berkeley:

A Yankee botanist in the Carolinas

The Reverend Moses Ashley Curtis, D.D. (1808-1872)

1986. 1. edition, 242 pages, 14x22cm, 440 g
Language: English

ISBN 978-3-443-50005-4, paperback, price: 41.00 €

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Asa Gray wrote of his good friend Moses Ashley Curtis at the time of Curtis’ death: “By his unremitting and well-directed labors, filling the intervals of an honored and faithful professional life, he has richly earned the gratitude of the present and ensuing generations of botanists.” This biography is intended to ensure that ensuing generations are familiar with his life and work. This is the first full-length biographical study.

Curtis was a native of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and a graduate of Williams College. His adult life was largely spent as an Episcopal clergyman serving parishes in North and South Carolina. Although he had received little instruction in botany at Williams, he began a study of the seed plants around Wilmington, North Carolina, very soon after his arrival there in 1830. In 1835 he published, in the Journal of the Boston Society of Natural History, with advice from Gray and John Torrey, “An Enumeration of Plants Growing Spontaneously Around Wilmington, North Carolina.” His “Catalog” of plants of that state eventually totalled 4849 species. In 1846, feeling that he had largely completed his study of higher plants, he abruptly turned his attention to the fungi, a study begun in North Carolina, between 1811 and 1820, by Lewis David von Schweinitz. Having been assured by Gray that there was no botanist in the United States who could assist him, he sought the help of the Reverend Miles Joseph Berkeley of England, a well-recognized authority. During the following twenty-six years the two clergymen collaborated enthusiastically in the study of North American fungi. Their extensive correspondence has been published by Ronald H. Petersen (The Mycological Association of M. J. Berkeley and M. A. Curtis, 1980 J. Cramer). In the course of their studies Curtis became, as Gray expressed it, “the highest American authority.”

Contents top ↑

Abbreviations 8
Preface 9
New England Heritage 13
A Journey to Carolina 29
The North Revisited 43
Problems of a Young Clergyman- 51
A Home in Hillsborough 67
A New Interest and a New Parish 87
The Maturation of a Mycologist 107
The Scheinitzian Herbarium 125
The British—American Collaboration 145
The Family Moves Again 161
Botany on the Democratic System 181
Lonely Years for a Southern Botanist 195
Thoughts of Retirement 209
Evaluation 227
Appendix 231
Bibliography 235
Index 241