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Lenhardt Library of the Chicago Botanic Garden Digitized Collections: Scientific Notebooks

Pierre Étienne Simon Duchartre (1811-1894)

PHOTO: Pierre Étienne Simon Duchartre (1811-1894) From: Société botanique de France. 1854. Bulletin de la Société botanique de France. (Paris: Société botanique de France, 1854), plate 1.

Pierre Étienne Simon Duchartre (1811-1894)
From: Société botanique de France. 1854. Bulletin de la Société botanique de France. (Paris: Société botanique de France, 1854), plate 1.


Collection of manuscript notes, drawings, and photographs on lilies, 1870-1880

Collection of manuscript notes, drawings, and photographs on lilies, 1870-1880. Research notes, drawings, manuscripts, photographs, 1 reprint article and 1 seed packet relating to the cultivation of lilies, dated principally between 1870 and 1880. Pierre Etienne Simon Duchartre was a French botanist and one of the founders, in 1854, of the Botanical Society of France. The Asian species of lily, Lilium duchartrei is named after him. Three envelopes contain Duchartre's notes on the germination of a number of varieties of lilies along with illustrative pencil drawings. Included with these notes are undated black and white photographs of lilies along with persons involved in their cultivation, with the stamp of Alfred Unger on the back. Also included are 1 partially illegible letter addressed to Monsieur Abbé Souillet from Alfred Unger dated November 1936 and 1 packet of lily seeds dated Oct. 6, 1878. To accompany one manuscript is the reprint of an article by Duchartre which appeared in the Journal de la Société centrale d'Horticulture de France in 1872 titled, "Observations sur la structure et la multiplication par carieux de l'oignon du Lilium thomsonianum (Lindl.)."

Collection of manuscript notes, drawings, and photographs on lilies. 1870-1880, p. 182.

Duchartre's rendering of Lilium candidum, Lilium bulbiferum, & Lilium martagon based on t. 6 from Zur Morphologie der monokotylischen Knollen- und Zwiebelgewächse, 1850.

Duchartre, Pierre Etienne Simon. [Collection of manuscript notes, drawings, and photographs on lilies]. 1870-1880, p. 182.

Philip Henry Gosse (1810–1888)

PHOTO: Philip Henry Gosse (1810–1888)

Philip Henry Gosse (1810–1888)

Notes on orchid culture [manuscript], 1861–1875

[Notes on orchid culture] [Manuscript]. Manuscript notes by the English self-taught naturalist, Philip Henry Gosse, dated between 1861 and 1875, on the breeding and cultivation of orchids. 

Items entitled Orchid notes, dated 1861-1871, consist of ca. 148 unbound leaves of letters, pencil sketches, and notes.

The notes, many of which are written on the back of publication announcements, printer's waste, and scraps of personal letters, document Gosse's experiments cross-breeding different types of orchids, and include his tables recording orchid varieties, growing time, success in flowering, number of bulbs produced, and potting methods. He also made notes on the growers from whom he purchased certain plants.

There are three letters to Gosse in Torquay, England, from Sir Joseph Hooker, botanist and director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, dated 1861-1867, containing detailed notes on orchid cultivation, as well as letters from Charles Leach [?], dated 1863-1864, and Edward Stanford, dated 1871.

Papers are laid in the empty binding of volume 1 of The floral world, with Gosse's own ms. label on front cover: Gosse. Orchid notes, and printed label 449, possibly a Gosse shelf-mark. Accompanying the loose notes is a standard composition notebook, entitled simply Orchids, containing 114 bound leaves, and 30 laid-in leaves, of additional notes by Gosse from 1863-1875.

A synopsis of cultivated orchids [manuscript] : (supplementary to Folia Orchidae). Autograph manuscript catalog of cultivated orchids, dated 1874, by Philip Henry Gosse.

Gosse's preface, dated October 1874, indicates that his Synopsis contains a list of the genera and species of cultivated orchids not included in Professor John Lindley's Folia orchidacea : an enumeration of the known species of orchids, first published by J. Matthews in London in 1852.

For each genus, Gosse provides a detailed physical description, and a list of the related species. For each species, he includes the country where it flourishes, and bibliographic references to books from his own library.

These sources are listed on p. iii-iv, and identified under each species by a series of reference letters. Entries in violet ink refer to Gosse's own drawings from life, either line drawings or full colored illustrations.

There are also numerous indexes to the species throughout, and an index to the genera on leaves 190-192.

Stories from the Rare Book Collection: Philip Henry Gosse

Philip Henry Gosse's orchidophilia

July 2012

PHOTO: Philip Henry Gosse

Philip Henry Gosse (1810–1888) was the perfect example of the citizen scientist of the nineteenth century. At various points in his life, he worked as a clerk, teacher, evangelist, and bird collector. However, he is best known today for his efforts to popularize science, making a weekend at the beach into a zoological expedition of the first order. He started a Victorian craze for aquaria, encouraging the use of these tanks in homes to encourage an interest in natural history especially among the young. Unfortunately, his son, Edmund, wrote a largely inaccurate portrait in Father and Son (originally published in 1907 and still in print), painting Philip Henry in not the most flattering light as parent.

The death of Philip Henry's wife, Emily, early in 1857 from breast cancer pushed Gosse into the creation of his magnum opus, an effort to reconcile science and religion. His efforts resulted in the book Omphalos: An attempt to untie the geological knot; this book was a huge failure. In response, Gosse turned to his plants, especially his orchids, retreating to his home and greenhouse in Torquay, Devon.

Gosse was passionate, perhaps even a little mad, for orchids. That statement is based on much evidence that Gosse collected, grew, and otherwise occupied himself with orchids for much of the last decades of his life. In a letter to a W. Lavers, dated February 26 1877, Gosse admitted to delight in his friends being smitten by his disease or as he called it, "orchid mania." An active epistolarian, another letter from Gosse to Charles Darwin, dated April 5, 1864, reveals that Gosse imported orchids by the barrel from the Amazon ("In a barrel of Orchids that was sent me last Autumn from the Amazon …"). He indicated to Darwin that a particular barrel was largely composed of Catasetum tridentatum, and hoped to find someone to exchange Catasetum for "Vanda, or Phalænopsis." I would think collecting orchids by the barrel would be sufficient evidence for orchidmania! Though Phalænopsis was the favorite orchid of Rex Stout's fictional Nero Wolfe, Gosse certainly was more dedicated in terms of his single-minded devotion to orchids than the fictional detective Wolfe.


Page from Gosse's notebooks.
Click image above for larger view.

The Lenhardt Library is quite fortunate to have three notebooks by Philip Henry Gosse, illustrating his fascination for orchids. The notebooks were once part of the personal library of Albert Cameron Burrage (1859-1931). Upon Burrage's death, his library became part of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society Library. In turn, a portion of that library eventually arrived at the Chicago Botanic Garden in 2002.

Burrage was well known for his own orchid mania, growing orchids to rival Gosse and Wolfe as well as collecting books and manuscripts on orchids from a variety of sources. Burrage was president of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society and the first president of the American Orchid Society. Burrage's collection of orchids was called the "greatest collection of exotic orchids in the New World." For his collection and interest in orchids, Burrage was awarded the George R. White Medal of Honor from the American Orchid Society as well as the Lindley Medal from the Royal Horticultural Society.

In the notebook labeled by Gosse as "A synopsis of cultivated orchids (supplementary to Folia Orchidac.)" Gosse sets out to update John Lindley's (1799-1865) inventory, originally published in 1855. Gosse writes in the "Preface":

"In this Synopsis I have enumerated the genera and species of cultivated Orchids, that are not included in Professor Lindley's 'Folia Orchidacea.' I have given a resume of the characters of each genus; a reference to the definition of each species; and illustrative figures; — so far only as those data are to be collected from works existing in my own library. P.H.G. October 1874"

Gosse's library must have been of considerable size, given the wealth of literature that he refers to in this work, which was never published. Gosse indeed was not interested in publishing anything about orchids or even selling some of his floral offspring to orchid merchant James Vetch. According to Gosse's biographer, Ann Thwaite, Gosse grew orchids for the "delight of myself, family and friends." He rebuffed a publisher by writing that "as a matter of taste I find the cultivation of plants more agreeable than the writing of books … ."


Page from Gosse's notebooks.
Click image above for larger view.

Two other notebooks include many notes describing Gosse's hybridization experiments as well as his own efforts to understand the mysteries of orchid reproduction. One notebook includes a number of letters sent to Gosse in response to questions and observations on his beloved plants. Several letters from Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817-1911) reveal the intensity of Gosse's research; a long letter from Hooker at Kew discusses the problems in maintaining proper temperatures in greenhouses for Indian orchids.

These notebooks illustrate the intensity of Gosse's interest in orchids. A regular correspondent with Charles Darwin, Gosse certainly influenced Darwin's thinking about orchid reproduction. Darwin complemented Gosse's observational skills, leading Darwin to recognize the significance of self-fertilization in some orchids (especially those in colder climates with less assistance from insects or other agents).

Perhaps in the near future these notebooks will find a larger audience in a reprinting both online and in print. They certainly illustrate individual dedication in understanding the natural world, as represented by orchids, but also demonstrate how scientific "networks" operated in the nineteenth century, at the speed of post.


Edward J. Valauskas, Curator of Rare Books
July 2012

Friedrich ("Fritz") Wilhelm Ludwig Kränzlin (1847–1934)

Friedrich ("Fritz") Wilhelm Ludwig Kränzlin (1847–1934) From: Steve Manning and Rudolf Jenny, Discovering New World Orchids (Nantwich: Manning, 2010), p. 511.

Friedrich ("Fritz") Wilhelm Ludwig Kränzlin (1847–1934)
From: Steve Manning and Rudolf Jenny, Discovering New World Orchids (Nantwich: Manning, 2010), p. 511.


Descriptions of orchid genera [manuscript], 1880–1908

Descriptions of orchid genera [manuscript], 1880-1908. Manuscript orchid diagnoses, letters, original botanical sketches, chromolithograp​h botanical prints, off-prints of journal articles, and leaves of printed texts, dated between 1880 and 1908, compiled by Friedrich ("Fritz") Kränzlin, in Gross Lichterfelde (Berlin),German​y, and used in preparation of his work, Orchidacearum genera et species, only 2 v. of which were published in Berlin by Meyer & Müller (v. 1 in 1901 and v. 2, pt. 1 in 1904).

Illustration: Manuscript 1, page 20.

The bulk of the material consists of small pencil sketches or tracings of orchids on tracing paper, accompanied by Kränzlin's diagnoses, or technical descriptions in Latin of the distinguishing characteristics of the various orchid genera, following a previously-​published arrangement, as evidenced by the green cloth book spines, gold-stamped with title "Orchidaceae" and vol. numbers, which are found in each bundle.

There are also more detailed original drawings of orchids in pencil, or pen-​and-​watercolor. Accompanying Kränzlin's copious drawings and notes, are numerous prints of orchids-​-​line-​engraved and hand-colored, or chromolithograp​hed-​-​ by well-known botanical illustrators J.N. Fitch, Miss [Sarah Ann] Drake, and Jeanne Koch, by botanists such as Harry Bolus, and F.C. Lehmann. and by lithographers including the Belgian artist François Stroobant, and printed by George Barclay, Emil Laue, L. Snelling, and C.F. Schmidt.

Many of these prints have been taken from botanical periodicals such as "The garden", "L'orchidophile​", and "Gartenflora". There are also printed leaves from botanical texts, horticultural society proceedings, and periodicals such as "The gardeners' chronicle", and offprints of articles on orchids by Kränzlin and other botanists which appeared in journals including "Queensland agricultural journal", "Garten-​Zeitung", and "Gartenflora".

Collectanea orchidacea [manuscript], circa 1890–1929

Collectanea orchidacea [manuscript]. Eight manuscript notebooks compiled by Dr. Fritz Kränzlin in Berlin, Wolfenbuttel, and Gross-Lichterfelde, Germany, between 1892 and 1929, containing more than 2000 orchid diagnoses, notes, pencil sketches of new orchid species, clippings and transcriptions of articles from numerous botanical journals, and correspondence from other orchidologists and orchid hunters and growers around the world.

The notebooks, numbered 1-6, 8-9, (number 7 lacking) contain the orchid diagnoses and research notes that Kränzlin used to write his Orchidacearum genera et species, only the first 2 v. of which were ever published. (Vol. 1, and v. 2, pt. 1 published in Berlin by Meyer & Muller in 1901 and 1904, respectively.)

Although the notebooks refer to works published as early as the 1840s, Kränzlin probably began assembling them around 1890 [?], and continued to work on them through 1929. He read and corresponded with orchidologists throughout the world, including Australia, South Africa, German New Guinea, Japan, England, America, Colombia, and Chile.

Some of the authors whose work appears in the notebooks include Ferdinand Jacob Heinrich Muller, George Bentham, Joseph Hooker, Glaudio Gay, Henry Ogg Forbes, Friedrich Anton Wilhelm Miquel, Rudolf Schlechter, L[ilian] S[uzette] Gibbs, Heinrich Gustav Reichenbach, Robert Rolfe, Adolf Engler, John Lindley, and Robert Knuds Friedrich Pilger.

The notebooks also contain articles clipped from journals such as Botanische Zeitung (Berlin), Gardener's chronicle, Curtis's botanical magazine, Botanical gazette (Chicago, Ill.), Botanical register (London, Eng.), Edward's botanical register, Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, Victorian naturalist, Calcutta journal of natural history, Garden & forest, Queensland agricultural journal, Tokyo botanical magazine, Bulletin de la Societe Botanique de France, Bulletin de l'herbier boissier, and Bulletin of the New York Botanic Garden.

Stories from the Rare Book Collection: Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig Kränzlin

The fate of gardens and their collections in war

November 2013

PHOTO: Post-war Berlin

Cultural institutions suffer greatly during wars; animals die in zoos, art is looted from museums, books and manuscripts are stolen and sold on black markets. Gardens are particularly damaged during armed conflicts because it is difficult to relocate the contents of a living museum.

During World War II, in spite of regulations, international agreements, and even the requests of royalty, gardens and their buildings were bombed and destroyed (see below).

Ruins of Grosses Tropenhaus

Ruins of the Grosses Tropenhaus (Large Tropical Greenhouse), Berlin Botanical Garden, Dahlem, Berlin 1947. Photograph by Roman Vishniac. © Mara Vishniac Kohn, courtesy International Center of Photography

In advance of World War II, many curators and museum staff worked to save precious collections by moving, storing, and hiding objects. Those that could not be easily carted away were hidden behind walls, sandbags, and other physical reinforcements. But for botanic gardens, how do you save acres of baroque geometric patterns and thousands of plants? The castle at Herrenhäuser Gärten in Lower Saxony was a target for British bombers in 1943, in spite of pleas from the British royal family.

Gardens also house important libraries as well as type specimens. The papers and notes of significant taxonomists are usually preserved as well in garden archives. If these documents are not dispersed to safe locations, they too can disappear in war.

The Lenhardt Library of the Chicago Botanic Garden has a large collection of the working papers of Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig Kränzlin (1847–1934), one of the most important German orchidologists in the first quarter of the twentieth century. Kränzlin continued the taxonomic efforts of Heinrich Reichenbach (1823–89), one of the first great students of orchids in the nineteenth century. The Library's collection of notes and documentation by Kränzlin represent his efforts on his never-finished magnum opus, Orchidacearum Genera et Species.

Kränzlin, like Reichenbach, was an enthusiastic taxonomist, but unfortunately did not carefully follow taxonomic rules in designating type specimens (holotypes) or depositing these types in publicly accessible collections. Some specimens were placed in Kränzlin's own herbarium, a portion of which was destroyed in an Allied bombing raid in March 1943 on Berlin, along with some of his papers. Other portions of his herbarium were saved in Herbarium Hamburgense, thanks to that collection's relocation during World War II to a site near Leipzig. Other portions of Kränzlin's collection were secured before the War at Harvard's Orchid Herbarium, thanks to the efforts of Oakes Ames (1874–1950), one of most important American orchid specialists in the twentieth century.

The papers in the Lenhardt Library survived thanks to another orchid enthusiast, Bostonian Albert Cameron Burrage (1859–1931). Burrage was a successful businessman and one of America's most prominent orchid specialists, earning the Lindley Medal from the Royal Horticultural Society. He built a large library, which eventually found its way to the Massachusetts Horticultural Society after his death. There is no documentation indicating exactly how Burrage acquired Kränzlin's papers, but fortunately this cache has survived for future generations of students and scholars.

Kränzlin organized his work by genera, in packets filled with drawings, notes, illustrations (often culled from books and journals), and even maps. He was frugal, using all sorts of scraps for his commentary, perhaps a reflection of Germany's hyperinflation in the 1920s. This collection includes correspondence with other orchid specialists and hobbyists around the world as well as extracts of papers and illustrations from many orchid journals and magazines. It represents years of work by Kränzlin, and awaits a scholar to solve many of the puzzles left by Kränzlin and his incomplete Orchidacearum Genera et Species.

Certainly these documents would have been lost during World War II in a bombing raid or some other calamity. A few years ago, the Lenhardt Library acquired a few valuable eighteenth-century Italian horticultural and agricultural works. I noticed a slight smoky smell to the volumes and asked the book dealer why they were filled with this odor. He explained that books were stacked near a fireplace in an Italian villa, occupied by German troops during World War II. The extensive library at the villa was used as fuel by these soldiers for the fireplace; fortunately these volumes, now in the Garden's collection, were not incinerated, but retained evidence of their close call.

Thanks to the efforts of Burrage (who was probably encouraged to help Kränzlin financially by Ames at Harvard), the Lenhardt Library has a significant cache of Kränzlin's papers for future scholars and students of orchids. A portion of this collection will be on display next year in the Library as part of an exhibition dedicated to orchids in print.


Edward J. Valauskas, Curator of Rare Books
November 2013

This guide provided by CBHL