Books, botany and the organisation of nature in 18th-century Cambridge – Edwin Rose (University of Cambridge)

When:
March 1, 2021 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
2021-03-01T13:00:00+00:00
2021-03-01T14:00:00+00:00
Where:
Zoom
Contact:
Joanne Green

In July 1760 Dr Richard Walker of Trinity College transferred £1600 to the University of Cambridge for the purpose of founding ‘a public Botanic or physic garden’. These funds purchased the old Augustinian Priory and its grounds, what we now know as the New Museums Site, land occupied by the Cambridge Botanic Garden between 1760 and 1846. In 1762 Thomas Martyn (1735–1825) was appointed as the third Professor of Botany who immediately embarked upon arranging the Botanic Garden according to the Linnaean system of classification; the first institution of its kind to be founded on Linnaean principles in Britain.

In this talk I examine how printed books and herbarium specimens, many of which are still held by Cambridge University Library and Cambridge University Herbarium, were used to manage information on the living plants in the Cambridge Botanic Garden between 1760 and 1820. This was the responsibility of Martyn and a succession of curators who navigated between the living plants, dried specimens and an annotated library of approximately 1000 volumes used to identify, classify, describe and arrange species represented in the garden and the specimens held in Martyn’s Botanical Museum. This system for managing information was designed to accommodate the increasing numbers of living plants, specimens and seeds Martyn and his curators received from a global network extending across the Americas, Africa, Asia and the Pacific, many of which they cultivated in the Cambridge Botanic Garden and arranged according to the Linnaean framework.

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