The UWO Herbarium was founded in 1919. At a meeting of the Board of Governors on 12 November, Dean Sherwood W. Fox announced that “The Morton Collection of botanical specimens is now in the biological laboratories”. J.A. Morton, who donated his plant specimens was a lawyer from Wingham, Ontario, and an avid plant collector.
By the mid 1940’s, when the collection was first formally catalogued, the number of specimens had risen to about 6,200, plus some 5000 duplicate specimens available for exchange with other herbaria.
Until the early 1960s the herbarium remained very small and a large number of specimens were unmounted. In 1961 Dr James B. Phipps, newly hired as faculty member in the Department of Plant Sciences, was appointed as Curator and remained in that position until he retired in 2000.
In the summer of 1963 the first paid staff member Miss E. Hamill was hired as a summer technician to help with mounting and filing specimens. From then on accession records were kept of specimens deposited in the herbarium. In 1965, the first permanent position of Herbarium Assistant was created and held by Mrs. M. Orlóci.
The size of the herbarium collection grew to 22,000 by 1969, partly as a result of the purchase of the L.E. James collection. The number of specimens has increased steadily since then and now stands at about 42,000 vascular plant accessions plus an additional 10,000 or so Crataegus specimens in the Phipps Research Collection.
From 2000 until the summer of 2003 Dr. R. Greg Thorn, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology, filled the position of Curator. Vicky Lightfoot continued as Herbarium Assistant, a position she had held since 1990.
In 2003 both Greg Thorn and Vicky Lightfoot left the Herbarium. Dr. Jane M. Bowles was hired as Curator in December 2003. This was the first time someone was hired specifically to the position of Curator. Traditionally a full-time member of the Faculty has filled the roll. In February 2004 Sandra Mackin became the new Herbarium Assistant.
Taxonomic research will remain an important activity at the UWO Herbarium, but more emphasis will be given in the future to plant conservation - documenting and monitoring regional plant diversity and distributions – and to teaching and outreach.
This page was last updated on
September 19, 2007
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