Herbarium History

The Willard Sherman Turrell Herbarium (MU) of Miami University is a collection of ca. 660,000 specimens of vascular plants, mosses, liverworts, algae, lichens, fungi, plant fossils, and associated materials; specimens in the collection date back to the 1790's. It had its official beginning in 1906 with the appointment of Bruce Fink, eminent lichenologist and mycologist, as the first professor of Botany at Miami University, though an herbarium had previously existed in the 1870's, during the time Joseph James was teaching botany and geology at the university.

Unfortunately, upon Dr. Fink's death in 1928, most of his priceless collections were sold to the University of Michigan. However, over 2,000 lichens and 3,000 fungi remained at Miami University, along with a small collection of vascular plants. Arthur T. Evans succeeded Fink and encouraged many students, including Elso Barghoorn, Charles Heimsch, Vernon Cheadle, and Richard Howard to collect plants and add them to the herbarium. Ethel C. Belk, one of Arthur J. Eames' students, functioned as curator from 1933 until 1956. Harvey A. Miller arrived at Miami University in 1956 and as curator began the development of an active exchange program that led to significant growth in the herbarium.

In 1965, it was learned that the oldest and largest herbarium in Ohio, that of Oberlin College (OC), was to be sold, at least in part. Miller and department chairman Charles Heimsch were successful in persuading Miami University that this collection should remain in the state and that it would be a significant addition to the original Miami University holdings. The Oberlin College collection, minus most its Ohio specimens, was purchased in 1966 with a gift from Elizabeth P. Turrell, and the herbarium was later named in honor of her uncle, Willard Sherman Turrell. The relocation of the Oberlin College collection to the Miami University was made possible in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation in 1967. This grant also provided for the hiring of a full time technician, a position which has been continued by the university to this day. In 1984 this position was upgraded to that of Assistant Curator and most recently Curator.

Will H. Blackwell joined Miami University in 1968 and served as curator from 1968-1978, 1983-1986, and 1988-1989. W. Hardy Eshbaugh arrived at Miami University in 1967 and served as the curator from 1967-68, 1978-82, and 1989-93. Wayne J. Elisens curated from 1982-1983, and R. James Hickey curated from 1987-1988. The current curator, Michael A. Vincent, was appointed in 1993 (Anonymous, 1974; Cusick and Snider 1982, 1984; Eshbaugh 1980, 1984; Miller, 1968; Vincent, 1991). Since 1993, the collection has nearly doubled in size (with a 50% increase since 1998), and holdings in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific basin have increased by nearly 500%.

List of Curators

Bruce Fink
Curator (1906-1927)
Arthur T. Evans
Curator (1927-1929)
Ethel C. Belk
Curator (1929-1956)
Harvey A. Miller
Curator (1956-1967)
W. Hardy Eshbaugh
Curator (1967-1968, 1978-1982, 1989-1993)
Will H. Blackwell
Curator (1968-1978, 1983-1986, 1988-1989)
Wayne J. Elisens
Curator (1982-1983)
R. James Hickey
Curator (1987-1988)
Michael A. Vincent
Curator (1993-present)
Literature Cited

Anonymous. 1974. Miami's outstanding Herbarium. The Miami Alumnus 28(2): 2pp.

Barneby, R. C. 1964. Atlas of North American Astragalus. Parts I & II. Mem. New York Bot. Gard. 13: 1-1188.

Cusick, A.W. and J.A. Snider. 1982. Survey of the herbarium resources of Ohio. Organization of Herbaria in Ohio, Columbus. Mimeo, 43pp. (publication funded by the W.S. Turrell Herbarium Fund of Miami University)

Cusick, A.W. and J.A. Snider. 1984. Survey of the herbarium resources of Ohio. Ohio J. Sci. 84: 175-188.

Davis, H. B. 1936. Life and work of Cyrus Guernsey Pringle. University of Vermont, Burlington.

Elisens, W. J. 1985a. The Montana collections of Francis Duncan Kelsey. Brittonia 37: 382-391.

Elisens, W. J. 1985b. Monograph of Maurandyinae (Scrophulariaceae- Antirrhineae). Syst. Bot. Monogr. 5: 1-97.

Eshbaugh, W.H. 1980. The Willard Sherman Turrell Herbarium. Association of Systematics Collections Newsletter 8(6): 82.

Eshbaugh, W.H. 1984. The role of Ohio's herbaria beyond the state. Ohio J. Sci. 84: 197-199.

Grover, F. 1941. Mary Fisk Spencer. Madrono 6: 82-84.

Holmgren, P. K. et al. Index Herbariorum. http://www.nybg.org/bsci/ih/ih.html.

Lawrence, G. H. M., A. F. G. Buchheim, G. S. Daniels and H. Dolezal (eds.). 1968. Botanico-Periodicum-Huntianum. Hunt Botanical Library, Pittsburgh.

Lenz, L. W. 1986. Marcus E. Jones: Western Geologist, Mining Engineer and Botanist. Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Claremont.

Miller, H. A. 1968. The herbaria of Miami University (MU) and Oberlin College (OC) combined. Taxon 17: 57-60.

Pennell, F. W. 1935. The Scrophulariaceae of eastern temperate North America. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia Monogr. 1: 1- 650.

Stafleu, F. A. and R. S. Cowan. 1976-1988. Taxonomic Literature (Ed. 2). Vol. I-VII. Bohn, Scheltema & Holkema, Utrecht.

Torres, A. M. 1963. Taxonomy of Zinnia. Brittonia 15: 1-25.

Turner, B. L. 1987. Taxonomy of Carphochaete (Asteraceae- Eupatorieae). Phytologia 64: 145-162.

Vincent, M. A. 1991. Vascular plant type specimens in the Willard Sherman Turrell Herbarium (MU), Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. Rhodora 93: 148-182.

Vincent, M.A. 1994. William Bridge Cooke, 1908-1991. Mycologia 86: 704-711.