Collection Title: Herbarium Collection

Collection Number: 223

Dates of Collection: 1849-1921

RepositoryChester County Historical Society


A herbarium is a collection of preserved plants stored, catalogued, and arranged systematically for study by professionals and amateurs from all walks of life. They are usually collected where they were grown, then identified and mounted on sheets of paper in a way that all major morphological characteristics are visible. For example, this would include both sides of leaves and the floral structure.

Before the beginning of the nineteenth century, there was little progress in horticulture in the United States; however, Chester County has long been home to important figures in horticultural science.

One of the earliest botanical gardens and horticulture nurseries belonged to John Bartram (1699-1777). From Darby, Chester County, Bartram traveled throughout the colonies studying and collecting plants, beginning his garden near the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. Bartram’s explorations resulted in the collection of many valuable plants that he grew in his garden, distributing his plants to like-minded botanists. Another early Chester County pioneer in horticulture was Humphrey Marshall, enhancing the field of botany with his published work Arbustum Americanum: The American Grove or an Alphabetical Catalogue of Forest Trees and Shrubs, natives of the American United States. It contained 169 pages of forest trees and shrubs in the United States, serving as a trade catalog by advertising collections of plants that could be grown by Humphrey Marshall.

With the local botanical interest started by John Bartram and Humphrey Marshall, other Chester County botanists would follow into their footsteps and Chester County became home to many nurseries. William Darlington was well-known for his contributions to the study of botany, publishing over six books on plants, writings from botanists, and their practical uses for farmers. Meanwhile, Josiah Hoopes started the Hoopes, Bro & Thomas of West Chester, becoming the preeminent Chester County nursery and serving customers in all parts of the country. Thus, individuals such as Darlington and Hoopes, greatly enhanced 19th century and early 20th century interest in herbarium collections. 

Collections Scope:

The collection contains over two dozen herbariums. The records for each herbarium vary greatly from donor to donor. Some contain scientific or common names for plant specimens, while others contain specimens that have information about their geographic origin or illustrations if they were large plants or groupings of specific plants.

Related Material:

For more specific information on horticulture and botany in Chester County, please visit the library for reference materials. The library contains many works on and by leading 19th botanists, such as William Darlington and Josiah Hoopes. 

Collections Contents:

Box 1: Cooper, James, Sullivan

“Herbarium and Plant Descriptions” Book

–          Mark F. Sullivan, 1891-1892

–          Includes index of plants (50 total), “How to mount plants,” “Key plant descriptions”

–          Collected around West Chester

Folder of loose skeletonized leaves

–          No provenance

–          Approximately 25 leaves

Anne Cooper box

–          Donor: Anna and Editha Hill Collection

–          Contains four folders

–          Most items are labeled with name and location found

–          Hawaii, British Columbia, Oregon, California, Chester County, Alaska, Massachusetts etc

–          Majority of the specimens in first three folders are ferns, also includes mosses and flowers

–          1887-1910

–          1908 letter from Switzerland with Edelweiss and little red bow

–          Heather from Sweden

–          Three little pressed arrangements from Jerusalem

–          Packet of pressed flowers from NJ, West Park, Wissahiccon labeled Z. N.

“Musci Cestrica” – Presented to the Chester County Cabinet of Natural Science – May 8, 1852, by Thomas P. James, Esq.

–          Handwritten

–          Book labeled “Musci Cestrici, or the Anophytes of Chester County, Pennsylvania. Collected and arranged by Thomas P. James. Philadelphia.”

–          Includes index

–          Collected 1849-1851

–          All mosses

–          Loose pages in back: “Catalogue of the Anophytes of Chester County, Pennsylvania as collected and arranged by Tho. P. James 1852.” Lists scientific names by class, order, and suborder


Anne Cooper (1829-1908) Herbarium of Pressed Seaweed and Other Aquatic Plants, ca. 1854-1888

–          Donor: Anna and Editha Hill

–          Book also contains folder of loose but labeled pressed plants

–          Poem on first page: “‘Call us not weeds, we are flowers of the sea, For lovely and bright and gay tinted are we, and though unacquainted with sunshine and shower Oh! Call us not weeds, we are ocean’s gay flowers. Not nursed like the plants of a summer pasture, Where gales are but sighs of an evening air, Our exquisite, fragile, and delicate forms Are the prey of the ocean when vexed by the storm’ Mary Hewitt”

–          Collected in NJ, CA, RH


Box 2: Reynolds, Coultas, Tappan, Moore, Watson, Unidentified

Walter Moore:

–          “Horbus Siccus 1878” folder:  Donor: Helen Moore Downing. Bound notebook contains herbarium and drawings –  pencil sketches of buildings, trees, plants, people

–          “Drawings” folder:  Contains four pencil sketches of landscapes.

Walter Watson:

–          “Herbarium – leaves and flowers” folder:  Bound paper labeled on cover ‘Walter W. Watson Herbarium – leaves 52 flowers 17’ and ‘Herbal of High School,’ collected between April and June 1887 in ‘school yard,’ ‘college,’ ‘Orange Street,’ and ‘Indian Hill’ (around Lancaster).

–          “Herbarium 1888” folder:  Cover reads ‘W. Watson 238 E. Orange Street Lancaster, PA,’ ‘Flowers 120 leaves 50/170,’ ‘B.H.S. Herbarium,’ ‘Tò βi βlos QullЄώu Kai Au θЄwώu.’ Collected at: Media Hill, Second Sock, Dillerville Swamp, Yard, School, Rhorerstown, Indian Hill, What Glen, College

–          **interesting arrangements

Harland Coultas:

–          Each book is similarly arranged, generally one plant per page with scientific name, month, location/habitat, and sometimes colloquial name. All hand bound with wrapping paper and ribbon, twelve total books.

–          “Wildflowers” folder:  booklet labeled ‘Wildflowers Collected in Pennsylvania 1861 EX HERBARIO COULTAS,’ some collected outside of PA (Licking River Kentucky, Atlantic City) but most in PA: York Furnace, York PA, Mill Creek, ‘Laurel Hill on the banks of the Schuylkill,’ Wissahiccon, ‘Susquehanna River below Safe Harbor.’

–          “Illustrations of the Natural Orders – 1861” folder:  booklet labeled “Illustrations of the Natural Orders – Plants collected near Philadelphia EX HERBARIO COULTAS 1861,’ no specific locations mentioned or illustrations.

–          “Illustrations of the Natural Orders” folder:  booklet labeled ‘Illustrations of the Natural Orders EX HERBARIO COULTAS Compositœ 1859,’ collected from ‘Banks of Schuylkill,’ ‘Swamps, Jersey,’ ‘Woods, Wissahiccon.’

–          “Wild Flowers” folder:  booklet labeled ‘Wildflowers Growing around Atlantic City, New Jersey EX HERBARIO COULTAS 1860,’ no specific locations listed, switches half-way through to ‘Crytogamia collected on the Alleghany Mountains, PA EX HERBARIO COULTAS 1860,’ collected in Juniata Gap, contains moss, lichen, and ferns.

–          “Illustrations of the Natural Orders” folder:  booklet labeled ‘Illustrations of the Natural Orders EX HERBARIO COULTAS Compositœ 1859,’ collected from ‘Woods, Schuylkill,’ ‘Pinewoods, Jersey,’ and ‘Woods near Manayunk.’

–          “Illustrations of the Flora of the Southern States” folder:  booklet labeled “Illustrations of the Flora of the Southern States or Plants Collected in January, February, and March in the Vicinity of Mellonville, Florida and Savannah, GA. 1867 Harland Coultas.’

–          “Ferns” folder:  booklet labeled ‘Ferns Growing around Philadelphia EX HERBARIO COULTAS 1858,’ collected from Schuylkill, Jersey, Manayunk.

–          “Graminea” folder:  booklet labeled ‘Graminea Collected Chiefly about Philadelphia EX HERBARIO COULTAS 1859,’ collection from Schuylkill, ‘Banks of the Delaware.’

–          “Cyperacea” folder:  booklet labeled ‘Cyperacea Growing around Philadelphia Ex HERBARIO COULTAS 1858,’ collected from Fairmount, Swamps Kaign’s Point, Banks of Delaware, Delaware Co., New England, Schuylkill.

–          “Moss” folder:  first pages labeled  ‘EX HERBARIO COULTAS’ wreathed in moss, two specimens per page, no dates, collected from Kaign’s Point, Fairmount, Schuylkill, Wissahiccon.

–          “Summer Flowers” folder:  booklet labeled ‘Summer Flowers Growing near Philadelphia EX HEBARIO COULTAS 1860,’ collected form Atlantic City, Cobb’s Creek, Schuylkill, Bathtow (??) Creek, Jersey.

–          “Summer Flowers 1859” folder:  booklet labeled ‘Summer Flowers Growing near Philadelphia EX HERBARIO COULTAS 1859.’

Lewis Tappan:

–          “Flowers From the Rocky Mountains” souvenir box with loose pages, a note reads: “Mrs. Bucknell, The within flowers were collected by me last August from the ‘Snowy Range’ Rocky Mountains – The snow being within a few feet of them. May the ‘Alphabet of Angels’ convey to you sentiments of the highest regard from Lewis N. Tappan, Denver K.Y. (?)  Nov. 26, ’60.”

–          **particularly beautiful!

Margaret Reynolds:

–          “Pressed Plants” Donor: Mrs. Isabel Reynolds. Folder labeled “Margaret Reynolds Biology III Grade 10” on inside back. All collected 1926 from Buck Run Creek, Doe Run Creek, Brandywine, ‘Woods near Embreeville,’ Beaver Dam Woods, and Unionville. Faint red comments on front from teacher: “…beautiful specimens…”


–          “Herbarium” folder:  Bound book titled “Herbarium,” 1870. Collected from “highest point of the trail from Gordon’s to the Geysers Boundary line between lake & Sonoma, Cal,” Oakland, E. of the Rocky Mts., “White Mountains, N.H. July – Aug. 1870,” Mount Holyoke, Mount Vernon, etc. One page of a magenta painting of person and various shapes.

–          “Pressed Flowers” folder:  Two cards explaining process of pressing and identifying seaweed, “Seaweeds IV” labeled Annie Speakman, “Seaweeds XI” labeled Mary Speakman. Loose pages, each with a specimen and scientific and colloquial names and habitat, interesting cut stickers at end of stems. One specimen labeled “Will thee excuse me if I tells thee I have forgotten the name of this one.” Two leaves folded in a section of an advertisement reading “1860 North Misso- Railroa- important notice to tra- returning eas-” etc.

Margaret Crozer:

–          “Pressed Flowers”: pretty little book bound with ribbon, embossed gold and white cover. Second page labeled: Margaret K. Crozer 1853. Collected from Waterloo, Rome, Florence, Turin, Naples, Kinloch (?) Castle, Paris, Switzerland.

Rebecca M. Park:

–          “Herbarium” Donor: Mary Alice Rankin. Two books, one yellow and one white. Yellow Book: bound with ribbon and labeled “Botany Book of Rebecca Park Rankin, grandmother of donor Mary Alice Rankin.” Contains unlabeled flowers and one loose pencil drawing. White book: bound with ribbon and labeled “Rebecca M. Park Washington…” wreathed in flowers. Flowers labeled with scientific names only. **wreath is noteworthy


Box 3: Speakman, Paxon, Brinton, Dauman, Shelton, King, Sahler, Jackson, Sharpless

Lela M. Sahler:

–          “A study in botany – West Chester High School 1900” School project, all collected in and around West Chester, loose pages.

Florence W. King:

–          “Herbarium West Chester High School 1899” Donor: Mrs. P. C. H. Lapp née Florence King. School project, collected in and around West Chester, loose pages wrapped in paper.

Hettie Speakman:

–          “Herbarium Ercildoun Seminary 1874” Bound book labeled “Herbarium,” most specimen are unlabeled with no locations listed.

Clement Brinton:

–          “Sea Mosses” Donor: Clement S. Brinton. Bound notebook labeled “Sea Mosses” on cover with no other labels.

Maggie Paxon:

–          “Herbarium 1879” Bound book labeled “Maggie Paxon 1879” with handwritten index at front, organized by Order, no locations listed.

Jesse Dauman:

–          “Herbarium 1852” Donor: Edith Jane Stauffer. Hand bound with Aug. 1852 newspaper as cover. No locations listed.


–          Leaf/plant rubbings: graphite rubbings of specimens are largely unlabeled with no locations.

Gertrude Shelton:

–          “Herbarium – State Normal School 1896” Donor: Estate of Gertrude Shelton” Kennett Twp. Majority are flowers.

Martha Jackson:

–          “Herbarium and Plant Descriptions” Donor: Martha Lukens. Book of loose pages; cover reads “Herbarium and plant descriptions designed by Edward T. Nelson Professor of Biology, Ohio Wesleyan University Boston, Allyn and Bacon, Publishers.” Includes index, collected in West Chester, PA, 1893. Same book as Mark F. Sullivan in Box #1 Herbarium Collection.

C.S. Jackson (name listed as book designer but no name specifically attributed to the herbarium):

–     “Herbariums and record of analysis” Book of loose pages, covers reads “Herbarium and Record of Analysis, Designed by C.S. Jackson, S. B. Published by Rumford Supply Co. Lynn, Mass.” Pages all labeled “Record of Plant Analysis Copyright 1906 by C.S. Jackson.” Plants collected in 1921, includes “A Key to Plant Analysis” leaflet about identification and labeling.

M.R. Sharpless:

–     “Herbarium” Donor: Mrs. J. Ashbridge Perkins. “M.R. Sharpless” label on cover. “Flowers” includes poem on first page and one loose color drawing of a dam. Specimen are labeled with scientific name and occasionally ‘meaning’ ex: sincerity, folly, ‘remember me,’ ‘thou vain coquette.’ Some have lines of poetry or short sayings related to the flower. “Tough thistle choked the fields and killed the corn, And an unthrifty crop of weeds was born” A few specimens collected by other people:  Mr. Robert H. Archer, Cousin Steve.


Herbarium of Josiah Hoopes:

–          Package 1: All unbound sheets. Each stamped with “Herbarium of Josiah Hoopes. Flora of North America” and labeled with scientific name, general location, and some dated 1863 – 1878. Locations: Chester Co. PA, West Chester PA, Serpentine Ridge, Allentown PA, Sagers Mill, Chester Co. PA, Brandywine Forks. A few pages labeled “legit BM Everhart” otherwise they are labeled “legit Josiah Hoopes.”

–          Package 2: Contains loose sheets with stamp and 14 brown folders organizing specimen by “Graminea Cinna,” “graminea Brachyelyrum” among others. Handwritten labeled affixed to folders.

–          Package 3: Loose specimens kept between sheets of paper with loose handwritten labels. All specimens are labeled as “Duplicate.” One labeled “Pierce Hoopes” and stored between a folded sheet of ‘Moore’s Rural New Yorker’ newspaper dated April 9, 1859, three folded in sheets of ‘The Press – Philadelphia’ dated Jan. 7, 1865 and Jan. 14, 1865. Nine brown folders with handwritten labels, some folders empty, other contain loose sheets with ‘Herbarium of Josiah Hoopes. Flora of North America’ stamps. Some dated 1873. Many loose sheets with same stamp all collected in ‘Chester Co. PA’ or ‘Near West Chester, PA.’ Many grasses and grains.


“Josiah Hoopes Herbarium Specimens” Box:

–          Four brown folders with handwritten labels “Leguminosa Lespedeza,”  “Vitacea Ampelopsis,” “Sapindaceoe Staphylea,” and “Labiatae Lamium.” Pages stamped with “Herbarium of Josiah Hoopes. Flora of North American.” All collected in Chester County, PA – Coventry, Valley Creek, North Valley Hill, Brandywine. One collected by K. Tergus and one by B.M. Everhart. The rest are loose pages with same stamp but not filled in, many have a label laid on top of specimen initialed JH with locations and date (1873), only a few contain names.


“Herbariums – W.C. Brinton and Frances Newlin” Box:

–          “Seaweed Herbarium of Frances Newlin” wrapped in brown paper, donor: Elizabeth N. Baker. Big bound book with embossed illustration of a flower and vine on the cover. Small sticker reading “E. Baker.” On the first page, a note reads “From Frances Newlin Estate 904 West Ct. Wilmington Delaware, Given to Elizabeth Newlin Baker 367 S. Lincoln Highway Coatesville, PA.” All seaweeds without labels.

–          “W.C. Brinton Herbarium” loose pages, donor: Ruth Brinton Perera. Specimens labeled with scientific and colloquial names, date collected, location where collected, and stamped ‘W.C. Brinton.’ Collected in and around West Chester, 1895 – 1899. Locations such as the farms of Jesse Taylor, S.L. Brinton, Alfred Grubb, W. Green, and W.G. Embree, and Oakland Cemetery.


“Herbarium Ann Cooper” Box:

–          Donor William C. Baldwin. Collected 1859-1880. Huge bound book, spine reads ‘Herbarium.’ First page reads faintly ‘Ann Cooper Parkesburg 1859.’ Second page has faintly written poem wreathed in flowers. Within folded sheet of paper – many specimen that are labeled but not placed on separate pages.  Several beautiful wreaths of pressed leaves and flowers. Many different specimen per page, labeled with name and year, sometimes location, but not all are labeled. Varied collection – contains flowers, leaves, grasses, some seaweed, mosses, and a cactus.  Some collected by other people: Margaret Passemore, Sister Hanna, Joseph Cope, Priscilla Hughes, Josephine Barnard, Mary Hoopes, Sarah Moore, Lavinia Olster, Dr. Darlington, etc. Contains sections where leaves are painted over in reds and greens, a few loose pages of painted leaf stamps. Locations: Niagara Falls, Atlantic City, Westtown School, Parkesburg, Connecticut, Europe, France, Dresden, St. Petersburg, etc. Contains little notes throughout about who brought her specimens and several newspaper clippings. One note reads “From the Jackson reunion, I am on the branch six generations from the first…over 200 were there.” Also: “On Christmas day little Lydia Hughes gathered these out of the yard in bloom (winter jasmine). Very damp sultry day & so many sick persons around, & all over the country gripe 12-25-1891.” One pages with three arrangements: “Taken from the corpse of Jennie T Ryan, died 1mo, 6th, 1892 aged 39,” “Taken from the corpse of Mary Hill Peck, died 2mo, 27th, 1891 aged 62,” and  “From the body of Elizabeth C. Coulston, who died 7month 9th 1885, Chestnut Hill, Montgomery Co. PA.”


“Herbariums – OV” Box:

–          Top of box labeled “RG2 SI SSA Flat box 1 1904-1906.” Robert F. Brinton, West Chester PA. Loose pages with individual specimens labeled with scientific and colloquial names, location collected, date, and Robert F. Brinton’s name. Collected from 1904 – 1906 in and around West Chester, near Leesport Berks Co, along the Brandywine, etc.


“Herbariums – E.D.S. and Dr. Wm Darlington ‘Pressing’ book (empty)” Box:

–          E.D.S.: Stack of loose pages marked 1842 – 1843, donor: Eleanor Ashbridge. Specimen stored in folded sheets of paper, scientific and colloquial names, occasionally other notes like meaning of flower. No locations listed. Mostly flowers.

–          Wm Darlington, West Chester PA (indistinguishable words): Leather bound book. Inside cover labeled ‘$2.00 Wm Darlington, M.D. West Chester Penna May 12, 1829” with same written inside back cover. No specimens – book is empty.


“Herbarium John R Thomas” Box:

–          ‘Chester County Herbarium of John R. Thomas 1898 – 99’ donor: Mr. and Mrs. Wm Bull Jr. Four bound books all labeled on cover ‘The Phyto-Theca, Kellerman.” Preprinted books designed for use as herbariums. Each page contains space for scientific name, common name, locality, date, and collector. Collected by: John R. Thomas, Joseph H. Painter, Henry L. Connard, Marian G. Thomas, Alfred Smith, H. Faucett, H. Haines, and Herbert W Masters. Most collected around Westtown, PA some from: Ateo(?) NJ, Brinton’s Dam, Downingtown OA, Witford PA, West Virginia, Ohio, etc. Herbariums are almost exclusively flowers. Thickest book is hardly used, contains several specimen – unlabeled and with blotting paper.


“Halliday Jackson Herbarium” Box:

–          Two big bound books – both have embossed label on front reading ‘Halliday Jackson,” spines read “Herbarium” in gold, one book has number ‘2’ on spine. Donor: Halliday Jackson 4-23-1942.

–          Book 1: Arranged by broader species, sections hand labeled ex: Didynamia Angiosppermia. Individual specimen labeled with scientific and common names, general habitat and time of year in bloom. Includes flowers, grasses, ferns, etc. Last quarter of book is unused. Multiple specimens per pages.

–          Book 2 (‘2’ on spine): Arranged same of book 1, a few loose, unlabeled specimens towards the back of the book.

–          **both books are particularly well organized and labeled, beautiful specimens.


Two oversized books with green fabric around edges – 1850s:

–          Unknown provenance. Varying numbers of specimens per page. Labels handwritten, scientific and common names, some unlabeled. Lighter colored of the two books: first half is empty and one page contains note at bottom “Flowers on this leaf I found on Rhode Island and Nantucket 1855.” Darker colored book: contains packet of pressed flowers, four per page with scientific and common names and a pencil drawing of a bridge and boat at back of book.


John G. Dowell’s Herbarium:

–          Large bound book with leather spine, donor: J. Hibbard Hall, 11-17-1936. Inside cover reads “John G. Dowell’s Herbarium Franklin Parish May 24th, 1835.” Small handwritten labels affixed near most specimen with general habitat (damp, dry soil, swampy, etc.), scientific names and sometimes common name.