Record

Ref NoDF BOT
Alt Ref NoDF BOT
TitleBotany
DescriptionDF400 Botany Departmental Correspondence
DF401 Registers of Botany Departmental Correspondence
DF402 Botany Finance and Accounts
DF403 Botany Reports to Trustees and other Official Documents
DF404 Keeper of Botany's Correspondence and Papers
DF405 Papers of the Editors of the Journal of Botany
DF406 Keeper of Botany's Subject Files
DF407 Keeper of Botany's Staff Files and Official Diaries
DF408 Botany Annual Reports of Progress
DF409 Exhibitions in the Botany Gallery
DF410 [number not in use]
DF411 [number not in use]
DF412 Botany Departmental Visitor Books
DF413 Botany Acquisition and Exchange Records
DF414 Botany Parcel Books
DF415 Botany Equipment Registers and Collecting Materials
DF416 Botany Loan and Presentation Records
DF417 Botany Artwork for Publication
DF418 Deputy Keeper of Botany's Subject Files
DF419 Botany Workbooks
DF420 [number not in use]
DF421 Algae Section: Correspondence and Papers
DF422 Diatom Section: Correspondence and Papers
DF423 Lichen Section: Correspondence and Papers
DF424 Fern Section: Correspondence and Papers
DF425 Mycology Section: Correspondence and Papers
DF426 Cryptogamic Herbarium: Visitor Books
DF427 Cryptogamic Herbarium: Accession Records
DF440 General Herbarium: Correspondence and Papers
DF441 General Herbarium: Visitor Books
DF442 European Herbarium: Correspondence and Papers
DF443 European Herbarium: Visitor Books
DF444 British Herbarium: Tract Collection Manuscripts
DF445 British Herbarium: Papers Associated with Plant Collections
DF446 British Herbarium: Visitors Books
DF447 British Herbarium: Correspondence and Papers
DF460 Botany Library: Accession Records
DF461 Botany Librarian's correspondence and Papers
Date1755-2009
Held_ByNHM Archives
LevelFonds
AdminHistoryThe Department of Botany has its origins in the Department of Natural and Artificial Productions, which was set up at the founding of the British Museum in 1756. In 1806 it was renamed the Department of Natural History and Modern Curiosities and was under the keepership of George Shaw (1751-1813) and later Charles Dietrich Eberhard Konig (1774-1851). The botanical collection at this period consisted almost entirely of the Sloane herbarium.

In 1827 the Museum acquired the herbarium of Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), and with it, the services of Robert Brown (1773-1858), as 'Keeper of the Banksian Botanical Collection'. In 1835 the Sloane and Banksian collections were amalgamated to form a Botanical Branch of the Department of Natural History, and in 1856 the branch was given the status of a department, with Robert Brown as the first Keeper, and a staff of four.

Under succeeding keepers the collections held by the Department increased in size and scope, and by the time George Murray (1858-1911) retired in 1905 there was a staff of 13. A major reorganisation took place in the mid 1930s when the complement increased to 23, and the department was divided into six cryptogamic sections and five sections devoted to flowering plants, together with the library and the Keeper's Office. The Department was severely damaged during the war, and did not fully recover until the early 1960s.

Over the years the relationship of the Department with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, has been scrutinised many times, on both financial and scientific grounds. Government enquiries were held in 1860, 1871, 1900 and 1960, and all recommended that the two institutions should remain independent, with the last leading to the 'Morton Agreement', which set out a division of accession and research activities.

By 1965 the Department was responsible for huge herbaria collections, and was active in research on the floras of tropical Africa, Europe, the West Indies and the Far East. The research was supported by the departmental library, which was rich in historic treasures as well as contemporary literature. The Department was also responsible, in conjunction with the exhibition staff, for displays in the botany gallery. Staff numbered 23, who between them saw to nearly 3,000 visitors, accessioned nearly 40,000 specimens, and published 30 or more papers each year.

The Department of Botany was subsumed into the Department of Life Sciences (along with the Department of Entomology and the Department of Zoology) as part of the restructure of Science by the Director of Science in 2012. As part of the restructure, the position of Keeper no longer exits and the equivalent team is the Division of Algae, Fungi & Plants, and the collections manager is the Principal Curator in Charge. The collection sections remain largely the same, e.g. Algae, Cryptogamic Herbarium etc.

References:
British Museum (Natural History), 1904. The history of the collections contained in the natural history departments of the British Museum. Volume 1.
Gunther, A E, 1980. The founders of science at the British Museum 1753-1900. The Halesworth Press.
Stearn, W T, 1981. The Natural History Museum at South Kensington. Heinemann. Chapter 16.

KEEPERS OF BOTANY
Robert Brown 1827-1858
John Joseph Bennett 1859-1870
William Carruthers 1871-1895
George Robert Milne Murray 1895-1905
Alfred Barton Rendle 1906-1930
John Ramsbottom 1930-1950
George Taylor 1950-1956
James Edgar Dandy 1956-1966
Robert Ross 1966-1977
John Francis Michael Cannon 1977-1990
Stephen John Blackmore 1990-2000
Richard Bateman 2000-2004
Johannes C Vogel 2004-2012
Philip Stephen Rainbow (Acting) 2012

Show related Persons records.

Persons
CodePersonNameDates
CX5929Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; 1820 - present1820 - present
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