Guide to the Department of Botany Records, 1932-1978


This collection contains assorted records from Duke University's Department of Botany, spanning from 1932 to 1978. Included are ledgers of financial records from the late 1930s, newspaper clippings from throughout the Department's history, promotional materials, and committee reports from the mid 1960s.

Collection Details

Record Group
Department of Botany records
Duke University. Department of Botany
1.2 Linear Feet
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Materials in English

Collection Overview

This collection of records from the Duke University Botany Department includes a laboratory manual with class materials from Botany 1 and 2 in 1940 as well as two early account books from the time of the department's founding (1936-1940), which contain a record of wages, office supplies, general supplies, repairs, equipment, and research grants. Other materials include newpaper clippings concerning the department (1932-1978), promotional materials (1967-1977), and committee self study and curriculum reports (1963-1965).

More Biographical / Historical Info

Using These Materials

A majority of collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 2 full business days in advance for retrieval. Contact Rubenstein Library staff before visiting. Read More »

warning Access to the Collection

Collection is open for research.

warning Use & Permissions

Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

More copyright and citation information

How to Cite

[Identification of item], Department of Botany Records, University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

Lab directions and course materials for Botany 1 and 2, 1940
Box 1
News Articles, 1932-1978
Box 1
Promotional Materials
Box 1
Committee Reports, 1963-1965
Box 1
Ledger 1, 1936-1938
Box 1
Ledger 2, 1936-1940
(4 folders)
Box 1
A Poster About Botanical Courses, 1960
Oversize-box 1

Historical Note

With the founding of Duke University in the 1920s, the Biology Department was created around a pair of Trinity College professors, Bert Cunningham, a zoologist, and Hugo Blomquist, a botanist. In 1927 they were joined by Arthur Pearse, a prominent ecologist and former president of the Ecological Society of America. Pearse added to the prestige of the department with his founding of Ecological Monographs, the first scientific journal published by Duke University Press. As the department moved to the Biology Building on the newly constructed West Campus, tensions between the botanists and zoologists led to a departmental rift. Eventually this rift led to the dissolution of the department in 1935 and the creation of the Botany Department, led by Blomquist, and the Zoology Department, led by Pearse.

The growth in the new departments was complemented by the addition of new facilities. These included the first greenhouses in 1930, the Herbarium in 1931, the Sarah P. Duke Gardens in 1934, and the Phytotron—one of the nation's first—in 1968.

After World War II, the departments gained strong reputations in the fields of ecology, physiology, and systematics. During the 1970s and 1980s, greater research emphasis was placed on botany and zoology at the cellular and molecular level. Emphasis was also placed on interdisciplinary research across the Duke campus with faculty members participating in interdepartmental graduate programs. The first one, the University Program in Genetics, was founded in 1967 and was followed by the University Program in Ecology, the Developmental Biology Program, the Cell and Molecular Biology Program, and the Bioinformatics and Genome Technology Program.

Eventually the separate Departments of Botany and Zoology began to drift back together. The two departments began co-teaching introductory biology in 1966 and offered a biology major in 1978. In 2000 the two departments dissolved and re-formed as the Department of Biology.

Description taken from: A Brief History of the Duke University Department of Botany

Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.


The Department of Botany records were received by the Duke University Archives as a transfer in 1979.

Processing Information

Processed by: Matthew Schaefer, June, 2013

Accessions described in this finding aid: A79-36, A79-121

Portions of accession UA2018.0009 and finding aid updated by Tracy M. Jackson, July 2019.