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The Herbarium at the University of Vermont

I visited the Herbarium with Rachel, who’s delighted to have a work-study job there. What a lovely Victorian place, with long windows looking out onto the UVM campus and Vermont hills. There are computers (you can see a Mac here), but otherwise researchers here are doing much as their nineteenth-century predecessors did. Rachel’s job is sorting and filing the large cards on which plant specimens are mounted. (What a great way for her to learn about plant species, and I learned that asters are one of the largest of plant families – they fill a whole wall.) She showed me how far back the collection goes, pointing out that 1899 and that whole decade had been a good time for plant collecting. I found myself wondering about the people who had contributed to the collection and whether information about them is recorded anywhere. There is such a lot of history that isn’t, and will probably never be, online.

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