Plant Science Courses 1879-2000

In 1879, two courses in Botany, given by Professor of Biology John M. Taylor, were offered as electives in the summer terms of the first and second year of study: Gray's Manual, with Lectures on Structural Botany, and Structural and Microscopic Botany.

In 1883, Miss Ruth Hoppin, Teacher of Biology and Botany, taught students Gray's Manual of Botany, Morphology and Classifications, and Bessey's Botany.

In 1886, courses in botany became required for the Scientific Course and remained electives in the Classical Course. Rev. John H. Pillsbury, Professor of Botany, taught Plant Description and Analysis, Study of Types of Living Organisms, Systematic Botany, Vegetable Histology, Vegetable Physiology, and other lectures and laboratory work.

In 1890, Grace D. Chester, Instructor in Botany, joined Rev. Pillsbury, and Cryptogamic Biology was offered for the first time.

In 1894, William F. Ganong, appointed as Director of the Botanic Garden, and with the assistance of Miss Chester, offered eight courses in Botany:

  • General Botany. Outline of the principles of the science, with laboratory study on Anatomy, Morphology and classification, especially of the Flowering Plants;
  • Microscopical Anatomy, principally of the Phanerogams; general Botanical Technique;
  • Anatomy and Morphology of Cryptogams;
  • Advanced Natural History of Cryptogams;
  • Advanced Natural History of Phanerogams;
  • Lectures upon the Physiology and Biology of Plants, including: Protoplasm and its properties; relations of structure to function; nature and principles of adaptation;
  • Laboratory work upon problems treated in Course 6;
  • Special study of a given problem in Morphology or Biology of Phanerogams or Cryptogams, leading to original investigation. Phanerogam and Cryptogam refer to plants that reproduce by flowers/seeds and by spores, respectively.

In 1900, courses in General Botany, Morphology and Ecology of the Groups, Classification, Cellular Anatomy and Embryology, Horticulture, Physiology, and Investigation were offered. Students paid $5.00 per semester in laboratory fees (tuition then was $100 per year, room and board $300); after the fall of 1902, the $5.00 fee was imposed only for General Botany.

Instructors were Mr. William F. Ganong, Professor of Botany and Director of the Botanic Garden; Miss Florence M. Lyon, Assistant in Botany; Miss Frances Grace Smith, Assistant in Botany; and Mr. Edward J. Canning, the Head Gardener.

In 1902, Miss Julia Warner Snow, Instructor in Botany, taught the first course in Bacteriology. The 1906-1907 circular listed Professor Ganong, Associate Professor Snow, Dr. Smith, and Mr. Canning. Miss Sophia Hennion Eckerson was listed as a Demonstrator in Botany.

In 1909, Miss Helen Ashhurst Choate was acknowledged as Assistant in Botany. In 1910 Smith added a course entitled The Native Flora, offered by Dr. Smith, who was appointed Associate Professor in 1911. The 1911-1912 circular listed Edna Cutter as Demonstrator in Botany, and a cryptic entry "Instructor in Horticulture: — —" was perhaps meant to acknowledge Mr. Canning, who was unsuccessful in getting President Seelye to grant him that title.

In 1913, three new courses were offered: Advanced Horticulture and Landscape Gardening by Miss Edna Dwinel Stoddard (Instructor in Horticulture), History of Botany by Miss Choate, and Morphology of the Lower Plants by Associate Professor Snow. In 1914, the former became simply Landscape Gardening, taught by Assistant Professor Stoddard. Also in 1914, Dr. Grace Lucretia Clapp joined the faculty as Instructor in Botany.

In 1982, students chose among Plants and Human Welfare (Mr. Reid), Plant Biology (Mr. Frado),Horticulture (Mr. Armstrong), Morphology of the Non-vascular Plants (Mr. Haskell), Morphology of the Vascular Plants (Mr. Haskell), Plant Systematics (Mr. Burk), Plant Physiology (Mr. Reid), and Plant Ecology (Mr. Burk), among other courses in the Biological Sciences.

In 1998, Biological Sciences courses in plant science included: Horticulture and Horticulture Laboratory (Kim Tripp), Plant Biology and Plant Biology Laboratory (Philip D. Reid), Plant Physiology and Plant Physiology Laboratory (Philip D. Reid), and Plant Systematics and Plant Systematics Laboratory (C. John Burk). 

Morphology of Algae and Fungi, along with the Morphology of Algae and Fungi Laboratory as well as Plant Ecology and Plant Ecology Laboratory were offered in 1999-2000.

Edward J. Canning’s Horticulture class, 1904

Photograph by Katherine E. McClellan, photo courtesy of Smith College Archives