Historical Research

Beginning with the hiring of William Francis Ganong in 1894 as Professor of Botany and Director of the Botanic Garden, Smith College was in the forefront of botanical research and education.  Ganong invented botanical aparatus for plant physiology experiments (see the Bausch & Lomb Catalog) and wrote textbooks and manuals that profoundly influenced the teaching of plant physiology in the U.S. 

The geneticist Albert F. Blakeslee, renowned for pioneering chromosomal studies, came to Smith in 1942 and in 1952 greenhouses known as the Blakesee Range were added to the Lyman Conservatory complex to further his research. He taught graduate courses and conducted research using Datura (jimsonweed) to study the role of chromosomes in heredity. Blakeslee also developed the gloriosa daisy, a large flowered form of Rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan), which is now widely grown in gardens. Today these greenhouses are used for research projects and materials for biology classes. The area is closed to the public.



Students in 1952 conduct plant physiology experiments,
Lyman Conservatory Plant Physiology House



Photograph courtesy of the Smith College Archives