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Bigelow, Jacob, 1786-1879. Jacob Bigelow botanical illustrations, approximately 1813-1819: A Guide.

Archives of the Gray Herbarium, Botany Libraries, Harvard University
Archives of the Gray Herbarium, Botany Libraries, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: gra00002
Repository: Archives of the Gray Herbarium, Botany Libraries, Harvard University
Creator: Bigelow, Jacob, 1786-1879
Title: Jacob Bigelow botanical illustrations
Date(s): approximately 1813-1819
Quantity: 0.125 linear feet (approximately 40 drawings in 5 folders)
Language of materials: English


The provenance of this collection is unknown.

Processed by:

Lynn McWhood
March 1983

Conditions Governing Access:

The collection is available by appointment for research. Researchers must register and provide two forms of valid photo identification. Please contact botref@oeb.harvard.edu for additional information.

Preferred Citation:

Jacob Bigelow botanical illustrations, Archives of the Gray Herbarium, Harvard University.

Related Materials

Other related material at the Herbaria Special Collections: 17 mounted specimens and one illustration cataloged as: [Herbarium : specimens collected on European trip, 1839]
Other related material at the Botany Libraries, Harvard University Herbaria:
Administrative correspondence of the Gray Herbarium and Harvard University Herbaria, 1890-1965
Asa Gray correspondence files, 1832-1892
Botany Libraries Photograph Collection
Jane Gray autograph collection, 1563-1908


Jacob Bigelow was born in Sudbury, Massachusetts on February 27, 1787 to Jacob and Sarah Heartwell Bigelow. He graduated from Harvard in 1806 and continued his studies with John Warren at the Harvard Medical School. He completed his M.D. at the University of Pennsylvania in 1810 and returned to Boston. Bigelow opened a practice with James Jackson in 1811 and worked there for the next 60 years.
During his time at the University of Pennsylvania Bigelow was a private pupil of botanist Benjamin Smith Barton. In 1812 Bigelow began lecturing on botany at Harvard. Interest in his lectures led him to compile the first edition of his "Florula Bostoniensis," published in 1814. Second and third editions followed in 1824 and 1840.
In 1815 Bigelow was appointed Professor of Materia Medica at Harvard Medical School, a post he retained until 1855. He held a second appointment as Rumford Professor, teaching applied science, from 1816-1827. He married Mary Scollay in 1817. The couple had seven children, five of whom survived to adulthood.
Between 1817 and 1860 Bigelow published three volumes of "American Medical Botany," several works on medicine and biology, and anonymously released a volume of verse. He also played a major role in the establishment and design of Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge. He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for 67 years, serving as president from 1847-1863.
Bigelow died in Boston on January 10, 1879 and is buried at Mount Auburn. The genus Bigelowia was named in his honor by Augustin Pyramus de Candolle.
Bailey LH. 1883. Some North American Botanists. V. Jacob Bigelow. Bot. Gaz. 8(5):217-222.
Gray A. 1879. Dr. Jacob Bigelow. Amer. J. Sci. Arts. 17(97-102):263-266.
Kelly HA. 1914. Some American Medical Botanists. Troy (NY): Southworth Company.

Scope and Content

The Bigelow collection consists of botanical illustrations. There are approximately 40 sheets of drawings, mostly pertaining to Bigelow's "American Medical Botany," including pen and ink drawings and pencil drawings - some colored - and hand-colored proofs.
There were 17 packets of specimens with identifying labels. Plants were collected in Europe; some are dated March 1839. The specimens were mounted on specimen sheets and were cataloged as [Herbarium : specimens collected on European trip, 1839.] The specimens are stored in the Herbaria Special Collections.

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