American botanist and artist Catharine Furbish (1934-1931) was born on this date, May 19, in 1834. Beginning in 1870, Furbish spent thirty-eight years traveling the state of Maine to collect, document, and classify its plant life.
Furbish's travels took her thousands of miles through some of the state's most remote and inaccessible regions, and two plants described and collected in her journeys now bear her name - an aster using the scientific name Aster cordifolius L. var. furbishiae and Pedicularis furbishiae or Furbish's lousewort, a plant so rare that it has only ever been discovered along the 130-mile stretch of the Saint John River in Aroostook County where Furbish first encountered it in 1880.
In 1895, Furbish helped found the Josselyn Botanical Society of Maine, and served as its president from 1911 to 1912. Her six decades in the field of botany resulted in contributions to the journal American Naturalist in 1881, 1882, and 1901. It also led to the production of over 1,300 highly prized watercolor drawings and pressings of the flora of Maine, compiled into a fourteen volume book, which she donated to Bowdoin College Library in 1908, along with much of her research and work.
She also distributed a collection of pressed ferns to the Portland Society of Natural History and over 4,000 sheets of dried plants to the New England Botanical Club, which were later relocated to University of Harvard's Gray Herbarium.
In recognition of her accomplishments, we're posting this celebration of Maine's fall foliage, which we acquired from another traveler and collector. Maine in Autumn is a guidebook published by the Maine Development Commission in the later 1930s. It is part of Hagley Library's John Margolies collection of travel ephemera (Accession 20171116-JT).
John Margolies (1940-2016) was an American photographer and architecture critic with a fondness for novelty architecture. This collection of ephemera was assembled by John Margolies as he traveled the country photographing and documenting American roadside businesses and attractions. The materials document the history of business and industry on the highways, backroads and Main Streets of America since the development of the automobile in the early nineteen hundreds through the twentieth century.