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Farlow Reference Library of Cryptogamic Botany


Farlow at his Desk, circa 1900

...the study of plants, as such, holds for large numbers of wanderers on this by no means unexceptional planet unnumbered joys and compensations of which the uninitiate have little or no conception. The fact alone that very many humans have found, do find, and will continue thus to find interest and consolation and wholesome activities for the eyes and mind, within doors and without, is in itself a sufficient raison d'etre for "The Farlow Library and Herbarium"

Roland Thaxter, 1882


William Gilson Farlow (1844-1919), eminent mycologist and phycologist and first Professor of Cryptogamic Botany in North America, bequeathed his library, herbarium, manuscripts, and notes to Harvard in 1919. His personal collection of books and journals, many of them rare and now unobtainable, form the nucleus of the Farlow Reference Library.

The Library opened at its present location at 20 Divinity Avenue in 1924 and has continued to grow. Further bequests include the library of Roland Thaxter (1858-1932), as well as manuscripts, correspondence, illustrations and field notes of several other Cryptogamic botanists including E.B. Bartram, E.A. Burt, W.H. Weston Jr., D.H. Linder, and I.M. Lamb. More information on collections of specific personal papers is currently being made available. Check our Farlow archival finding aids page for updated lists.

The collection, worldwide in scope, includes works on the identification and classification of algae, fungi, mosses, and lichens.

The Farlow stacks are closed and the collection is non-circulating. Materials may be consulted in the Farlow reading room Monday-Friday from 9:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. and in the Botany Libraries' main reading room Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Information on the diatom collection can also be accessed through the Farlow Diatom Collection Database.

To obtain more information about the Farlow Reference Library's collections or for a specific reference request email us.


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Last updated May 2013
Copyright 2008 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College

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