Journal of the History of Biology 49 (1):191-230 (2016)

This paper focuses on the geography of the botanical community in Paris, under the July Monarchy. At that time, the Muséum d’Histoire naturelle was at its institutional acme and, under the impulse of François Guizot, its budget was increasing dramatically. However, closer attention to manuscript sources reveals that the botanists of the time favoured other private institutions, located both on the Right and Left Banks of the Seine. The MHN was prestigious for its collections and professors but it was relatively remote from the centre of Paris, and its plant samples were sometimes difficult to access. Several other first-class private herbaria granted liberal access to botanists: those of Jacques Gay, Phillip Barker Webb, and Benjamin Delessert. Thanks to their wealth, these plant amateurs had ownership of historical herbaria consisting of species types alongside rich botanical libraries. Botanists visiting Paris from foreign countries or other provinces of France also spent some time studying less general plant collections, like those of Count Jaubert, or specialized collections, like Montagne’s or Léveillé’s on cryptogams. Other botanists also enjoyed renown at the time, although they published little, if anything. Living in crammed apartments, literally in the middle of their plant samples, these botanists were key nodes in botanical networks, although they had no relation with the prestigious MHN.
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DOI 10.1007/s10739-015-9416-5
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