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Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation

Hunt Institute

Rachel Hunt's death on 22 February 1963 was followed by that of Roy Hunt on 21 October 1966. By that time the basic foundation of Hunt Botanical Library—established as a research center rather than simply a library—was solid, and work was progressing on several fronts. Bibliographically, the library continued to be developed and maintained, and a large-scale project was formed to collect data from public and private libraries concerning botanical publications from the 1730–1840 period and to database the information. Regarding persons important to botanical history, the portrait collection was expanded, and a program of recording citations to biographical information was pursued. The art collection was also expanded, an effort to collect modern botanical art and illustration was intensified, and a program of regular and international exhibitions was initiated.

Reflecting this continued growth, Hunt Botanical Library was renamed and reconfigured to have four programmatic departments: Archives, Art, Bibliography and the Library. As then-director Gilbert Daniels wrote in a year-end card:

Although 1971 has ended much too quickly, the year has been highly eventful and productive for us. One of the more significant aspects has been our change of name from the Hunt Botanical Library to the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, a change brought about by the need to recognize our increased expansion of activities in all areas. This institution is now much more than a library. Today, it is an important center of many activities in botanical, bibliographical, and historical studies (Daniels 1971).

Hunt Institute has had only three directors in its history: George H. M. Lawrence (1960–1970), Gilbert S. Daniels (1970–1977), Robert W. Kiger (1977–2016) and current Director T. D. Jacobsen. Under their leadership the collections have grown, as shown in the chart below.

1961 2017
Books and Serials 2,961 titles 30,665 titles
Prints, Drawings and Watercolors 1,300 30,957
Individual and Group Portraits 400 24,000+
Archival Collections 0 200+
Detailed Bibliographic Records of
Botanical Books and Periodicals
0 243,000+

Sources cited

Daniels, G. 1971. Year-end card. Depository: Institutional Archives, box 3, folder 1971, Archives, Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Hunt, R. M. M. n.d. Lecture on botanical literature collection. Depository: Hunt collection no. 252, box no. 9, folder 19, Archives, Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Hunt, R. M. M. 1923. Bookbinding as a fine art lecture. Depository: Hunt collection no. 252, box no. 9, folder 28, Archives, Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Hunt, R. M. M. [1951.] Botanical Books, Prints and Drawings from the Collection of Mrs. Roy Arthur Hunt. Portland, Maine: Printed for Mrs. Hunt by The Anthoensen Press.

Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt, Pittsburgh, Pa., to Hellmut Lehman-Haupt, New York, N.Y., 4 November 1959. Depository: Hunt collection no. 252, box no. 6, folder 41, Archives, Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Quinby, J. and A. H. Stevenson. 1958–1961. Catalogue of Botanical Books in the Collection of Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt. 2 vols., vol. 2 in 2 pts. Pittsburgh, Pa.: Hunt Botanical Library.

Titcombe, M. F. 1974. The Bookbinding Career of Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt. Pittsburgh, Pa.: Hunt Botanical Library.

Fritillaria imperialis Linnaeus, Liliaceae, crown imperial, was one of Rachel Hunt's favorite garden flowers and was a logical choice for the Hunt Institute's logo. This stylized rendition was adopted in 1970.