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Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation


In Memoriam: Walter H. Hodge, 1912–2013

11 July 2014

We are saddened to hear of the loss of an important figure in the world of botany, and friend of the Hunt Institute, Walter H. Hodge, who passed away on 13 June 2013. The Institute is indebted to him for his donations of his correspondence and personal papers as well as over a thousand portraits of botanists. We are very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with him over several decades.

Dr. Hodge was born 14 October 1912 in Worcester, Massachusetts. He met his future wife, Barbara "Bobbie" Taylor (1913–2009), while in high school. He earned his B.A. in biology from Clark University, his M.S. in botany from Massachusetts State College (now the University of Massachusetts) and his Ph.D. in biology from Harvard University. He worked as a teaching assistant in botany and then as an instructor in botany at Massachusetts State College and also as a teaching fellow and photographic assistant at the Gray Herbarium. From 1943 to 1945 Hodge was botanist for the U.S. Board of Economic Warfare's Cinchona Mission, exploring for sources of quinine in South America. After this he served in various faculty positions, from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (1945–1946) to Harvard University (1950). He worked for the United States Department of Agriculture (1950–1955) and the National Science Foundation (1961–1973) before retiring in 1973 to assist in the production of Hortus III (1976) at the Bailey Hortorium.

Hodge wrote over 200 publications during his career. He was awarded the Large Gold Medal of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society in 1977 and an honorary Sc.D. from Clark University in 1990.

In April the Hunt Institute received a donation from Island Resources Foundation of well over a thousand photographs taken by Hodge while he was in the Caribbean. Bruce Potter, President and CEO of the Foundation, digitized many of the images, and they are available online (http://j.mp/Hodge_Collection).

The Hunt Institute's digitization of a film, created by Hodge, of Peru during the 1940s has just been completed through a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation.

More information about Walter H. Hodge will be available in the next Bulletin of the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation.

About the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation

The Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, a research division of Carnegie Mellon University, specializes in the history of botany and all aspects of plant science and serves the international scientific community through research and documentation. To this end, the Institute acquires and maintains authoritative collections of books, plant images, manuscripts, portraits and data files, and provides publications and other modes of information service. The Institute meets the reference needs of botanists, biologists, historians, conservationists, librarians, bibliographers and the public at large, especially those concerned with any aspect of the North American flora.

Media Contact:
Scarlett T. Townsend