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COLLECTION Identifier: ecb00012

George Lincoln Goodale records

Scope and Contents

The George Lincoln Goodale records contain correspondence, canceled checks, notes on economic botany, photographs, invoices and receipts, donations, administrative reports, and Traveling Fellow reports. It also includes notes, ship routes, provisions lists, and Harvard Summer School brochures relating specifically to Cuba. Materials range from 1873 to 1917.


  • 1873-1917


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research by appointment. Researchers must register and provide one form of valid photo identification. Please contact for additional information.


1.25 linear feet (3 manuscript boxes)

Biographical / Historical

George Lincoln Goodale was born on August 3, 1839, in Saco, Maine, to Stephen Lincoln Goodale (1815-1897) and Prudence Aiken Nourse (1820-1885). His father, who served as the Secretary of Maine State Board of Agriculture from 1856-1872, was a pharmacist interested in the botanical aspects of pharmacy. In 1866, George married Henrietta Juell Hobson (1840-1939), and they had two children named Joseph Lincoln (1868-1957), and Francis Greenleaf (1883-1974). George Lincoln Goodale received his baccalaureate degree from Amherst College in 1860, and a medical degree with distinction from both Harvard Medical School and Bowdoin College in 1863. He would also go on to later earn additional honorary degrees from Amherst, Bowdoin, and Princeton University. In 1864 he began practicing medicine and also served as state assayer of Maine, where he conducted scientific surveys in botany, chemistry, and geology. At this time he began to make connections with scientific leaders from around New England, including professor Asa Gray.

Goodale practiced medicine for three years in Portland, Maine, before accepting a professorship at Bowdoin College where he taught botany, zoology, and chemistry for four years. In 1872 he accepted an appointment at Harvard as instructor in botany and university lecturer in vegetable physiology. In 1878 he became full professor of botany. Finally, in 1888, Goodale was appointed Fisher Professor of Natural History, a position he held until 1909. He retired in 1909 to become Fisher Professor Emeritus and Honorary Curator of the Botanical Museum. Throughout his career he taught special courses and gave lectures at various institutions including Lowell Institute in Boston and The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City. He was also one of the first to use successful electric lantern slide projection as a part of his lectures around the 1890s. In 1879, Goodale became director of the Harvard Botanic Garden and curator of the Botanical Museum where he sought to improve building and grounds conditions, secure endowments, and rebuild exhibition displays including a new collections space and lecture room for the museum. He was the first director of the Botanical Museum when it opened in 1888. In 1886, donations by Elizabeth Ware (1819-1898) and her daughter, Mary Lee Ware (1858-1937), allowed him to commission artists Leopold (1822-1895) and Rudolf Blaschka (1857-1939) to create the Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants.This collection is now housed in the Harvard Museum of Natural History.

From 1888 to about 1899 he also held positions as the associate editor of the American Journal of Science, president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, president of the Boston Society of Natural History, and co-founder of the New England Botanical Club. Goodale died on April 12, 1923, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is buried in Saco, Maine.


Bailey LH. 1923. George Lincoln Goodale. Rhodora 25: 117-120.

Robinson BL. 1926. George Lincoln Goodale: 1839-1923. Mem. Natl. Acad. Sci. 21: 1-19.


The records were stored in the Botanical Museum storeroom and were transferred to the Botany Libraries circa 2000.

Processing Information

Processed by Ashley Tooke, 2022 March

Goodale, George L. (George Lincoln), 1839-1923. George Lincoln Goodale records, 1873-1907: A Guide.
Botany Libraries, Economic Botany Library of Oakes Ames, Harvard University.
2022 March
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Botany Libraries, Economic Botany Library of Oakes Ames, Harvard University Repository

The Harvard University Herbaria houses five research libraries that are managed collectively as the Botany Libraries.The Economic Botany Library specializes in materials related to economic botany or the commercial exploitation of plants. The Archives of the Economic Botany Herbarium of Oakes Ames houses unique resources including personal papers, institutional records, field notes and plant lists, expedition records, photographs, original artwork, and objects from faculty, curators, staff, and affiliates of the Economic Botany Herbarium.

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