online resources—works of
sir joseph dalton hooker (1817–1911)
2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817–1911), Britain’s preeminent botanist of the 19th century, an intrepid explorer, an early student of geographical botany, and the greatly esteemed director of London’s Kew Gardens for twenty years. Throughout the year, a number of exhibits, conferences, and web resources have been organized to celebrate Hooker’s contribution to science.
THE ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS, KEW
In March, a six-month exhibition, “Joseph Hooker: Putting plants in their place”, opened at The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art at Kew Gardens. The exhibit included items from Kew’s Joseph Hooker Collection—maps, photographs, letters, artifacts from his many travels, sketches, journals, and his published works with original artwork by the renowned botanical artist Walter Hood Fitch.
Kew's Hooker exhibit was accompanied by an exhibition of 80 works by contemporary British botanical artists.
In June, Kew also hosted “The Making of Modern Botany” a conference exploring Hooker’s contributions to science and modern botany.
Kew’s website includes a fascinating look at their Joseph Hooker Collection. A detailed biography is included along with sketches from his various travels and photographs of Hooker with his family and colleagues. Other resources include a discussion of the importance of botany to the British Empire; an article from Kew Magazine, “Tracking Hooker” by Toby Musgrave, Garden Historian, who compares Hooker’s travels in Sikkim with his own; and a must-read—“Joseph Hooker: the Man Who Knew Everybody”, a paper about Hooker’s life and travels, read at London's Athenaeum Club in February 2013, by world traveler and founding member of Monty Python, Michael Palin.
Kew has also been engaged in the Joseph Hooker Correspondence Project, a joint effort with Sussex University, to transcribe and digitize his letters, both scientific and personal. These can be read online, both the original and transcription, as they become available.
THE BIODIVERSITY HERITAGE LIBRARY (BHL)
This invaluable online resource provides open access to the literature of biodiversity, past and present. They currently have digitized some 120,000 publications and 200,000 volumes from a consortium of natural history and botanical libraries.
Working with Kew Gardens, BHL launched the #JDHooker2017 social media campaign in June to celebrate Hooker’s bicentenary. BHL’s blog includes several informative posts about Hooker’s career and travels, accompanied by photographs and illustrations from Kew's collection. BHL's Hooker Collection on Flickr makes available many spectacular illustrations from ten of Hooker’s works. For anyone wishing to read Hooker’s works in their entirety, BHL has an online collection of 39 works authored by Hooker, in full or in part, that can be read online or downloaded.
Several brief videos exploring Hooker’s career by Australian film maker Peter Donaldson can be found on Vimeo. These short films include “Finding the First Sketch of Mt. Everest” and a look inside Kew library’s copy of Hooker’s “Rhododendrons of Sikkim-Himalaya”. “Why Joseph Hooker Went to the Himalayas” is actually an account of Hooker’s 4-year expedition to the Antarctic, complete with marvelous photography of the Antarctic.
All images courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library (https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org).