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Abstract Detail

Historical Section

Lecroy, Kathryn [1].

Botanical Literature in 19th-century United States Gift Books and Annuals.

Popular botany arose concurrently with the phenomenon of gift books and annuals in the first half of the 19th century in the United States. These two developments are both rooted in the middle and upper-middle class drive to construct a pious, cultured, and genteel identity. I argue that these books and the idea of "botanical literature" -- a term coined by Elizabeth Keeney in The Botanizers -- are not mutually exclusive. While historians of botany and gift book scholars seem to attribute floral imagery and the presence floral gift books as a sentimental continuation of the language of flowers and ornamental decoration per usual of the characteristics of the feminine, there is a space of popular botanical culture (botanical literature) within the identity of gift books that is overlooked by this assertion. Furthermore, this botanical literature is a valuable component for connecting the target audience of gift books (young women) to botanical study as much as allowed by their "delicate sensibilities." A survey of gift books and annuals was conducted at the Library of Congress (Washington, D.C. USA), the American Antiquarian Society collection (Worcester, MA USA), and online through digitized works. I conclude that the first acceptable science for American women's study permeated media beyond traditionally assumed origins of botanical manuscripts such as botanical textbooks, field manuals, and lectures; a new botanical literature is evident in the nature of gift books and annuals that similarly calls for a more refined, genteel, and pious young woman in early 19th-century middle and upper-middle class American culture.

Broader Impacts:

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1 - Birmingham Southern College, 900 Arkadelphia Rd., Box 541314, Birmingham, AL, 35254-9022, USA

Botany Education
women in science
gift book
Popular Botany
Botanical Literature
United States.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 29
Location: Morrow/Hyatt
Date: Tuesday, July 10th, 2012
Time: 10:15 AM
Number: 29001
Abstract ID:225

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