History of Stillinger Herbarium
The University of Idaho Herbarium began with the collections of Louis F. Henderson (1853-1942). Henderson became the university’s first botanist and herbarium director in 1883, shortly following the establishment of the University of Idaho. By 1906, the collection had grown to over 85,000 specimens, but on March 30, 1906 the University of Idaho Administration building was destroyed by fire and the majority of the collection was lost. Shortly thereafter, in 1911, Henderson retired from the University of Idaho, but after 13 years in retirement (at age 71), he joined the faculty of the University of Oregon as the Curator of the Herbarium, where he continued his extensive contributions to our knowledge of the flora of the Pacific Northwest. Growth of the University of Idaho Herbarium was slow following Henderson’s departure. Notable botanists such as William H. Baker and J. H. Christ continued to explore the flora of the area, contributing significantly to the growth of the herbarium, and by the mid 1900s the collection had grown to about 50,000 specimens.
Under the directorship of Douglass M. Henderson from 1972-1996, the University of Idaho Stillinger Herbarium more than doubled in size. Following Henderson’s untimely death in 1996, the herbarium saw several directors (Linda Cook, 1999-2001; Pamela Brunsfeld, 2001-2008). The current director, Dr. David Tank, a Plant Systematist and Evolutionary Biologist in the Department of Biological Sciences, continues to add to the growth and development of the Stillinger Herbarium with an active collections-based research program that involves undergraduates, graduate students, professionals and botanical enthusiasts from the community.
The Charles R. Stillinger Trust was established in 1957 and provides funding for the growth and development of the herbarium’s collections.