John Merle Coulter     (1851 - 1928)


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Biography
Sources
Further Sources
Selected publications

Biography

1851     November 20, born in Ningpo, China

father dies; mother returns to Hanover, Indiana, where her father lives

1870     earns Bacherlor's degree from Hanover College

1872     appointed assistant geologist for the Hayden Survey of the Yellowstone country; promoted to botanist when his interest is discovered and the official botanist keeps goofing off

1873     earns M.A. from Hanover

1874     appointed professor of natural sciences at Hanover

founds Botanical Bulletin with his brother Stanley; B.B. soon becomes the Botanical Gazette

1882     earns PhD from Indiana University

1891     appointed president of Indiana University

1893     appointed president of Lake Forest College, in Illinois

1896     appointed head of botany department at University of Chicago

1925     moves to Yonkers, New York to help organize the new Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, of which he is dean and chief advisor

1928     dies in Yonkers

Humphrey reports on Coulter's shift in job, on the Yellowstone survey: "Although his official interest... was geological, he found time to scout the hills and valleys for plants while his colleagues indulged in leisure-consuming activities of little or no interest to him."

Coulter was an old friend of David Starr Jordan, the icthyologist. When Jordan vacated the presidency of Indiana University to take the same job at Stanford, he persuaded Coulter to take his place. Coulter, however, hated fund-raising so much that he resigned the job to become president at Lake Forest College, near Chicago. It was a smaller institution with a larger (suburban!) endowment, and he thought he wouldn't have to mingle and schmooze so much. However, he did, and resigned this position in turn to come to the University of Chicago, where they pretty much left him alone, he did tons of research, and was quite happy.

One of the mushroom books that I got from the University of Chicago library is inscribed as a gift from him.
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Sources

Harry Baker Humphrey (1961) Makers of North American Botany


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Further Sources

Andrew Denny Rodgers III (1928) John Merle Coulter, Missionary in Science

Henry Chandler Cowles (1929) "Obituary of John Merle Coulter" in Botanical Gazette

William Trelease (1932) "Biographical Memoir of John Merle Coulter" in Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences


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Selected Publications

John Merle Coulter & T. S. Porter (1874) Synopsis of the Flora of Colorado

John Merle Coulter (1875) The Botany of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah

John Merle Coulter (1883) "Some North American Botanists" in Botanical Gazette 8 pp. 181 - 183

John Merle Coulter (1885) Manual of Botany of the Rocky Mountain Region


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