Page 14 of Seaweeds, Great Britain, circa 1850

150-year-old Seaweed Specimens

  • Seaweeds, Great Britain, circa 1850
    Seaweeds, Great Britain, circa 1850

The thirty-eight seaweeds in this book, each pressed onto a piece of paper with a handwritten identification of the species in English and Latin, were collected in Great Britain circa 1850, most likely by a woman or group of women. The study of algae and botany in general was one area of burgeoning scientific inquiry that was encouraged for women: in an 1830 work on algae in Britain, the author Robert Greville dedicates it to “my fair and intelligent countrywomen” “to whom we are indebted for much of what we know on the subject…the very beauty and delicacy of the object have ever attracted their attention.” Like herbariums, collections of plants that were pressed or drawn in books, these collections by amateur scientists, especially in aggregate, are physical evidence of the existence of a species at a particular place and time. This data can be used to speak to changes in seaweed biodiversity over periods of time, including, for example, as ocean temperatures rise due to climate change. Many Special and Historical Collections at varied institutions across the world have such examples as part of their collections.

Great Britain, circa 1850

CO2 PPM in 1850: 286.8

Additional Information

For more information see Seaweed Collections Online “which aims to gather, analyse and share data on the seaweed species of the British Isles by mobilising collections data from a network of national and regional museums”: