Micajah WC. Gardiner's Botanical Sample Book from the West Town Boarding School

Micajah WC. Gardiner's Botanical Sample Book from the West Town Boarding School

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This scrapbook from 1837 contains samples of various plants, including wild basil, enchanter’s nightshade, and elder bush, from the Mid-Atlantic area, which are pasted onto pages with handwritten labels of their common and scientific names. The scrapbook was likely a school assignment for a botany or biology class, as the creation of scrapbooks was a common learning technique in the 19th century; girls, for example, would sometimes assemble scrapbooks of their sewing projects. While the pages and cover of the scrapbook are torn and discolored, many of the plant samples are well preserved, with the flowers even retaining their original color. The book has a thin brown paper cover on which the creator, Micajah WC Gardiner, wrote his name, the name of his school, and the date. Gardiner was sixteen years old and attended Westtown Boarding School, a prominent Quaker preparatory school in Pennsylvania founded by the Religious Society of Friends in 1799, when he assembled the book. Born in 1821 in New Jersey, Gardiner was disowned by his mother and the Society of Friends in 1846 for marrying a non-Quaker woman and selling alcohol. He later rejoined the Friends, bringing his wife and five children into the Society. Gardiner died in 1907 and was buried near the Cropwell Friends Meeting House in New Jersey.
Object Name
date made
Physical Description
paper (overall production method/technique)
paper (overall material)
ink (overall material)
organic material (unspecified) (overall material)
fabric (overall material)
overall: 33.7 cm x 20.5 cm x 1 cm; 13 9/32 in x 8 1/16 in x 13/32 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Dr. Richard Lodish American School Collection
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Cultural and Community Life: Education
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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