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History of the Herbarium

  • Arthur G. Shields was the curator of the Biology Department Herbarium. He received his doctorate from Penn State University. For his thesis, he did a floristic study of central Pennsylvania. The specimens he collected were given to Penn State University, and duplicates of his collection were placed in a separate “Shields Collection” in the herbarium at IUP, which at the time was located in the “back room” of Weyandt Hall, room 225.

    Following Shields’ retirement in 1972, Jerry Pickering became the curator of the herbarium. The collection was moved across the hall to room 212 in Weyandt Hall. A computerized system and specimen ID code was developed by Jack McMillen as part of his masters’ thesis under the supervision of Pickering. This enabled the creation a unique ID (accession) number for each specimen and led to the first attempt to created a digital index of the collections. Data from the annotation slips had begun to be entered, with approximately 20 percent of the collection being entered onto cards that were housed on the university mainframe located in Stright Hall. However, when the university eliminated the mainframe the cards and all the herbarium data were lost.

    Original newspaper article about the dedication of the IUP Herbarium In 1973, the herbarium was named after Dr. Arthur G. Shields in his honor. Over the years, the herbarium was used for a number of classes, consultation work, and student research projects. Pickering was curator of the A.G. Shields Herbarium until his retirement in 2004. Over the next 10 years, the herbarium was maintained by a number of individuals within the Biology Department, including Jennifer Archibald (2004–06), Sandy Newell (2006–09), and Timothy Nuttall (2009–14).

    In summer 2014, Michael Tyree became acting curator (2014–present) and established the A. G. Shields Herbarium Board. The established goals of the board are to bring the collection into the 21st century by increasing the usefulness, value, and accessibility. During spring 2015, a renewed effort to inventory the estimated 10,000–12,000 specimens among the different collections was started and continues. The A. G. Shields herbarium was moved again to its current location in August 2015. The entire collection and the reassembled Plant Library is currently house in Weyandt 212c.

    The A. G. Shields Herbarium website was created in spring 2017. The slow work to inventory the entire collection continues, and a project to digitize the entire collection will soon start. The committee’s goal is to make the herbarium searchable and available online to enhance accessibility. The relationship between the Allegheny Arboretum and the A. G. Shields Herbarium will ensure that these two collections complement each other to the benefit of all parties, the public, and, most importantly, the students.

    History of the A. G. Shields Herbarium was compiled by Jerry Pickering (curator: 1972–2004) and edited by Michael Tyree (curator: 2014–current) in February 2017.

    Photo of the dedication of the IUP Herbarium