Monday, April 20, 2009

Roland Harper and his Photographs - A Slice of Alabama Life

Roland Harper with camera

Roland Harper in full field gear with hound

Today in Gorgas Library room 205, Elizabeth Findley Shores will talk about her book, On Harper's Trail: Roland McMillan Harper, Pioneering Botanist of the Southern Coastal Plain (UGA Press, 2009). Shores's work on Harper took place primarily at the Hoole Library, where his extensive personal papers are held.

Roland Harper was a field botanist by profession, and took countless photographs during his long professional life. He worked most of his life at the Geological Survey of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Born August 11, 1878 in Farmington, Maine, he moved to Georgia with his family in 1887. While earning an engineering degree from the University of Georgia, Harper took his first botany class and became an avid student of local flora.

In 1899, Harper entered the Botany program at Columbia University and earned his PhD in 1905. His work in documenting the fauna of the Southeast was extensive. And he was an interesting and complicated man.

We have a small exhibit of images from his collection in Gorgas Library on the 2nd floor. A larger exhibit of Roland Harper materials will be on display in the Hoole Special Collections Library beginning in May. Here are a couple of interesting photographs from the collection. We hope to see you in Gorgas 205 today to hear Elizabeth Shores talk about Harper!

Root Cellar

People and gator, ca. 1920s.


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