The Bailey Herbarium serves the joint Biology Department of the College of St. Benedict and St. John's University. The history of the collections has essentially paralleled the nature of the academic relationship between the College of St. Benedict and St. John's University. Just as the academic programs of the two institutions were merged into a joint enterprise resulting in a single biology department, so too were merged their individual herbarium collections. The once separate herbaria from each school were merged into a single entity in approximately 1978 when the collections at the College of St. Benedict were moved to the St. John's campus in a small room on the third floor (see photo below).
The first curator of the joint herbarium collection was Nick Zaczkowski, Ph.D. He and Sister Phyllis Plantenberg, OSB, chair of the biology department at the time, supervised the move. Dr. Zaczkowski remained curator of the joint herbarium until his retirement in May 1994 when the current curator, Stephen G. Saupe, Ph.D., was appointed to replace him.
Looking back, the original herbarium at the College of St. Benedict began with the purchase before 1917 of the over 4000 plants collected by Z.L. Chandonnet. His specimens date to 1888 and come from around the world. Later, Sister Remberta Westkaemper, O.S.B., and her students added to the collections. Ms. Mabel Coyne, an oblate to the Order of St. Benedict, served as an assistant. Under their direction the collection grew to about 12,000 sheets and became a well‑recognized source of plants from Stearns County. After Sister Remberta retired, the collections languished until the merger and Dr. Zaczkowski took over curatorial responsibilities.
The Herbarium of St. John's University was established by Father Urban Fischer in 1885. He was the first scientist at St. John's to begin systematic studies of plants. From 1905 to 1934, Father James Hansen, O.S.B. conducted extensive botanical (and entomological) fieldwork, in part as a treatment for his tuberculosis. During his reign as curator he added almost 1500 specimens of mosses, ferns and flowering plants to the St. John's Herbarium. Under his guidance, the collections became recognized as one of the best in the state and he obtained the Flora Exsiccata Austro‑Hungarica from the Abbey von Seitstetten. In addition, Hansen published extensively on Minnesota plants. In the mid-to-late 1960's Father Gunther Rolfson, O.S.B., also served as curator.
In 1981, Dr. Saupe received a grant from the Otto Bremer Foundation to catalog the fungi and lichen collections in the herbarium and to mount the Flora Exsicatta Austro‑Hungarica collection. This work was finished in late 1983.
The merger of the CSB/SJU collections into a single herbarium was finally completed in 1995. Previously, there were four different sets of collections stored in the herbarium: (1) collections from the original CSB herbarium; (2) collections from the original SJU herbarium; (3) the Chandonnet collection originally owned by CSB; and (4) the Flora Austro‑Hungarica Exsiccata collection originally owned by SJU. Prior to the merger, in order to locate specimens of a particular plant a user would have to search all four collections. Now, these four collections are now merged into a single, permanent, research collection making it much more convenient to find specimens.
Accompanying the merger of the collections: (1) the collections were re-filed according to Cronquist's (1993) system of phylogenetic classification, updating the previous Engler/Prantl arrangement; (2) folders were color‑coded to represent the geographical origin of the plants; (3) family dividers were created; (4) alphabetical and numerical listings of the families were made and posted to make it easier to locate specimens; (5) the drying cabinet was refurbished; (6) unlabeled specimens or those that lacked collection data or were otherwise unsuitable, were separated from the permanent collections and filed alphabetically by family in a separate teaching collection; (6) laminated specimens used for teaching were separated from the other collections and filed alphabetically by family; and (7) the collections were accessioned by assigning each specimen a unique number.
In May 1998 the entire herbarium was moved into storage in semi-trailers parked outside of the Science Center while the building underwent an extensive summer renovation. In September the herbarium moved into its current location, Room 327 of the Peter Engel Science Center. Shortly after, the herbarium was named, the CSB/SJU Bailey Herbarium to honor the generous support of Gordon & JoAnne Bailey. Note that the name of the building was changed from "Science Center" to "Peter Engel Science Center" in Fall 2000 to honor Abbot Peter Engel who was a great proponent of the study of the natural sciences at the end of the 19th century at St. John's.
The herbarium now occupies the most attractive room in the building (see photo). Visitors to the herbarium enjoy a spacious work area with natural lighting supplied by a wall of windows. Live plants, displays, photographs and music make this a pleasant environment to visit. A large table provides an area to relax, study or work.
The future of the Herbarium will focus on digitizing the collections. We are in the process of preparing a computerized database of the collections including images which will be posted to the world wide web. We look forward to the completion of this project to share our outstanding resource with the rest of the world.
prepared by Dr. SG Saupe; CSB/SJU Biology Department (updated Spring 2003)
Copyright © 2009 College of Saint Benedict (37 South College Avenue, St. Joseph, Minnesota 56374; 320-363-5011) and
Saint John's University (P.O. Box 2000, Collegeville, Minnesota 56321; 320-363-2011). All rights reserved.
Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employers. E-mail the CSB/SJU Web Coordinator.