An Historical Overview of the BSA
The Botanical Society of America was formally established in 1893
as an offshoot of the Botanical Club of the American Association
for the Advancement of Science. The first BSA Council meeting was held as part of the first annual scientific meeting of the Society, August 27 and 28, 1895, in Springfield Massachusetts. Minutes
of the first BSA Council meeting (1895).
In 1906 it became a larger association
of plant scientists with the merging of the then, Society for
Plant Morphology and Physiology (founded in 1896) and the American
Mycological Society (founded in 1903).
Its initial membership
included a wide range of scientists from around the United States
and Canada. Today membership spans the globe, with members in
over 80 countries, and includes scientists, professors, teachers,
students, botanists and people just plain interested in botany
The first President of the Society was William Trelease (Missouri Botanical Garden). Other officers
of the day included Nathaniel L. Britton ( New York Botanical Garden) as Vice-President, John D. Smith as treasurer and Charles R. Barnes as Secretary (1907-09).
In later years, the structure of our governing body changed several times, adding
three new positions as we sought to better meet the needs of our members and serve the science of botany. The
first occurred in 1964 with the inclusion of the Program Director, William A.
Jensen (1964-66), and was designed to support and strengthen our commitment
to the BSA annual conference and scientific meetings.
In an effort to add longevity to the governing body of the Society, in 1982
we added the positions of President Elect and Past President. Along with this
move the position of BSA president became a three-year rotation through the
offices of President Elect, President and Past President. The first to hold
this position of President Elect was Barbara D. Webster. (For a full list of
the current and past officers of th Society, please see BSA Officers.)
In February of 1914 the Brooklyn Botanic Garden published the first edition
of the American Journal of Botany,
the official publication of the Botanical Society of America. The AJB
is a peer-reviewed, scientific research journal focusing on developments and
issues within the science of Botany.
F. C. Newcombe, from the University of Michigan, was the first
Editor-in-Chief of the AJB.
He held this position through 1917 and was followed by Charles
E. Allen of the University of Wisconsin. To date there have been
eighteen Editor-in-Chiefs with Judy Jenrsedt of University of
California, Davis, currently holding the position. (For a full
list of past Editors-in-Chief for the AJB
please see AJB
- Past Editors)
In 1955 the Botanical Society began publication of the Plant
Science Bulletin. Its first editor was Harry Fuller from the
University of Illinois (1995-58). Marshall Sundberg of Emporia State University
is the current editor. (For a full list of Plant Science Bulletin editors
please see PSB
- Past Editors)
In the early 1990's it became clear that science and the support of sciences
in general was changing. The BSA's governing body sought to and established
a plan for the science of Botany. In doing so we published the report Botany
for the Next Millennium. During the same period we published
the booklet, Careers
in Botany. Please feel free to download and print either of