An Historical Overview of the BSA

Click on image to see the minutes of the first BSA meeting, 1894. 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 and/or plants.

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 19 Editor-in-Chiefs with Pamela Diggle of the University of Connecticut 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 (1955-58). Mackenzie Taylor of Creighton University is the current editor. (For a full list of Plant Science Bulletin editors please see PSB - Past Editors)

Botany in the Next Millennium

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 the items.