A Project of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art
History of Early American Landscape Design

Jane Colden

[http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/research/casva/research-projects.html A Project of the National Gallery of Art, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts ]
Revision as of 20:02, September 8, 2021 by M-westerby (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)


Birth Date: March 27, 1724

Death Date: March 10, 1766

Birth Location: New York City, New York

Used Keywords: Fountain, Meadow, Prospect, Seat

Other resources: Library of Congress Authority File;

Export as RDF

Jane Colden (March 27, 1724–March 10, 1766), the first woman botanist in America, introduced exotic plant specimens to the garden of her family’s farm near the Hudson Highlands of New York. She is best known for documenting several hundred plants indigenous to that region, employing Linnaeus’s system of botanical classification.


Fig. 1, Jane Colden, A page from her botanical manuscript describing no. 69, “Yellow Lilly with the flowers standing upright” (Lilium philadelphicum), c. 1750s.

Born in New York City, Jane Colden spent most of her life at Coldengham, a 3,000-acre farm established by her father, Cadwallader Colden, in a wilderness area ten miles west of Newburgh.[1] She shared an interest in horticulture with her mother, Alice Chrystie Colden (1690–1762), a keen gardener.[2] She gained an understanding of botany from her father, a provincial government administrator, who, in 1742, had begun the first scientific documentation of New York flora using the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus’s new system of binomial classification. Convinced that women were well suited to excel at botany, and that it was only the arcane manner of scientific writing that discouraged them (view text), Cadwallader Colden gave his daughter “an explication of the principles of Botany in writing . . . don[e] in such manner as I thought would excite her curiosity” (view text). He translated Linnaeus’s Latin into English, and replaced “all the terms of art” with “common English expressions.”[3] Swiftly mastering the art of botanical description in English, she began cataloging plants in the vicinity of her home [Fig. 1]. In addition to describing their appearance and habits, she gathered information from Indians and “country people” on the plants’ medicinal and domestic uses.[4]

Daily access to thousands of acres of wilderness afforded Colden a unique advantage as a botanist, and she located numerous plants that had eluded her father, who complained of “not having sufficient opportunity to repeat my examinations of the plants which I only met casually & did not see many of them more than once.” Jane, by contrast, was able to “[fill] up a good deal of idle time agreably to her self & as she is more curious & accurate than I could have been[,] her descriptions are more perfect & I believe few or none exceed them” (view text).[5] In her “curiosity” for botany, Colden’s father saw a means of providing her with meaningful work while advancing the important botanical investigations that his European correspondents had frequently appealed to him to resume.[6] “She will be extremely pleased in being imployed by you either in sending descriptions or any seeds you shall desire or dryed Specimens of any particular plants you shall mention to me,” he assured the Dutch botanist Johann Friedrich Gronovius (1686–1762) in 1755, adding: “She has time to apply her self to gratify your curiosity more than I ever had.”[7]

Colden’s botanical work probably began around 1752 and was well advanced by the autumn of 1753, when the Philadelphia botanist and nurseryman John Bartram and his son William spent an evening at Coldengham “look[ing] over some of ye Dr[’s] daughter[s] botanical curious observations” (view text). Around the same time, the British merchant and plant dealer Peter Collinson congratulated Cadwallader Colden on his “Daughter[’s] Likeing to Botany,” remarking with polite condescension, “It is a Delightfull amusement & a pretty accomplishment for a young Lady, for after the knowledge of plants, it may Lead her to Discover their Virtues & uses.”[8] Three years later, having examined “several sheets of plants very Curiously Anatomised” by Colden, Collinson was more impressed, praising the “Scientificall Manner” of her work in a letter to John Bartram and adding: “I believe she is the first Lady that has Attempted any thing of this Nature.”[9] During the summer of 1756 Colden taught the rudiments of botany to fourteen-year-old Samuel Bard, who went on to distinguish himself as a botanist and landscape designer. According to Bard’s biographer, he drew some of her specimens, thereby “doubl[ing] the value of his companion’s botanical researches by perpetuating their transient beauties or peculiarities.”[10]

Fig. 2, Jane Colden, A page from her botanical manuscript illustrating nos. 153–56, “Gardenia,” “Digitalis,” “Lobelia blue Cardinal,” and “Veronica,” c. 1750s

In 1757 Colden sent some of her meticulous plant descriptions to Bartram, who pored over her letter several times and vowed to preserve it in his collection of treasured letters from European botanists. Moreover, he wrote, “I should be extreamly glad to see thee at my house & to shew thee my garden” (view text). Despite Bartram’s invitation, Colden never seems to have ventured out of New York, contenting herself with botanical exchanges that allowed her to enrich the garden at Coldengham with plants from far-flung corners of America and the world. Her letter of 1757 to Bartram evidently included a list of seeds she desired from his nursery, most of them indigenous to climates similar to New York’s, but some reflecting a more experimental approach. “Ye amorpha is A beautiful flower,” Bartram responded cautiously, “but . . . won[’]t your cold winters kill it?”[11] Colden was already experimenting with the cultivation of subtropical plants (including the amorpha) obtained through correspondence with Alexander Garden, a botanical enthusiast in Charleston who had admired her Linnean descriptions while visiting Coldengham during the summer of 1754.[12] Having observed her careful tending of the garden’s rarest plants,[13] Garden sent her “Persian seeds” obtained from a Russian physician (view text), as well as seeds of plants native to South Carolina, including umbrella tree (Magnolia tripetala), fringe tree (Chionanthus), yellow jessamy, and horse chestnut (Aesculus pavia var. pavia). He promised to instruct her in the preservation of butterflies, and wrote Cadwallader Colden that he would “be greatly obliged to you[r] Da[ugh]t[er] for any seeds or Insects that she can pick up” (view text).[14] In return, Colden sent northern specimens to Garden, including the seeds and description of an Arbutus which she took to be a new genus (though he disagreed).[15] When it proved that she had already documented in 1753 a genus he thought he was the first to discover a year later, she generously offered to name it Gardenia in his honor [Fig. 2]. Proud of the distinction, Garden publicized Colden’s find, sending both of their descriptions of the plant to the Scottish physician Robert Whytt (1714–1766), who had them published under the auspices of the Philosophical Society of Edinburgh in 1756.[16] Garden pressed Colden’s “discovery” on his former professor, Charles Alston (1683–1760), superintendent of the botanic gardens at Edinburgh, as well as Gronovius and Carl Linneaus himself, but was informed (erroneously, as it happened) that the plant was in fact already known.[17]

Fig. 3, Jane Colden, Nature print of leaf, 1740–50s.

As a complement to her descriptive texts, Colden pursued various forms of botanical illustration. According to her father, “She was shewn a method of takeing the impression of the leaves on paper with printers ink by a simple kind of rolling press which is of use in distinguishing the species by their leaves" [Fig. 3].[18] Cadwallader’s friend Benjamin Franklin had used the same technique in the 1730s to document plants indigenous to Philadelphia supplied to him by John Bartram.[19] Alexander Garden had admired examples of Jane’s nature prints during his visit to Coldengham. “[She makes] perfect images, by her own certain ingenious method, of the numerous plants kept by her father,” he informed Gronovius in March 1755.[20] Seven months later, Cadwallader Colden informed Gronovius that Jane had made impressions of 300 plants (“some of which I think are new Genus’s”) and that her anglicized Linnean descriptions filled “a pretty large volume in writing.”[21] In October 1757 he informed the British physician and plant collector John Fothergill (1712–1780) that she had “described between 3 & 400 American plants in the [Linnaean] manner.” Moreover, he added, “of late [she] has begun to draw figures of the plants which she thinks have not been allready well described,” notwithstanding the fact that “she has no instructor in drawing[,] has few or no good copies & was only shewn how to use china ink with a pencil.”[22] Many of these drawings—simple outlines of leaves in ink accented by a neutral-toned wash—survive in her bound manuscript listing 341 plants, most of them accompanied by Linnaean descriptions [Fig. 4]. The volume also contains one of her nature prints—one of the few surviving examples of the 300 she made.[23] More sophisticated botanical illustrations by Colden may have perished, for the surviving examples are difficult to reconcile with one visitor’s comment (c. autumn 1758) that “she draws and colours them with great beauty” (view text).

Fig. 4, Jane Colden, A page from her botanical manuscript illustrating nos. 68, 69 (“Lilium Yellow Lilly”), and 70 (Lysimachia), c. 1750s.

To aid Colden’s botanical studies, her father assembled a small collection of illustrated botanical books. “As she cannot have the opportunity of seeing plants in a Botanical Garden,” he remarked to Peter Collinson in a letter of c. 1755, “I think the next best is to see the best cuts or pictures of them” (view text).[24] Collinson supplemented these books with engravings by the renowned botanical illustrator Georg Dionysius Ehret (1708–1770), “for your Ingenious Daughter to take Sketches of the fine Turn of the Leaves.” He also expressed his wish that William Bartram were nearby, for his drawings of plants “come the Nearest to Mr Ehrets” and “he would much assist her at first Setting out” (view text). In fact, some of Bartram’s drawings may already have come to hand. In 1755 his father wrote Jane that William had “made A pockit [packet] of very fine drawings for the[e] far beyond Catesbys, took them to town & tould me he would send them very soon.”[25]

Cadwallader Colden assiduously promoted the accomplishments of his “Ingenious Daughter” through the closely interconnected network of American and European botanists with whom he corresponded.[26] He sent examples of her botanical texts and illustrations to the physician Robert Whytt (1714–1766) in Edinburgh, the merchant-botanist Peter Collinson and physician John Fothergill (1712–1780) in London, Gronovius in Holland, and Garden in South Carolina.[27] They, in turn, trumpeted the news to others—including Linnaeus and the British merchant and naturalist John Ellis (c. 1710–1776)—urging the acceptance of her discoveries as new genera, and the naming of a plant Coldenella in her honor.[28] Colden herself expressed ambivalence about the exposure that accompanied her growing fame. Alexander Garden was chastised for writing too extravagantly of her achievements, and she begged one of his correspondents, Charles Alston, for more discretion.[29] “You complasantly intimate that anything that I shall communicate to you, shall not be conceald,” she wrote on May 1, 1756. “But this I must beg as a favour of you, that you will not make any thing publick from me, till (at least) I have gained more knowledge of Plants” (view text).[30]

Colden continued to produce perceptive descriptions of New York flora until 1759, the year she married the Scottish physician William Farquhar (a friend of Alexander Garden) and evidently abandoned botanical pursuits.[31] Her botanical manuscript has preserved her reputation as a gifted botanist. In 1782 it was in the possession of Friedrich Adam Julius von Wangenheim (1749–1800), a Hessian soldier and botanist who studied North American trees and shrubs while commanding a cavalry squadron in New York and Pennsylvania from 1778 to 1783.[32] It was also the uncredited source for several plants referenced in Materia Medica Americana, published in 1787 by one of von Wangenheim’s countrymen, the botanist and physician Johann David Schoepf (1752–1800), who served as chief surgeon to a German regiment stationed in New York during the Revolution.[33] The manuscript later passed to the British botanist and plant collector Joseph Banks (1743–1820), and is now in the collection of the Natural History Museum, London. A limited edition facsimile was published in 1963 by the Garden Club of Orange and Dutchess Counties, New York.[34]

Robyn Asleson


  • Colden, Jane, September 2, 1753, letter from New York City to her mother Alice Chrystie Colden at Coldengham (1937: 9:126–27)[35]
“I am very glad you have had Company that have diverted you, & that you have been imploy'd in improving your Garden, as I know the pleasure you take in it. . . Mrs. Nicholls has promised me some Tuby [torn] Roots & I shall beg her for some, others kinds & [torn] Seeds. . .

“I and Billy. . . reached Dr Colden’s by noon. Got our dinner, and set out to gather seeds, and did not get back till two hours within night; then looked over of ye Dr[’s] daughter[’]s botanical curious observations.” back up to History

  • Willett, Alice Colden, June 25, 1754, letter from Harisons Purchase to her sister, Katharine Colden at Coldengham (Colden 1937: 9:137–38)[35]
“I shoud give you a description of the place, it is calld the majours neck Surrounded with meadows on one side, and the other a prospect of the Ocian the ground so level that we dancd Minuates and Contry dances and so fine a shade of pine Trees, that we never need put on our hats. The first thing we did after we got to the place, was to prepare dinner of fine black fish and Lobsters. . . We then sat down upon the green grass, and din'd most daintely, musick playing all the time, after this we had several dances, by this time it was neer Sun sat, and we all prepard for returning home, but was stopt by the way by the Majour, who had been with us all day and give all the company a hearty invitation to his seat, where we was intertaind with wine and punch in great plenty, the Majour himself as gay as any young man, and niver stopt from dancing for several hours together, pray tell Sister Jenny [Jane Colden] that I wish she coud have seen him, I assure her he appeard to much greater advantage in his own house than he did when she saw him here. . . He has a pleasant place and a good h[ou]se and also a pretty fountain, so that there seems nothing wanting but a Mistress to take care of it, but me thinks I hear you say what a deal you write about Miss Jennys admirer, and tell me not a word of my own.”

“I have had severall Letters from Europe & a pretty parcell of Seeds from Russia from Dr Mounsey cheif Physician to the Army & Physician to the Prince Royal of Russia they are mostly Persian seeds I have sent a few to Miss Colden. . . I mentioned to Miss Colden that the Small Bags of Shells something like Hops that she has are the reall Matrices of the Buccinum ampullatum of Dr Lister. . . I shall in my next mention to Miss Colden the method of preserving Butterflies &c.” back up to History

“Its now passed the Season of Seeds but I'll endeavour to procure Such as Miss Colden may want this year, tho my present Business confines me much to Town. I have not had an hour to spend in the woods this 2 months which makes me turn rusty in Botany.”

“I thought that Botany is an Amusement which may be made agreable for the Ladies who are often at a loss to fill up their time if it could be made agreable to them[.] Their natural curiosity & the pleasure they take in the beauty & variety of dress seems to fit them for it[.] The chief reason that few or none of them have hitherto applied themselves to this study I believe is because all the books of any value are wrote in Latin & so filled with technical words that the obtaining the necessary previous knowlege is so tiresome & disagreable that they are discouraged at the first setting out & give it over before they can receive any pleasure in the pursuit.
“I have a daughter who has an inclination to reading & a curiosity for natural phylosophy or natural History & a sufficient capacity for attaining a competent nowlege[.] I took the pains to explain Linnaeus’s system & to put it in English for her use by fre[e]ing it from the Technical terms which was easily don[e] by useing two or three words in place of one[.] She is now grown very fond of the study and has made such progress in it as I believe would please you if you saw her performance[.] Tho’ perhaps she could not have been persuaded to learn the terms at first[,] she now understands in some degree Linnaeus’s characters notwithstanding that she does not understand Latin[.] She has allready a pretty large volume in writing of the Description of plants. She was shewn a method of takeing the impression of the leaves on paper with printers ink by a simple kind of rolling press which is of use in distinguishing the species by their leaves. No description in words alone can give so clear an idea as when the description is assisted with a picture She has the impression of 300 plants in the manner you'l[l] see by the sample sent you[.] That you may have some conception of her performance & her manner of describing I propose to inclose some samples in her own writting some of which I think are new Genus’s. One is of the anax foliis ternis ternatis in the Flora Virg. I never had seen the fruit of it till she discover'd it[.] The fruit is ripe in the beginning of June & the plant dies immediately after the fruit is ripe & no longer to be seen. Two more I have not found described any where & in the others you will find some things particular which I think are not taken notice of by any author I have seen[.] If you think S[i]r that she can be of any use to you she will be extremely pleased in being imployed by you either in sending descriptions or any seeds you shall desire or dryed Specimens of any particular plants you shall mention to me[.] She has time to apply her self to gratify your curiosity more than I ever had & now when I have time the infirmities of age disable me.” back up to History

“I shall [. . .] send you a Sample of my daughter Jenny’s performances in Botany. As it is not usual for woemen to take pleasure in Botany as a Science I shall do what I can to incourage her in this amusement which fills up her idle hours to much better purpose that the usual amusements eagerly pursued by others of her sex[.] As she cannot have the opportunity of seeing plants in a Botanical Garden I think the next best is to see the best cuts or pictures of them[,] for which purpose I would buy for her Tourneforts Institutes & Morison’s Historia plantarum, or if you know any better books for this purpose[,] as you are a better judge than I am[,] I will be obliged to you in making the choice[.] If Mr Calm’s [sic] Observations in America be published pray send it to me or any thing else which is new & you like on that subject. At the bottom I shall annex a list of some things & other books I must desire the favour of you to send to me. . .
Ainsworth’s Latin & English Dictionary
Supplement to Chambers’s Dictionary
Tournfort Institutiones herbarise
Morison’s Historia Plantarum
Fred. Hoffman Opera omnia
back up to History

  • Colden, Jane, May 1, 1756, to Charles Alston (quoted in Philippon 2001: 24–25)[41]
“I have the unexpected honour of your very obliging favour of the 8th of Sept last, but blush to think how much you will be disappointed in the expectations Dr Garden has raised in you, if ever you should have a further knowledge of me, his fondness for incouraging the Study of Botany, made him pass the most favourable judgement of the little things I have done in that way. It must be no less a desire to incourage the Study of this delightfull Science, could induce you to condescend to honour me with an invitation to correspond with you. If I can in any way serve you, either by sending you Seeds, or the Characters (such as I am able to form) of our Native Plants, I shall always be proud of obeying your Commands; And shall at this time, so far presume on the liberty you give me as to send you the Characters of a Plant which my Father tells me, he take to be the same that Dr Gronovius in his Flora Virginica calls Panax foliis ternis tornatis Page 147. I shall be glad to know whether you think it is a new Plant, if not, to what Genus you suppose it belongs; To which if you will please to add any Corrections, or be so good as to give me any Instructions in Botany, they will be most thankfully received.
“You conplaisantly intimate that anything that I shall communicate to you, shall not be concealed, but this I must beg as a favour of you, that you will not make any thing publick from me, till (at least) I have gained more knowledge of Plants, and then perhaps I shall be able to make some amendments to my Discriptions.” back up to History

“I received thine of October ye 26th 1756 & read it several times with agreeable satisfaction indeed I am very carefull of it & it keeps company with ye choicest correspondents, ye European letters[.] ye viney plant thee so well describes I take to be ye dioscoria of hill & Gronovius tho I never searched ye characters of ye flower so curiously as I find thee hath done. . . I should be extreamly glad to see thee once at my house & to shew thee my garden. . . I shewed him [William Bartram] thy letter & he was so well pleased with it that he presently made a pockit of very fine drawings for the far beyond Catesbys took them to town & tould me he would send them very soon. . .
“I have several kinds of ye Cockleat or snail trefoil & trigonels [415] or fenugreck but being annual plants they are gone off[.] ye species of persicary thee mentions. . . . Ye amorpha is A beautiful flower but whether wont your cold winters kill it[?] if ye Rhubarb from London be ye Siberian I have it I had ye perennial flax from rusia Livonia[.] it growed 4 foot high & I dont know but 50 stalks from A root but ye flax was very rotten & course[.] Ye flowers large & blew[.] it lived many years & died[.] neither what you will want this [.] I am quite at A loss what seeds to gather & what quantity to preserve.” back up to History

“Did Miss Colden receive the Seeds which I sent; they were the following The Chionanthus or Fringetree. 2d The Hop-tree a new genus—3 Yellow Jessamy 4 Campellia a most beautifull flowring shrub—yucca foliis filamentosis—Pavia or scarlet Horsechesnut— Umbrella tree or the Magnolia foliis Amplissimis flore ingenti Candidi. . .
“I will be greatly obliged to you [sic] Da[ugh]t[er] for for any seeds or Insects that she can pick up, very soon I'll write her at great Length.” back up to History

“I have in Mrs Alexanders Trunk Sent you the Herbals you wanted and putt in 2 or 3 of Erhetts Plants, for your Ingenious Daughter to take Sketches of the fine Turn of the Leaves &c. & Lin: Genera.
“I wish your fair Daug[hte]r was Near Wm Bartram he would much assist her at first Setting out. John[’s] Son a very Ingenious Ladd who without any Instructor has not only attained to the Drawing of Plants & Birds, but He paints them in their Natural Colours So Elegantly So Masterly that the best Judges Here think they come the Nearest to Mr Ehrets, of any they have Seen[.] it is a fine amusement for her[;] the More She practices the more She Will Improve, by another Ship, I will Send Some more prints but as they are Liable to be taken I Send a few at a Time.” back up to History

“For this reason [the medicinal use of newly discovered plants] I send you the Description & figure of a Plant don[e] by my Daughter Jenny which I think has not been before described & likewise makes a New Genus. Perhaps it may be in the new Edition of Linnaeus’s Characters I have not as yet seen that Edition but if it be there is no figure of it in that book & it may be of use to have the description of a new plant by different hands.
“When I removed my family into the country & thereby my children were deprived of all those amusements in which young people take delight I thought the putting them at some research[,] which would fix their attention & at the same time please their fancy[,] might remove that disgust to their present situation which I apprehended otherwise could not be avoided. For that purpose I put an explication of the principles of Botany in writing into my daughter Jenny’s hands[,] don[e] in such manner as I thought would excite her curiosity[,] & afterwards translated Linnaeus’s method[,] but in some parts altered to make it the more easy for her[,] avoiding all the terms of art through the whole & makeing use of common english expressions[.] She eagerly swallow'd the bait & you cannot imagine with what pleasure she has passed many an hour which otherwise might have been very dull & heavy[.] She has described between 3 & 400 American plants in the manner this is don[e] & of late has begun to draw figures of the plants which she thinks have not been allready well described. When it is considered that she has no instructor in drawing[,] has few or no good copies & was only shewn how to use china ink with a pencil you will easily pardon where she has failed in the art & yet allow her some genius for that kind of drawing. After she had advanced a little in the knowledge of plants her fondness for the amusement made her acquire some Knowledge of botanic latin tho’ she does not otherwise understand anything of the language.
“Perhaps from her example young ladies in a like situation may find an agreable way to fill up some part of time which otherwise may be heavy on their hand[,] May amuse & please themselves & at the same time be usefull to others.” back up to History

  • Colden, Cadwallader, February 15, 1758, letter to unknown correspondence [Dr. Robert Whytt?] (Colden 1923: 5:217)[45]
“The characters I made of the plants I was sensible were very imperfect not only from the want of sufficient knowledge in botany but from my not having sufficient opportunity to repeat my examinations of the plants which I only met casually & did not see many of them more than once. Soon after this I was so much engaged in public business that I was obliged to lay aside my botanical researches.
“I was exceedingly pleased that soon after that time my daughter Jane took an inclination to Botany after I had explained the principles of it to her in familiar language. She now fills up a good deal of idle time agreably to her self & as she is more curious & accurate than I could have been[,] her descriptions are more perfect & I believe few or none exceed them. As her fondness for this study grew upon her She attempted likewise drawings of the plants & considering that she had no instructor the proficiency she has made & the justness of her figures surprise those who have seen them. Last summer she sent a drawing of the Filipendula foliis ternis of Gronovius or the Virginian Ipecocuana to Dr Garden but we know not whether it is come to his hand. She observed that the seeds of this plant are contained in Capsule & for that reason she thought that it makes a distinct Genus from the Filipendula. I shall desire her to subjoin to this paper a Description of that Species of the Lobelia [torn] above mentioned for the cure of the lui[?] venera. The differences in the cup or empalement as well as the colour of the flower makes it a distinct species from that with Scarlet flowers commonly called the Cardinal flower.” back up to History

  • Rutherfurd, Walter, n.d. (c. autumn 1758), letter to his family in Scotland, describing a visit to Coldengham (quoted in Rutherfurd 1894: 13)[46]
“At one of our landings we made an excursion to Coldenham [sic] the abode of the venerable Philosopher Colden, as gay and facetious in his conversation as serious and solid in his writings. From the middle of the Woods this Family corresponds with all the learned societies in Europe. . . His daughter Jenny is a Florist and Botanist, she has discovered a great number of Plants never before described and has given their Properties and Virtues, many of which are found useful in Medicine, and she draws and colours them with great beauty. Dr. Whyte [Whytt] of Edinburgh is in the number of her correspondents. N.B. She makes the best cheese I ever ate in America.” back up to History


Other Resources

American National Biography Online

Jane Colden manuscript in the Natural History Museum, London

Jane Colden’s plants in the field

Jane Colden Native Plant Sanctuary, Knox’s Headquarters State Historic Site, New York


  1. For a vivid evocation of life in Coldengham’s “primeval forest” and “untouched wilderness,” see Barbara Hollingsworth, Her Garden Was Her Delight (New York: Macmillan Company, 1962), 23–29, view on Zotero.
  2. For Jane and Alice Colden’s delight in gardening, see Cadwallader Colden, The Letters and Papers of Cadwallader Colden, 9 vols. (New York: New-York Historical Society, 1937) 9:12–27, view on Zotero; Cadwallader Colden, The Letters and Papers of Cadwallader Colden, 9 vols. (New York: New-York Historical Society, 1923), 5:72, view on Zotero; Edmund Berkeley and Dorothy Smith Berkeley, Dr. Alexander Garden of Charles Town (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1969), 43, view on Zotero. See also Anna Murray Vail, “Jane Colden, An Early New York Botanist,” Torreya 7 (February 1907): 31–32, view on Zotero; Samuel W. Eager, An Outline History of Orange County  (Newburgh, NY: S. T. Callahan, 1846), 245, view on Zotero.
  3. Cadwallader Colden to John Fothergill, October 18, 1757 in Colden 1923, 5:202–3; see also 5:29–31 for a similar account, view on Zotero.
  4. Sara Stidstone Gronim, “What Jane Knew: A Woman Botanist in the Eighteenth Century,” Journal of Women’s History 19 (Fall 2007): 48, view on Zotero; James Britten, “Jane Colden and the Flora of New York,” Journal of Botany, British and Foreign 33 (January 1895): 15, view on Zotero.
  5. For a detailed analysis of her progress as a botanist, see Gronim 2007, 40–41, 49 view on Zotero.
  6. Colden 1923, 5: 29–30, 203, view on Zotero.
  7. Cadwallader Colden to Johann Friedrich Gronovius, October 1, 1755 in Colden 1923, 5:30–31; see also 5:139, view on Zotero.
  8. Peter Collinson to Cadwallader Colden, September 1, 1753 in Peter Collinson, “Forget Not Mee & My Garden”: Selected Letters 1725–1768 of Peter Collinson, F.R.S., ed. Alan W. Armstrong (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 2002), 173, view on Zotero.
  9. Peter Collinson to John Bartram, January 20, 1756, in Bartram 1992, 393, view on Zotero.
  10. John McVickar, A Domestic Narrative of the Life of Samuel Bard, M.D., LL.D. (New York: A. Paul, 1822), 10, view on Zotero.
  11. John Bartram, The Correspondence of John Bartram, 1734–1777, ed. Edmund Berkeley and Dorothy Smith Berkeley (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1992), 413–14, view on Zotero.
  12. For Garden’s description of the amorpha and his comment that “Miss Colden will be much pleased with it,” see his undated fragmented of a letter, presumably to Cadwallader Colden, in Vail 1907, 30, view on Zotero.
  13. Berkeley and Berkeley 1969, 43, view on Zotero.
  14. Alexander Garden to Cadwallader Colden, February 18, 1755, and April 15, 1757, Colden 1923, 5:5, 142; see also 5:11, 120, view on Zotero; Asa Gray, ed., Selections from the Scientific Correspondence of Cadwallader Colden with Gronovius, Linnæus, Collinson, and Other Naturalists (New Haven: B. L. Hamlen, 1843), 51, view on Zotero.
  15. Colden 1923, 5:41, 91–92, 114–16; see also 5:227, view on Zotero.
  16. Alexander Garden [and Jane Colden], “The Description of a New Plant; by Alexander Garden, Physician at Charleston in South Carolina,” in Essays and Observations, Physical and Literary (Edinburgh: G. Hamilton and J. Balfour, 1756), 2: 1–5, view on Zotero; see also Colden 1923, 5:10, view on Zotero. Peter Collinson sent the published article (“the Curious Botanic Desertation of your Ingenious Daughter”) to Cadwallader Colden, remarking that she was “the Only Lady that I have yett heard off [sic] that is a proffessor [of] the Linnaean System of which He [Linnaeus] is not a Little proud”; see Peter Collinson to Cadwallader Colden, April 6, 1757, in Colden 1923, 5:139; see also 5:10, view on Zotero.
  17. Daniel J. Philippon, “Gender, Genius, and Genre: Women, Science, and Nature Writing in Early America,” in Such News of the Land: U.S. Women Nature Writers, ed. Thomas S. Edwards and Elizabeth A. De Wolfe (Hanover: University Press of New Hampshire, 2001), 24–25, view on Zotero; James Edward Smith, A Selection of the Correspondence of Linnaeus, and Other Naturalists: From the Original Manuscripts, 2 vols. (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1821), 1:366–67, view on Zotero; Berkeley and Berkeley 1969, 53, 74, view on Zotero. The plant is now most commonly known as Virginia marsh-St. John’s-wort (Triadenum virginicum).
  18. Cadwallader Colden to Johann Friedrich Gronovius, October 1, 1755, in Colden 1923, 5:29–30, view on Zotero.
  19. Alan W. Armstrong, “John Bartram and Peter Collinson: A Correspondence of Science and Friendship,” in America’s Curious Botanist: A Tercentennial Reappraisal of John Bartram, 1699–1777, ed. Nancy Everill Hoffmann and John C. Van Horne (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 2004), 28, view on Zotero.
  20. Alexander Garden to Johann Friedrich Gronovius, March 15, 1755, quoted in Berkeley and Berkeley 1969, 43, view on Zotero.
  21. Cadwallader Colden to Johann Friedrich Gronovius, October 1, 1755, in Colden 1923, 5:29–31, view on Zotero.
  22. Cadwallader Colden to John Fothergill, October 18, 1757, Colden 1923, 5:202–3; see also 5:217, view on Zotero. For a recent discussion of Colden’s drawings in relation to the illustrations in English Renaissance herbals, see Philippon 2001, 23–24, view on Zotero.
  23. Seventeen impressions of leaves, together with Colden’s botanical descriptions (which were enclosed in a letter of October 1, 1755, from Cadwallader Colden to Johann Friedrich Gronovius), are preserved with the original letter in the William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan.
  24. Cadwallader Colden to Peter Collinson, n.d. [October 1755?], in Colden 1923, 5:37–38, view on Zotero. The books requested from Collinson included Institutiones rei herbariae (1700) by Joseph Pitton de Tournefort and Plantarum Universalis Oxoniensis (1680–99) by Robert Morison, as well as Robert Ainsworth’s Latin and English dictionary. Cadwallader Colden later reported that his daughter had acquired “some Knowledge of botanic latin tho’ she does not otherwise understand anything of the language”; Cadwallader Colden to John Fothergill, October 18, 1757 in Colden 1923, 5: 203, view on Zotero.
  25. John Bartram to Jane Colden, January 24, 1757, in Bartram 1992: 413–14, view on Zotero.
  26. For a discussion of gender bias in the reception and mediation of Jane Colden’s work by male botanists, see Joan Hoff Wilson, “Dancing Dogs of the Colonial Period: Women Scientists,” Early American Literature 7 (Winter 1973): 226–27, view on Zotero.
  27. Colden 1923, 5:29–31, 37, 39, 190, 198, 202–3, 217, view on Zotero; Bartram 1992, 393, view on Zotero.
  28. Collinson 2002, 198, view on Zotero; Smith 1821, 45, 95, 98, view on Zotero; Colden 1923, 5:139, 198, 297, view on Zotero; “Notices of European Herboria, Particularly Those Most Interesting to the North American Botanist,” American Journal of Science and Arts 40 (1840): 5, view on Zotero. In addition to her so-called Gardenia discussed above, Colden’s Fibraurea (gold thread) was discounted as a new genus by Linnaeus. See Colden 1923, 5:202, view on Zotero; Smith 1821, 95, view on Zotero. Colden’s father also sent Alexander Garden her description and drawing of what she took to be a new genus of Filependula, but it was never received; see Colden 1923, 5:217, 227, view on Zotero.
  29. Colden 1923, 5:10–22, view on Zotero; Philippon, 24–25, view on Zotero.
  30. For Colden’s negotiation of “a borderland where the decorum expected of a botanist overlapped with that expected of a woman,” see Gronim 2007, 35–59, view on Zotero.
  31. Vail 1907, 33–34, view on Zotero; Colden 1923, view on Zotero.
  32. For Wangenheim’s efforts to promote the naturalization of North American species in Germany, particularly as director general of waters and forests of eastern Prussia, see John Fiske, Appleton’s Cyclopedia of American Biography, ed. James Grant Wilson, 6 vols. (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1889), 6:346, view on Zotero; see also Britten 1895, 25–26, view on Zotero; Mary Harrison, “Jane Colden: Colonial American Botanist,” Arnoldia 55 (Summer 1995): 24–26, view on Zotero; Beatrice Scheer Smith, “Jane Colden (1724–1766) and Her Botanic Manuscript,” American Journal of Botany 75 (July 1988): 1090–96, view on Zotero.
  33. Gronim 2007, 49–50, view on Zotero.
  34. Jane Colden, Botanic Manuscript of Jane Colden 1724–1766, ed. H. W. Rickett and E. C. Hall (New York: Garden Club of Orange and Dutchess Counties, 1963), view on Zotero.
  35. 35.0 35.1 Colden 1937, 9, view on Zotero.
  36. 36.0 36.1 Bartram 1992, view on Zotero.
  37. Colden 1923, 5:5 view on Zotero.
  38. Colden 1923, 5:10-11 view on Zotero.
  39. Colden 1923, 5:29-31 view on Zotero.
  40. Colden 1923, 5:37-38 view on Zotero.
  41. Philippon 2001, view on Zotero.
  42. Colden 1923, 5:141-142 view on Zotero.
  43. Colden 1923, 5:190 view on Zotero.
  44. Colden 1923, 5:202-203 view on Zotero.
  45. Colden 1923, 5:217 view on Zotero.
  46. Livingston Rutherfurd, Family Records and Events: Compiled Principally from the Original Manuscripts in the Rutherfurd Collection (New York: De Vinne Press, 1894), view on Zotero.

Retrieved from "https://heald.nga.gov/mediawiki/index.php?title=Jane_Colden&oldid=41921"

History of Early American Landscape Design contributors, "Jane Colden," History of Early American Landscape Design, , https://heald.nga.gov/mediawiki/index.php?title=Jane_Colden&oldid=41921 (accessed June 2, 2023).

A Project of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts

National Gallery of Art, Washington