Drew Library has received a significant collection of books on botanical illustration, the gift of Lois E. Jackson C‘63. Ms. Jackson’s donation, to be called the Zuck Collection of Botanical Books, is named in honor of Florence and Robert K. Zuck, distinguished former professors of botany.
As Ms. Jackson humorously relates, she arrived at Drew with plans to major in mathematics, but was soon advised by her calculus professor to seek another area of study. Fortunately, she had also enrolled in Professor Robert Zuck’s Introduction to Botany course and there found her calling. Besides her immediate absorption in plant evolution and physiology, she discovered a native ability for executing the lab drawings that were required. Art history and studio art classes helped develop her skills and understanding of technique and mediums.
After graduating from Drew in 1963, Jackson worked at Dartmouth College as a laboratory assistant in plant taxonomy, where her drafting skills soon came to the attention of Dartmouth’s botany faculty. Eventually she was hired by the Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital in Hanover as a scientific, medical and technical illustrator. She prepared charts, microscopic slides, and illustrations of plants, animals and medical procedures, as well as creating and labeling the illustrations required for scientific and medical journal submissions. When her work took her further from botanical illustration and into medical technology, she decided to look for another position.
Her love of botanical drawing remained, though, and she was able to continue as an avocation what she had given up as a vocation. Jackson has studied with master botanical artists at the Chelsea Physic Garden in London, the New York Botanical Garden, and the British Society of Botanical Art.
As Jackson’s initial studies broadened to include an interest in the history of botanical art, she began to collect books on earlier artists and their materials and techniques. This in turn led her to the study of herbalists, plant-based medicine, economic botany, ethnobotany, garden design and ecology. She recalls that her first major purchase was the three-volume Britton and Brown Flora of Northeastern North America, which set her back almost a week’s salary in 1963. Her collection currently contains about 500 titles.
The Zuck Collection of Botanical Books encompasses historical and contemporary botanical art and illustration, plant exploration and discovery, herbals, florilegia, reference works, field guides, how-to books and technical studies. The Drew Library is grateful to Lois E. Jackson for her gift of this significant interdisciplinary resource.–Lucy Marks, Special Collections Cataloger
This story was originally published in Visions, Issue 34.
Representatives works from The Zuck Collection of Botanical Books will be on display in the Main Library from October 3rd – November 4th.