Augustin Gattinger was born on February 3, 1825 in Munich, Germany and died July 18, 1903 in Nashville, Tennessee. He was a botanist and medical doctor who, in 1901, published the first extensive catalog of the botany of his adopted state entitled Flora of Tennessee and Philosophy of Botany. This book remains his greatest contribution to the study of botany in the South.
He arrived in the United States in 1849 after being dismissed from the University of Munich for participation in dissident student groups and the celebration of George Washington’s birthday. After spending some 15 years practicing medicine in Chattanooga and East Tennessee, his pro-Union sympathies forced him to flee to Nashville in 1864. He served as an assistant surgeon in the United States Army and was subsequently appointed State Librarian from 1864-1869.
During his years in East and Middle Tennessee, Dr. Gattinger pursued the study of botany, using the travelling he did as a country doctor as an opportunity to amass an extensive collection of plant specimens. He began corresponding with prominent botanists from all over the country and was able to meet many of them when they convened at a meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Science in Nashville in 1877. At this gathering he was encouraged to compile his extensive knowledge of the then unexplored botany of Tennessee into a catalog. This small volume, The Flora of Tennessee, with Special Reference to the Flora of Nashville, was self-published in 1887 and paved the way for Dr. Gattinger’s subsequent work, Medicinal Plants of Tennessee, which was published in 1894 under the auspices of the State of Tennessee Department of Agriculture. Flora of Tennessee and Philosophy of Botany, his major work, was published in 1901. In 1890 he donated his extensive herbarium to the University of Tennessee where it remained until the building housing it burned to the ground in 1934 and all specimens were lost.
Scope and Contents
The Augustin Gattinger Papers consist of one Hollinger box (0.417 linear feet).
The Augustin Gattinger Papers (1825-1903) are composed primarily of correspondence with the addition of one folder containing newspaper clippings and articles along with handwritten reminiscences of Dr. Gattinger by friends and associates.
The bulk of the letters in the collection consist of Dr. Gattinger’s correspondence with prominent botanists of the day including Asa Gray of Harvard, Leo Lesquereux and A.W. Chapman, the renowned collector of Southern plants. Much of the material involves the publication and distribution of Dr. Gattinger’s book, Flora of Tennessee and Philosophy of Botany.
Correspondence - Outgoing
Correspondence - Incoming
Overview | Complete Finding Aid (pdf)
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