Skip to main content

John Jackson albums of specimens of dried flowers and plants

Identifier: MSS 0093-Item 0016

Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of two albums of specimens of dried and pressed plants and wild flowers made by early nineteenth-century London Grove, Pennsylvania, botanist John Jackson between 1810 and 1819. One of the albums was given to Dr. Francis Alison (1751-1813), son of the Presbyterian minister and educator Rev. Dr. Francis Alison (1705-1779).

The first, smaller album contains 47 hand-numbered pages of dried and pressed flowers, with the first page bearing Jackson's inscription to Alison, which reads: "These few specimens of dried flowers etc. is gratefully presented to Doctor Francis Alison by John Jackson." The inscription is surrounded by several plant samples, including one identified as wire grass. Though undated, the album must have been made prior to Dr. Alison's death in 1813. The volume includes a variety of individually lettered plant specimens pasted and affixed with paper straps to the right-hand pages of the album, with hand-written identifications of the specimens appearing on the pages opposite the samples. Many plants are identified by both their common English and Latin names, however others are only identified by one name or the other. Some plants are not identified by either name. Examples of some (though by no means all) of the flowers and plants identified include the following: barberry, wood anemone, dogwood, aster, columbine, solomon seal, water cress, and delphinium. The album is in rather fragile condition, with the majority of the specimens having fallen out of the first six pages of the album. After these initial pages, however, most of the specimens are still attached.

The second, larger album contains 99 hand-numbered pages and bears no inscription or presentation page. The specimens in this album are less consistently identified, with descriptions of the specimens variously appearing directly on the paper straps attaching the specimens to the page, on the opposite page with the specimens identified by letter (as in the previous volume), on separate paper labels laid into the volume near the specimens, or not at all. However, two separate lists in Jackson's hand and originally laid into the smaller of the two volumes identify most of the samples in this volume by page number (though identifications for pages 7 through 40 are not provided). These lists were written on the backs of two proposals to publish by subscription John Pinkerton's A Complete Collection of Voyages and Travels: Forming a Complete History of the Origin and Progress of Discovery, by Sea and Land, from the Earliest Ages to the Present Time (circa 1809-1812) upon which John Jackson is listed as a subscriber. As noted, a few of the labels are laid into this larger album. These labels provide greater description of the specimens than is found in the other album, with some labels providing the place where the specimen was collected, the name of the individual who collected it or sent it to Jackson, and the date when it was collected. It is possible that some of these laid-in labels were written by Jackson's contemporary Dr. William Darlington (1782-1863), as several notes bear his initials. One such example includes that found on page 11, which reads: "Euphorbia Cyathophora. Raised from seed sent by Dr. Baldwin from E. Florida - 1817. W.D." Some of the specimens in this album were never mounted or identified and are instead loosely laid into the album, particularly between pages 7 and 40.

In addition to the separate lists of plant specimens described above, a handful of other miscellaneous items were originally laid into the front of the smaller volume. These include a letter (presumably to John Jackson) from "cousin" Isaiah Jackson dated September 8, 1812, and discussing cotton; a fragment of a letter to and from unknown individuals dated August 18, 1801; and a paper scrap that on one side lists members of the Jackson family and what appears to be the titles of books and their costs, and on the verso lists more plant identifications with corresponding numbers from 56 to 77. However, these specimen identifications do not appear to relate to the specimens found in either album.


  • Creation: approximately 1810-1819


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections, University of Delaware Library,

Biographical Note

American botanist John Jackson was born in London Grove, Pennsylvania, on November 9, 1748, to Pennsylvania Quakers William and Katherine (Miller) Jackson. Jackson, the fifth child (and fourth son) of William and Katherine's seven surviving children, inherited his family's 300-acre estate, Harmony Grove, upon his father's death in 1785. At Harmony Grove Jackson explored his interests in botany and gardening and established a garden that complemented that of his Pennsylvania Quaker contemporary and friend Humphry Marshall.

Jackson began planting gardens at Harmony Grove as early as 1776 or 1777. By the time of his death in 1821 Jackson had cultivated about an acre and a half of ground at Harmony Grove where he grew a wide variety of ornamental, rare, foreign, and indigenous plants, many of which he had obtained by trading seeds with fellow domestic and European botanists. In addition to his interests in botany, Jackson also studied mineralogy and was a member of the Chester County Cabinet of Natural Science with other local botanists including Marshall, Joshua and Samuel Pierce (owners of the arboretum that would later become Longwood Gardens), Dr. Francis Allison, Dr. William Baldwin, and Dr. William Darlington.

Jackson married Mary Harlan, daughter of Joel and Hannah Harlan, on February 11, 1775, and together they raised seven children. After his death, Jackson's sixth child, William (1789-1864), inherited Harmony Grove and continued many of the gardens that his father had started.

Barnard, Ella Kent. "An Old Botanic Garden."The Journal of the Friends' Historical Society13 (1916): 16-19. "Chester County Cabinet of Natural Science." InThe Register of Pennsylvania devoted to the preservation of every kind of useful information respecting the state, edited by Samuel Hazard. Philadelphia: Printed by W.F. Geddes, 1828."Isaac Jackson" and "William Jackson." In History of Chester County, Pennsylvania: with genealogical and biographical sketches, edited by J. Smith Futhey and Gilbert Cope. Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1881.Jackson, Halliday.Proceedings of the sesqui-centennial gathering of the descendants of Isaac and Ann Jackson, at Harmony Grove, Chester Co., Pa., eighth month, twenty-fifth, 1875. Together with the family genealogy. Philadelphia: Published by the committee for the family, 1878.


2 volume (146 pages) ; 46 x 30 cm


This collection consists of two albums of specimens of dried and pressed plants and wild flowers made by early nineteenth-century London Grove, Pennsylvania, botanist John Jackson between 1810 and 1819. One of the albums was given to Dr. Francis Alison (1751-1813), son of the Presbyterian minister and educator Rev. Dr. Francis Alison (1705-1779).


Purchase, 2010.

Related Materials in this Repository

This item forms part of MSS 0093 Commonplaces, Albums, and Scrapbooks collection.

Shelving Summary

  1. Item 0016: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0093 FOLIO+

OCLC Number


Processed and encoded by Lora J. Davis, September 2010.

Finding aid for John Jackson albums of specimens of dried flowers and plants
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2010 September 21
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA