Collaborative Research in the Liberal Arts

Summary: An evolving digital library focused on the botanical history of the Carolinas. Focuses of research are digital imagery of botanical specimens from the Sloane Herbarium in London, with associated electronic texts, data collections, and indices. This project uses the CITE Infrastructure, developed by the Homer Multitext (C. Dué & M. Ebbott, editors).


Botanica Caroliniana is an inter-institutional, inter-disciplinary collaborative project in research, teaching, and publication, that focuses on the botany of the Carolinas from their earliest exploration by Europeans to living plants under curation and in the wild today. This work addresses modern botanical science in its own terms, but also as a legacy of (and actor in) intellectual, economic, and political history going back to ancient scientists and works of natural history in Greek and Latin. This project invites collaboration among professional scholars, graduate students, and particularly undergradutes in the disciplines of Botany, Environmental Science, American History, Classics, and Computer Science.

The project’s deliverables will be traditional scholarly articles on historical, linguistic, and scientific topics, but its true aims are (a) to provide educational experiences to students at two institutions enriched by focused work toward meangingful contributions to knowledge, and (b) an expanding body of well-documented data in open formats and under open-content licenses, available for use, integration, and re-purposing through a flexible and ontologically rigorous digital library architecture.


New Publication: McMillan, P.; Hackney Blackwell, A, “(2359) Proposal to conserve the name Clethra alnifolia (Clethraceae) with a conserved type”, Taxon Volume 64, Number 3, 25 June 2015, pp. 637-638(2).

Amy Hackney Blackwell presented “Teaching & Research Across 300 Years: Wilderness, Herbarium, Public Garden” at a conference celebrating the 425th Anniversary of the Hortus Botanicus in Leiden. May, 2015.

New publication: Blackwell, A.H., P.D. McMillan, and C.W. Blackwell. 2014. “John Lawson’s plant collections, Virginia and North Carolina 1710–1711.” Phytoneuron 2014-94: 1–23.

We have added the ability to search fields in data-objects, and the contents of online texts, from the Botanica Caroliniana web application.

We were honored to find data from this project cited in Reveal, James L., Kanchi N. Gandhi, and Charles E. Jarvis. “Epitypification of the Name Laurus Borbonia (Lauraceae).” Taxon 63, no. 4 (August 28, 2014): 918–20. doi:10.12705/634.44.

Botanica Caroliniana has received support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support collabortive undergraduate research in Liberal Arts approaches to historical botany and forensic ecology. This grant will support a course at Furman University, ongoing work on digital publication of historical botanical specimens and other data, and collaboration with European institutions.


Blackwell, A.H., P.D. McMillan, and C.W. Blackwell. 2014. “John Lawson’s plant collections, Virginia and North Carolina 1710–1711.” Phytoneuron 2014-94: 1–23.

Lecture: Patrick McMillan & Amy Hackney Blackwell, “Rediscovering Catesby’s Carolina”, Natural History Museum, London. July 18, 2014.

Lecture: Christopher Blackwell, Amy Hackney Blackwell, Patrick McMillan, “The Codex and the Herbarium”, 21st Century Curators Series, The British Library, July 17, 2014.

Lecture: Amy Hackney Blackwell, “300 Years of Carolina Botany”, United States Botanic Garden, Washington, DC, January 24, 2014.

Amy Hackney Blackwell, “Botanica Caroliniana" South Carolina Wildlife November-December 2013.

Amy Hackney Blackwell, Christopher Blackwell, “Hijacking Shared Heritage: Cultural Artifacts and Intellectual Property Rights” 13 Chicago-Kent Journal of Intellectual Property 137 (2014).

McMillan, P.D. and A.H. Blackwell. 2013. The vascular plants collected by Mark Catesby in South Carolina: Combining the Sloane and Oxford herbaria. Phytoneuron 2013-73: 1–32.

Amy Hackney Blackwell, “A Field Trip with Mark Catesby” Chinquapin: The Newsletter of the Southern Appalachian Botanical Society 20.4, Winter 2012.

Amy Hackney Blackwell & Patrick McMillan, “Collected in 1704 in South Carolina: The plants of Joseph Lord” Phytoneuron 2013-59:1–15.

Amy Hackney Blackwell, Transforming the South Carolina Botanical Garden

Listen to Walter Edgar interview Amy Hackney Blackwell and Patrick McMillan about Botanica Caroliniana, Mark Catesby, and historical botany on South Carolina Public Radio

McMillan, P.D., A.H. Blackwell, C. Blackwell, and M.A. Spencer. 2013. “The vascular plants in the Mark Catesby collection at the Sloane Herbarium, with notes on their taxonomic and ecological significance.” Phytoneuron 2013-7: 1–37.