Bill Burk’s New Book: Putting Down Roots
Newly released and available on Amazon:
Putting Down Roots: Foundations of Botany at Carolina
February 20, 2023
$54.00 – 616 pages
by William R. Burk (Author)
This book traces the development of the academic discipline of botany at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1792 to 1982. Coverage of the professors who taught botany during UNC’s first century includes their biographical background, pedagogical style, scientific instruction, and contributions to science. The academic influences that each of these educators had on Carolina are also noted. The concluding chapter, constituting about one-sixth of the volume, describes the UNC Department of Botany, established in 1908. The principal focus of this chapter is the department’s accomplishments, its faculty, and its graduate students. Several significant themes are woven through the text, particularly for the 1800s: the University Museum, the idea of establishing a model farm, the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society, the emergence of laboratory practice in the curriculum, the University Library and the sciences, and the campus landscape and its beautification. Included among the noteworthy milestones of the university and of Chapel Hill are the first woman to teach botany, the early history of the freedmen’s school for Black children, and the establishment of the campus’s first chemical teaching laboratory. The book should be of interest to historians of botany and science. Other potential audiences include individuals interested in the history of UNC, the pioneering role of women in science, the education of the freedmen, and the role of scientific societies in advancing scientific knowledge.
William R. Burk is a retired life science librarian. His early service was at academic libraries of the University of Utah, the University of Guam, and the University of California–Santa Barbara. Subsequently, he was the Botany (later Biology) Librarian at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for thirty years.