John Kunkel Small
John K. Small was a botanist and taxonomist most renowned for his
research on the flora of the southeastern United States, particularly
Florida. Born in January 31, 1869 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Small
studied botany at Franklin & Marshall College and Columbia University.
After receiving his doctorate from Columbia, Small served as the curator
of the institution's herbarium. In 1898 he moved to the newly founded New
York Botanical Garden, where he remained until his death in 1938. He
personally collected over 60,000 specimens for the Garden's
Small was one of the first botanists to explore Florida and he
documented many areas that had previously been unknown. His first trip to
Florida occurred in 1901. Over the next 37 years, he returned many times
to collect specimens, to study the natural history of the region, and to
photograph natural landscapes, tropical plants, Seminoles and other local
folk. His excursions were conducted by car and boat, and often included
his wife Elizabeth and their four children.
Small's botanical research was recorded in 450 published works, mostly
articles, and numerous unpublished typescripts. Among his most well-known
publications is the book From Eden to Sahara--Florida's
Tragedy, which received acclaim in 1929 for documenting the severe
deterioration of south Florida's
botanical resources that he had
observed up to that time.
Much of Small's Florida work is reflected in the John
Kunkel Small Collection maintained by the Florida State
Archives, comprising 25 cubic feet of correspondence and thousands of
photographs. More than 3600 of these images are freely accessible through
the web site of the Florida State Archives.
While the collections represented in Reclaiming the Everglades contain only a small sample of materials relating to the life and work of
Dr. Small, no history of the South Florida environment would be complete
without recognizing his contributions.
Biography prepared by Gail Clement, Florida
Excerpt of letter from John Kunkel
Small to Minnie Moore-Willson, January 21, 1929. From Moore-Willson
Papers, University of
"There is much
activity now to get parts, at least, of the Everglades rescued from the
Photo courtesy of
Florida State Archives, John
Kunkel Small Collection