Collection TitleJohn Baker Papers
TitleJohn Baker Papers
DescriptionLoose botanical notes, volume of correspondence and papers relating to Baker's employment, retirement and pension, Madagascar notebooks, notebook
Creator NameBaker, John Gilbert (1834-1920)
Extent5 volumes and 3 boxes
Administrative HistoryBaker was born in Guisborough, Yorkshire on the 13th January 1834 and died at Kew, Surrey on 19th August 1920. His interest in botany may have been sparked when he studied at the Quaker school, Bootham in York in 1846, which encouraged its pupils to study natural history. At the age of 15 he also had a note about a boggy wood in Yorkshire, which he identified as Carex persoonii (now carex curta). He was involved with the national plant exchange scheme when following his suggestion the Thirsk Natural History Society of which he was secretary and curator took over the exchange after it was suspended by the London Botanical Society Exchange in 1859. Upon his move to London in 1866 to accept a job offer at RBG Kew made by Sir Joseph Hooker, the Thirsk Botanical Exchange Club was then taken over by the newly created London Botanical Exchange Club, with Baker as joint curator.

Baker worked at RBG Kew beginning as an assistant in the Herbarium in 1866 and finally progressing through the ranks to become principal assistant to the Keeper in 1884, before finally becoming Keeper himself in 1890. During his career he worked on taxonomic research including the completion of Sir William Hooker's Synopsis filicum, the publication of the Flora of Mauritius and Seychelles (1877) and the sixth volume of Flora Capensis (1896-7). He also gave botanical lectures at the London Hospital Medical School (1869-81), the Chelsea Physic Garden (1882-1896) and to student gardeners at RBG Kew (1874-1904). Throughout his career he was also a regular contributor to the JOURNAL OF BOTANY, JOURNAL OF THE LINNEAN SOCIETY, GARDENERS CHRONICLE and the KEW BULLETIN. Baker's work as a botanist was awarded throughout his career as he received many accolades being made a Fellow of the Linnean Society in 1866, Fellow of the Royal Society in 1878 and awarded the Victoria Medal of Honour in 1897. In addition the genuses bakerella, bakeria and neobakeria were named in his honour.
Custodial HistoryThe catalogue of new ferns (QX 89-0003) and accession QX 92-0011 were transferred to the archives by Peter Edwards of Fern section of RBG Kew Herbarium on behalf of a Mr Ballard's family from his effects. The correspondence within accession QX 89-0011 was transferred to the Archives after being found in the Herbarium within the compositae-helianthus section. The provenance of the remaining parts of the collection is unknown.
ArrangementThe collection has been arranged into four series with BAK/1 containing correspondence, BAK/2 consisting of notes on madagascan plants and BAK/3, BAK/4, BAK/5 containing botanical notes on different plant types.
LanguageEnglish, French, German
Physical Description5 volumes and three boxes containing loose manuscript notes
Related MaterialCorrespondence sent by Baker can additionally be found in the collection of J D Hooker: JDH/2/1/1 Letters to J.D. Hooker vol 1 ACL-BAL c. 1840s-1900s (folios 232-233) and JDH/3/3 Flora of British India and Imperial Gazetteer of India 1851-1906 (folios 3-4); Henry Ridley collection HNR/2/1/1 Letters to H.N Ridley ABS-CLA, 1882-1945 (folios 50-63); letters to W B Hemsley Vol 1 (folios 13-14); letters to M C Cooke (folios 2-3), letters to J D Duthie vol 1 BAB-FUL (folios 12-17), in RBG Kew Miscellaneous correspondence and the Directors Correspondence volumes 33 English Letters 1853 (f 9), 77 English Letters A-BAL 1866-1900 (f 324-325), 118 English Letters A-BERN 1911-1920 (f 173), 135 North Europe Letters AGA-GOE 1845-1900 (f 120) and 146 S. European Letters A-HAN 1845-1900 (f 23). Papers relating to Baker are also contained within the RBG Kew volume Herbarium Staff 1860-1879 (folios 58-100), and the Miscellaneous Report for Mascarene Islands Botanical Exploration 1876-1890 (folio 94).
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