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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: August 2019

10 - Wanted Weeds: Environmental History in the Whipple Museum

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Summary

This essay uses a recent acquisition by the Whipple, a seed herbarium called ‘The Origin of Seeds Source Indicators’, to explore the curious history of the global trade in commercial seed stocks in the early twentieth century. Little was known about this seed collection when the Whipple Museum acquired it. There was no place or date of creation, no record of its ownership, and, most pressingly, no knowledge of the uses for which it had been intended. Investigating this enigmatic object exposed the intriguing link between weeds, seeds, and commercial forage stocks in an increasingly international seed market, as well as the many challenges of using laboratory instrumentation to try and manage the tumult of international agricultural exchange.