2020 Gunlogson Presentation

2020 Gunlogson Presentation

The Legacy of a Life in Botany: O.A. Stevens and the Handbook of North Dakota Plants

Presented by:
Laura Aldrich-Wolfe, Assistant Professor, NDSU Department of Biological Sciences and
Steven Travers, Associate Professor, NDSU Department of Biological Sciences

When: Thursday, October 15 @ 12:30-1:30pm

This is a virtual event via Zoom. Campus members, watch for the Libraries' email newsletter to acquire the link (to be sent out the week of the presentation). Community members, please email lindsay.condry@ndsu.edu to get the link.


From 1909-1956, O.A. Stevens was Professor of Botany at North Dakota Agricultural College (renamed North Dakota State University in 1960). In 1950 he published the Handbook of North Dakota Plants, which to this day remains the only published flora of North Dakota. It was also the first book published by NDSU Press. Stevens’ book reflects North Dakota’s location at the geographical center of North America and its historical role as the gateway to the West. Many of the plant species Stevens included in his flora were first described from specimens collected by the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-1806 as they followed the Missouri River across the Great Plains. O. A. Stevens's portrait from 1948 can be seen on the left (courtesy of NDSU Archives).

NDSU Biological Sciences faculty members, Assistant Professor Laura Aldrich-Wolfe (far left) and Associate Professor Steven Travers (left), are working to update the Handbook of North Dakota Plants to the 21st Century. In updating the Handbook, they hope to increase its utility for professional and amateur botanists alike, while retaining the charm and historical value of this unique document. Aldrich-Wolfe stated, “Dr. O.A. Stevens incorporated personal anecdotes and information on amateur botanists throughout the original Handbook of North Dakota Plants. In revising the Handbook, our goal is to maintain that sense of connection with the history of botany and the lives of botanists in North Dakota while updating the nomenclature and information to make the book more useful to the contemporary reader.”

NDSU Libraries will be hosting a virtual event on October 15 where Aldrich-Wolfe and Travers will be discussing three main topics: the history of botanical exploration in North Dakota, modern updates to the flora of North Dakota and the unique flora of North Dakota, and an emphasis will be placed on history and the historical and biological information captured in the Handbook. 

The Gunlogson fund, established by a gift from G.B. Gunlogson’s charitable remainder trust, supports scholarly work related to the publications and archives of the Institute for Regional Studies, advancing general university outreach. The fund is jointly managed by the NDSU College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and NDSU Libraries to enhance NDSU's land grant mission through Institute projects that preserve the cultural heritage of North Dakota.

We hope you can join us for this year’s presentation.


Photo at top: anemone patens, a classic prairie plant, taken by Biological Sciences student Kate Volk