1877 - 1955:
The Kansas State University Herbarium (KSC is our official acronym) was established in 1877 and is among the oldest, largest, and most diverse collections of preserved plants in the Great Plains region, with holdings estimated at 190,000 specimens. It has a rich history of activity, both in basic taxonomic research and applied work. Mycologist William A. Kellerman served as its first curator (from 1883-1891, after which he joined The Ohio State University) and was instrumental in establishing an early legacy for natural history collections-based science at KSU that was taken up feverishly by his successors, Albert S. Hitchcock (1890-1901, after which he became Chief of Agrostology at the U.S. National Herbarium, Smithsonian Institution) and, later, Frank C. Gates (1919-1955). These latter two workers were among the first Great Plains floristic experts; their activity and that of their protégés resulted in the core of the Herbarium. Hitchcock and his students ventured onto the prairies of the region during the late 1800s, documenting the original flora of what is now an imperiled ecosystem. As a result of Hitchcock's research program, the KSU Herbarium houses the most complete record of Kansas plants from the late 1800s and is unique in the region due to its important historical holdings. Gates added greatly to the collection through his research program, and his curatorial work is evident throughout the Herbarium.