About the Collection
Almost since its inception, the Smithsonian Institution has acquired botanical collections for scientific study. In the 1960s William L. Stern, then Chairman of the Department of Botany, played an important role in reorganizing and promoting the growth of what is now the Wood Collection of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. In 1960 the wood collections of the Division of Agriculture and Wood Products of the Smithsonian's Museum of History and Technology (now the National Museum of American History) were transferred to the Department of Botany. These collections formed the basis for a Division of Woods, the name of which was changed to Division of Plant Anatomy in 1963.
Today the Wood Collection contains ca. 42,500 specimens representing almost 3000 genera. Approximately 60% of the specimens are vouchered, with most of the vouchers deposited in the U.S. National Herbarium (US). However, a significant number of voucher specimens are deposited in other herbaria. For example, H. H. Bartlett collections are frequently vouchered by specimens in the herbarium of the University of Michigan (MICH).
Approximately 5000 microscope slides are associated with the Wood Collection. Additionally, a number of card files are tied to the collection. Much, but not all, of the data in these files are being made available electronically in the Wood Collection database. A common name reference for many specimens, however, was not converted to electronic form.