Papers of Frederick Orpen Bower, 1855-1948, botanist

Scope and Content

Correspondence between Bower and colleagues worldwide 1890-1922

Material on the administration of Glasgow University Botany Department; correspondence 1885-1948

Press cuttings 1919-1941

Obituaries 1948

Teaching records 1882-1932

Testimonials 1883-1885

Administrative / Biographical History

Frederick Orpen Bower ( 1855-1948  ), researched and published widely on the Pteridophyta, particularly ferns and was one of the principal exponents of the "interpolation theory" of alternation in their life-cycle.

After graduating with a first class degree from Trinity College, Cambridge, England, Bower attended the Universities of Würzburg, Germany, and Strasbourg, France. He returned to take up the position of lecturer in botany at the University College, London, where he made anatomical studies of plants. He was appointed Regius Professor of Botany at the University of Glasgow in 1885  . He actively enjoyed teaching and under his 40 year direction, the school gained a world-wide reputation for morphological botany. He nurtured an active interest in the new field of palaeobotany highlighting the relationship between modern and fossil plants. He continued to publish after his retirement and his major publications include: The Origin of a Land Flora (1908), The Ferns (1923-1928) and Primitive Land Plants (1935). He acted as Dean of Faculties for the University from 1929-1940.

Bower was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1891 and awarded the Linnean Medal in 1909, the Royal Medal in 1910, and the Darwin Medal in 1938. He was President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh from 1919-1924 and the British Association in 1930. He was awarded the ScD by the University of Cambridge, the DSc by Dublin and Sydney and the LLD by the Universities of Aberdeen and Glasgow. His University of Glasgow LLD was awarded in 1925 for his work as professor of botany.

Source: The NAHSTE Project which used Gillispie, Charles C. , , vol iiDictionary of Scientific Biography ( United States , Scribner  , 1972  ) ; ; Encyclopaedia Britannica, , Vol 4 , vol. ii and iiiEncyclopaedia Britannica, A New Survey of Universal Knowledge ( Chicago , William Benton  , 1964  ) The Concise Dictionary of National Biography, From Earliest Times to 1985 ( Oxford , Oxford University Press  , 1992  )


The collection was listed at item level by the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists . Some minor alterations have been made at the University of Glasgow to bring the numbering into line with the other deposited collections. The original alphanumeric reference system has been replaced as follows: DC2/A/1 has been replaced with DC 002/12/1, DC 002/B/1 with DC 002/13/1, etc. Minor additions to the collection have also been made since the papers were first catalogued.

Conditions Governing Access


Acquisition Information

Deposit: Glasgow University Botany department: 1970

Deposit: Professor Charles Chesters (Additional deposit)

Deposit: Professor Alastair Wardlaw (Additional deposit)

Transfer: Glasgow University Library Special Collections Department: 1981 : ACCN 0220

Deposit: Professor A D Boney: 1993: ACCNs 1256, 1281

Gift: Professor Wilkins: 1998: ACCN 1740

Other Finding Aids

Digital item level list available in searchroom and on the NAHSTE Project website

Manual file level list available at the National Registers of Archives in Edinburgh (NRA(S)1022) and London (NRA18906)

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the University Archivist

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use & condition of documents

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 248 procedures

Custodial History

Most of the papers were found in a cupboard in Professor Malcolm B Wilkins office, Glasgow University Botany Department in 1970. They were transferred to the Glasgow University Archives Department soon after. There were subsequent deposits from Professor Charles Chesters of his correspondence with Professor Bower (DC2/15/42/1-11) and from Professor Alastair Wardlaw of Bower's lecture notes for 1911, lent to Professor Wardlaw's father who was assistant to Bower and subsequently undertook the revision of Bower's book Botany of the Living Plant (1919).


None expected

Related Material

No related material


Boney, Arthur D,Botany (Unpublished)

Boney, Arthur D,Biography of Frederick Orpen Bower (Unpublished)

Thomson, RY,A Faculty for Science, A Unified Diversity: A Century of Science in the University of Glasgow(Glasgow, University of Glasgow, 1993)

Neilson, J B,Fortuna Domus: A Series of Lectures Delivered in the University of Glasgow in Commemoration of the Fifth Centenary of its Foundation(Glasgow, University of Glasgow, 1952)

Walton, John,Natural History

Additional Information

This material is original

Compiled by Moira MacKay , Assistant Archivist, 23 September 1997.

Updated by the NAHSTE Project in 2002

System of arrangement and Biographical History updated and acknowledgement to the NAHSTE Project made by Moira Rankin, Senior Archivist, 12 February 2003