Frederick Vernon Coville Field books, 1896-1907, 1924-1934
"It is clear that while skimmed milk, buttermilk, casein and whey are useful as fertilizers for blueberry plants, cream and sugar are not. These are still best utilized, in accordance with established practice, on the blueberries themselves fresh from the ice box."
[Portrait] Frederick V. Coville (Science Service) Acc. 90-105 - Science Service, Records, 1920s-1970s, Smithsonian Institution Archives
[Plant] Porophyllum leucospermum, Death Valley Exped., United States National Herbarium http://botany.si.edu/types/showImage.cfm?mypic=00124968.jpg
Frederick Vernon Coville (1867-1937), was a botanist and expert in rushes, currants and blueberries. His association with the USDA and Smithsonian spanned forty-nine years, and he authored more than 170 publications. During his career, he took part in expeditions to Arkansas (1888); Death Valley (1891), one of the earliest collecting trips for desert vegetation; and Alaska (1899). He was an important advocate for the creation of the National Arboretum, curator of the United States National Herbarium in 1896 after its transfer from the USDA to the Smithsonian, and honorary curator until his death.
His professional achievements were extensive, but none can be judged sweeter than his success with the blueberry. Prior to Coville’s efforts, blueberries had to be gathered from wild bushes, and rarely grew well outside of Canada and New England. Farmers had determined the plant incapable of being grown commercially.
[Enroute fieldbook image] Frederick V. Coville Field book (1924) Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana
In 1911, Elizabeth White, daughter of a cranberry farmer in Pine Barrens, New Jersey, read about Coville’s work on blueberries and approached him with an offer to use their farm as a site for his research. Coville used wild blueberry bushes growing along the cranberry bogs of the property, working to determine optimal growing conditions and develop a strong plant with pleasant fruit. Coville discovered that blueberries require unusually acidic soil and cool temperatures to thrive, conditions that would kill most crops. By 1916, they had developed a commercially viable plant. Areas of the country that were unusable for most crops proved optimal for blueberries.
[Fieldbook] Frederick V. Coville Field Book (1898), Oregon
Coville’s work extended well beyond the fruit; as a collector he traveled most of the eastern and western United States, including Death Valley.
Many of Coville's trips resulted in major publications, and he was a recipient of the George R. White Gold Medal of Honor for his lifetime of achievements.
Coville’s field notes provide a variety of detail and context to his collecting. There are several formats from the Death Valley Expedition; basic catalogs of specimens, detailed itinerary, and journal entry style, including descriptions of daily activities, environments of specimen collecting, and detailed lists of plants in surrounding areas. This variety and can be found throughout his field notes. These field notes also include work he completed with such distiguished colleagues as John B. Leiberg (1896), Thomas Henry Kearney (1898-1899), and Frederick Funston (1890-1891).
Coville, Frederick. “Taming the Wild Blueberry.”The National Geographic Magazine, Vol. 22, Issue 1, p. 137-147.
“Frederick Vernon Coville.” Cosmos Club Bulletin. Vol. 20, No. 1, January 1967.
Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences. Vol. 27, No. 2, February 15, 1937.
National Geographic Society. “Taming’ wild plants wins highest Horticulture award.” Geographic News Bulletin. Issue 2117.
Noyes, Newbold. “Obituary.” Washington Star. March 19, 1967.
“Obituary.” Science. Vol. 85, No. 2203, p. 280.
Summary of the "Historic Architectural Survey and Preservation Planning project" for the Village of Whitesbog, Burlington and Ocean Counties, NJ, by the Historic Conservation & Interpretation, Inc. September 1982. http://www.whitesbog.org/whitesboghistory/history1.htm
“U.S. National Arboretum Herbarium.” By Frederick G. Meyer. United State Department of Agriculture. Agricultural Research Service. March 3, 2011. http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/np/systematics/arboretum.htm?pf=1