How It All Began

“As well as a flourishing library, the school by 1909 had a wood collection containing specimens of nearly all of Pennsylvania’s native trees and large shrubs. For each species, cross sections and radial and tangential sections had been prepared to show the gross appearance of the wood. The next step was the preservation of samples in alcohol and glycerin so that sections suitable for microscopic examination could be cut. These latter sections were to be especially useful in the study of timber physics (wood technology)." E.H. Thomas, “A History of the Pennsylvania State Forestry School, 1903 – 1929.” p. 67

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Season of Giving...

I couldn't let this holiday season pass without mentioning to followers of this blog the generosity of three prodigious wood collectors to the Penn State Xylarium.

You know of course, that last year Mr. Dennis Brett, IWCS #257, donated his wonderful collection to Penn State, increasing the number of documented specimens in the collection by 3,981 specimens and nearly doubling the number of unique species in the collection from 1,760 to over 3,100. I've been busy validating and entering his collection into our database, and I can see the finish line on that project.

But just as if to ensure I don't catch up on my work, the University has recently received two more excellent donations to the Xylarium. But you'll hear no complaints from me.

Last month, Mr. John Colwell, IWCS #4698, donated his collection of 2,825 specimens to the Xylarium, and I picked it up a few weeks ago. It is a wonderfully documented collection, and Mr. Colwell, who is a Penn State alumnus, has the entire collection entered on a spreadsheet, which means that I'll be able to incorporate it into the Penn State collection in a mere matter of weeks.

Mr. Brett's donation increased the size of the Penn State collection from 4,115 to 8,096 documented specimens, and Mr. Colwell's donation pushes that number to 10,921 documented specimens, with around 4,000 unique species represented.

And just for a little icing on the cake, two weeks ago Penn State received another wonderful donation. Mr. Rejean Drouin, IWCS #3589, donated a badly-needed collection of Vietnamese wood specimens to our Penn State Xylarium. His donation consisted of 298 specimens of 182 different species of woods from three different regions of Vietnam.

So, the Penn State Xylarium has been blessed abundantly in this season of giving. It now contains over 11,000 documented specimens of over 4,000 species, with another 3,000 to 5,000 waiting for validation and documentation. Plenty of work to do there.

The three donations almost ready for filing away. Boxes on the floor at left are part of John Colwell's collection; the white box in the middle are the Vietnamese woods of Rejean Drouin; and the stacks of boxes on the right are Dennis Brett's former collection.

All this activity at the Xylarium is generating quite a bit of excitement at the University, as you may imagine. I have several researchers in different areas of investigation interested in collaborating on research projects and wanting to use the Xylarium specimens as part of the justification for pursuing research funding in wood chemistry, medical research, plant systematics, and genetic research.

And Mr. Brett, Mr. Colwell, and Mr. Drouin are now members of the fraternity of wood collectors who are helping make this research possible through their donations. All told, I believe there have been at least ten other IWCS members who've donated to the Penn State collection over the past seventy years, including some names you may recognize...Richard Jorgenson, Ken Bassett, Ron DeWitt, Mark Peet, and yours truly. All are names that will live in posterity through the research of folks not yet born.

That is truly the Spirit of Christmas Yet-to-Come.

Merry Christmas...