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Chair of Botany and Plant Physiology (1906 - 1973)

Faculty of Science
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Function: Professorial Chair
Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Botany was first taught in the University of Melbourne by Professor Frederick McCoy, who was appointed to the Foundation Chair of Natural Science in 1854. It was the last of the subject areas encompassed in the original chair of Natural Science to gain a professorship in its own right. Prior to the arrival of the foundation Professor of Botany Alfred James Ewart in 1906, elementary botany was taught in the biology department.


1854 - 1899

McCoy has two pet 'botanical' projects, the Museum of Natural History and Applied Science, which remained at the University until 1899, eventually becoming the Museum of Victoria, and the System Garden.

1854 - 1899

Though extremely active and enthusiastic, Professor McCoy had to divide his energies between the subjects of zoology, chemistry, geology & botany. He teaches mainly structural botany following The Vegetable Kingdom by John Lindley (1853).


With the occupance of the biology and chemistry chairs, McCoy isrelieved of some of his teaching load.


Under pressure from the science graduates on the University Council, regulations for a new three year degree in science were formulated.


After the death of the foundation professor of chemistry, course reconstruction occurred Professor Baldwin Spencer, a dedicated zoologist and anthropologist, is appointed and teaches elementary botany in his new Biology department


An Introduction to the Study of Botany was published by Spencer's staff, A. Dendy and A. H. Lucas, with an introduction by Spencer stressing the need for this first text, the teaching of more botany and consideration of Australian flora.


Appointment of Alfred James Ewart to the foundation chair of Botany and Plant Physiology was a joint one, as the Professor of Botany at the University of Melbourne and Victorian Government Botanist.


The octagonal glass house is replaced by a rectangular one on the original site next to the tower.


Ewart is made full time Professor of Botany - The scientific output during his time at the University is astonishing

Related Entries for Chair of Botany and Plant Physiology

Previous and Subsequent Entities

 1854 - 1899 Office of the Professor of Natural Science
       1887 - 1919 Chair of Biology
             1906 - 1973 Chair of Botany and Plant Physiology
                   1974 - Chair of Botany (1974)

Academic Department


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Structure based on ISAAR(CPF) - click here for an explanation of the fields.Prepared by: Carolyn Rasmussen & Rachel Tropea
Created: 14 September 2001
Modified: 21 November 2001

Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre on AustehcWeb, October 2001
Comments, questions, corrections and additions: http://www.esrc.unimelb.edu.au/about/inquiries.html#comment
Prepared by: Acknowledgements
Updated: 16 November 2009

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