January 11, 1850
Today is the birthday of the American pioneer botanist, plant pathologist, and mycologist, Joseph Charles Arthur.
Known for his work with a group of plant fungus known as rusts, Joseph became the first department chair for Botany and Plant Pathology at Purdue University. Joseph held the chair position for half a century.
During his time at Purdue, Joseph built a repository of over 40,000 rust specimens. Although Joseph kept these rust specimens at Purdue, he felt the collection belonged to him because he paid for them with his own personal funds. Despite Joseph’s private investment, Purdue insisted the collection belonged to the University.
So, in the middle of the night, Joseph packed up his entire herbarium - cabinets and all - putting everything into moving vans. In a single night, the entire Arthur herbarium was moved into Joseph's house.
After a long standoff, an agreement was reached, and Purdue paid Joseph $1,450 - a paltry 3 cents per specimen - for the magnificent Arthur herbarium.
And here's a fun side note about Joseph Charles Arthur:
In addition to his work in botany, Joseph was a musician. In 1902, in happier times at the University, Joseph wrote the music for a school song called Vive Purdue.