Brown Logo

Office of University Communications
38 Brown Street / Box 1920
Providence RI 02912

401 863-2453
Fax 863-1650
News_Service@brown.edu

Contact Mark Nickel


Brunoniana

From Martha Mitchell’s Encyclopedia Brunoniana:

Collins, James Franklin

James Franklin Collins (1863-1940), professor of botany, was born in North Anson, Maine, on December 29, 1863. He moved to Providence at the age of ten. He developed an interest in plants, collecting and identifying them through the use of a textbook. In the course of trips to the woods in search of plants he became acquainted with Professor William Whitman Bailey. He went to work at an early age for the Gorham Manufacturing Company, where he was employed from 1879 to 1898. He never attended college, but in 1894 he was placed in charge of the Olney Herbarium at Brown on the recommendation of Bailey. In 1896 he was awarded an honorary bachelor of philosophy degree, and in 1899 he was appointed instructor in botany. In 1905 he was named assistant professor of botany and the next year became acting head of the department after Bailey’s retirement. After four summers spent investigating the chestnut blight for the U.S. Department of Agriculture he resigned his professorship in 1911 to become forest pathologist in the Providence bureau of the Department’s Office of Forest Pathologist, which had its headquarters in University Hall. Later he continued his work for that office in Maxcy Hall. He continued as a demonstrator and lecturer in the botany department and as curator of the herbarium for some years. He became known as the “father of tree surgery.” A pamphlet which he wrote in 1907 advocating flexible wood or sawdust rather than concrete fillings for injured trees sold 200,000 copies and won him the wrath of commercial tree surgery companies. He had begun contributing to the Botanical Gazette in 1886 and wrote 122 books and articles on botanical subjects. A Canadian mountain was named Mount Collins in his honor. He had survived two dangerous episodes in the Gaspe area, once being shot at when he and another botanist were mistaken for escaped prisoners and on another occasion being attacked by large sea birds. Collins retired from his government position in 1934 at the age of seventy. He died in Cranston, Rhode Island, on November 14, 1940.

The above entry appears in Encyclopedia Brunoniana by Martha Mitchell, copyright 1993 by the Brown University Library. It is used here by permission of the author and the University and may not be copied or further distributed without permission.


Return to Encyclopedia Index  |  University Home Page