Harriet Lathrop Merrow

(September 1858- 21 November 1941)

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Herbarium (NCU) has cataloged one vascular plant specimen and about thirty micro-fungi specimens collected by Ms. Merrow . Most were collected in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she did graduate studies in 1891-1894.  Other collecting locations include Kingston, Rhode Island, where she taught, and Waverly, Massachusetts, where mentor and fellow mycologist Arthur Bliss Seymour lived.  As NCU’s fungal, lichen, and vascular plant collections continue to be cataloged it is likely that additional specimens collected by Ms. Merrow will be found.  NCU’s microfungi are being cataloged using funds provided by the Microfungi Collections Consortium of the National Science Foundation’s Advancing Digitization of Biodiversity Collections (ADBC) program.  All mycological specimens, both macrofungi and microfungi, can be found at mycoportal.org , and our vascular plant specimens can be found at sernecportal.org

Other herbaria curating Ms. Merrow’s specimens include Ada Hayden Herbarium at Iowa State University (ISC), Arthur Fungarium at Purdue University (PUR), Brown University Herbarium (BRU), Chrysler Herbarium at Rutgers University (CHRB), Cornell Plant Pathology Herbarium (CUP), Farlow Herbarium of Harvard University (FH), Field Museum of Natural History (F), Gilbertson Mycological Herbarium at the University of Arizona (ARIZ), Illinois Natural History Survey (ILLS), Intermountain Herbarium at Utah State University (UTC), Louisiana State University Bernard Lowy Mycological Herbarium (LSUM), New York Botanical Garden (NY), Oregon State University Herbarium (OSC), United States National Fungus Collections (BPI), University of California Herbarium (UC), University of British Columbia Herbarium (UBC), University of Florida Herbarium (FLAS), University of Illinois Herbarium (ILL), University of Michigan Herbarium (MICH), the University of Tennessee Fungal Herbarium (TENN), University of Wisconsin-Madison Herbarium (WIS), and Wilhelm G. Solheim Mycological Herbarium at University of Wyoming (RMS).

Harriet Lathrop Merrow was born to Joseph Battell Merrow (1819-1897) and Harriet (Millard) Merrow (1821-1921).  She was the youngest of four siblings:  Joseph Millard Merrow (1848-1947); George Woodbridge Merrow (1852-1943); and Mary Woodbridge Merrow (1860-1946).1  The 1870 United States census lists “Martha,” age 9, as being a member of the household, but she is not listed in other sources, so perhaps was a relative but not a sibling.2

Harriet L. Merrow (undated) image courtesy of Wellesley College Archives

Ms. Merrow graduated from Wellesley College in 1886 with a B.S., and earned an A. M. from that same institution in 1893.  She taught science at Plymouth (Massachusetts) High School 1887-1888, and at Harcourt Place in Gambier Ohio from 1888-1891.  “There flourished in Gambier [Ohio] for about five decades a boarding school for girls, a school called the Harcourt Place Seminary for Young Ladies and Girls.  The course of study for Harcourt Place Seminary was planned with the advice of Alice E. Freeman, the president of Wellesley College, and all of the initial faculty members had links with Wellesley.  So highly regarded was the seminary and its curriculum that for years graduates of Harcourt Place Seminary were admitted, without any further application or examination, to Smith, Vassar, Wellesley and Wells College.  There is even a sense in which Harcourt Place Seminary can be called the location of Gambier’s first college education for women, because the seminary’s faculty was supplemented by no fewer than four Kenyon [College] professors and because the seminary did offer a two year post-high-school course.  The school closed, a victim of the Great Depression, in 1936.”  [Kenyan College was an all-male college, and did not begin admitting women until the 1960’s.]


Harriet Merrow attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1891-1892 as a graduate student, and is listed as a “Graduate Assistant, Botanical Laboratory” in 1893-1894, but did not earn a degree.  Instead, she began teaching in 1895 at Rhode Island College of Agricultural & Mechanical Arts, which became the University of Rhode Island in 1951.

Professor Merrow is listed as the “Chief Blossom” of the Botanical Club, with 6 “Buds” (members) in the Rhode Island College of Agriculture & Mechanical Arts 1901 yearbook, The Grist.

Harriet L. Merrow (undated) image courtesy of Special Collections & Archives, University of Rhode Island

It is unclear when Ms. Merrow retired from teaching.  Harriet Lathrop Merrow died on 21 November 1941 in Hartford, Connecticut.4


Merrow, Harriet Lathrop (1893)  Observations on the teleuto-stage of Gymnosporangium clavariaeforme D.C.  M.A. Thesis, Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts.



1.  “Joseph Battell Merrow”  Ancestry.com accessed on 2 March 2016.

2.  United States Census 1870.

3.  Oden, Robert A., Jr. (1999)  Forgotten Moments in Kenyon History.  http://bulletin.kenyon.edu/x1335.html  accessed on 2 March 2016.

4.  “Harriet Lathrop Merrow”  Ancestry.com  accessed on 2 March 2016.

5.  The Grist, 1898.  Yearbook of Rhode Island College of Agricultural & Mechanical Arts, Kingston, Rhode Island.


Special thanks to University of Rhode Island Archives and to Laura Reiner, Research & Instruction Librarian,Wellesley College Archives

McCormick, Carol Ann. 2023.  The Collectors: Harriet Lathrop Merrow. North Carolina Botanical Garden, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Herbarium.
< https://ncbg.unc.edu/2023/12/03/harriet-lathrop-merrow/ >