Albion R. Hodgdon (1909-1976)
Botanist and Teacher
Albion Hodgdon was born on 1 November 1909 in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. He spent much of his boyhood in southeastern New Hampshire, where his family maintained a home in Dover. In his early teens he developed a strong interest in the native flora, which led him to enroll in the botany curriculum at the University of New Hampshire. In 1930 he received a B.S. in botany, and then stayed on at UNH as an Assistant in Botany from 1930-1932 while working toward his Master’s degree. In 1932 he enrolled in the Ph.D. program at Harvard University under the direction of Professor Merritt Lyndon Fernald. In 1936 he received his Ph.D. in plant taxonomy, submitting a dissertation on the taxonomy of the genus Lechea.
In 1936 Albion Hodgdon returned to the University of New Hampshire as an Instructor in Botany, and was later promoted to Associate Professor. Over the ensuing years he served as Head of the Botany section of the Biology Department, Director of the Agricultural Research Station, and finally Chairman of an independent Botany Department, a capacity in which he served for 20 years. In 1967 he retired as Chairman in order to devote more time to teaching, research, and professional activities.
Throughout his career, Albion’s research activities centered largely on the flora of New Hampshire, Maine, and eastern Canada. He maintained a special interest in the taxonomy of the genus Rubus. He was an authority on the flora of New England and published many papers in the journal Rhodora; his main associates in publication and research were Radcliffe B. Pike and Frederic L. Steele. In the 1960s, in collaboration with Rad Pike, he devoted considerable attention to the floristics and phytogeography of the coastal islands of Maine and New Brunswick, especially Grand Manan and the Wolf Islands in the Bay of Fundy. Albion’s broad taxonomic and ecological interests led him to travel widely, and specimens in the UNH herbarium reflect that.
One of “Doc” Hodgdon’s major achievements was the development of the University of New Hampshire Herbarium, expanding considerably from the original 1500 specimens moved to Durham from Hanover in 1892. As a student, he had contributed numerous specimens as part of his thesis work on the flora of Strafford County, NH. As faculty, he served as curator and director of the herbarium until his injuries from an automobile accident forced him to retire in 1974. He maintained an active specimen exchange program, as well as accepting the contributions of the historically important Parker Cleaveland Herbarium from Bowdoin College and the herbarium of the Portland Society of Natural History (Maine). However, the herbarium’s extensive collection of specimens from northern New England and the Maritime Provinces primarily reflect the floristic, systematic, and phytogeographic research activities of Doc Hodgdon and his students. When he retired, the UNH Herbarium housed over 118,000 specimens, including ca. 82,000 vascular plants, 36,000 marine algae, and a small number of bryophytes, lichens, and fungi.
Over the years, Albion Hodgdon was an active participant in many scientific and professional organizations including the New England Botanical Club, the New Hampshire Academy of Sciences, the Nature Conservancy, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, and the American Botanical Society, to name but a few. From 1962 until 1974 he served as Editor-in-Chief of Rhodora, the journal of the New England Botanical Club. At the time of his retirement he was also President of the NEBC.