Margery Carlson

When their baby girl was born, John and Nellie Carlson named her after a flower—a Marguerite daisy, to be specific. Did they somehow know that their daughter, Margery Carlson (1892-1985), was destined to become a world-renowned botanist? Once the young Carlson left her Arthur, Illinois to begin her studies at Northwestern, botany became her life.

After earning a Ph.D., Carlson was the first woman appointed as a full professor at Northwestern University. During her tenure, she made multiple expeditions to the jungles and mountains of Mexico and Central America. Traveling by airplane, ox, or her yellow expedition truck, she collected thousands of little known plants along with plant fossils for the Field Museum of Natural History.

While it is a botanist’s dream to discover one new plant species, Carlson discovered FIFTEEN! Closer to home, Carlson was Carlson was a founder of the Illinois Chapter of the Nature Conservancy.

Why this stop? Foster is one of the stops for Northwestern University.

Explore the Field Museum’s archives of plants collected by Margery Carlson.

Connect—Take a walk on Evanston’s Grosse Point Lighthouse Wildflower Trail which was restored under the leadership of Dr. Carlson.