The Albion R. Hodgdon Herbarium (NHA) of was founded in 1892 when the University of New Hampshire, then known as the New Hampshire College of Agricultural and the Mechanic Arts, moved from its Dartmouth College campus in Hanover to its present location in Durham with 1500 specimens. The collection expanded slowly until 1936 when Dr. Albion Reed Hodgdon became the director of the herbarium. An alumnus of UNH, Dr. Hodgdon contributed numerous specimens to the herbarium for his master’s thesis on the Flora of Strafford County, NH. He continued to contribute specimens throughout his career from field work in New England, Alaska, Canada, Mexico, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Galapagos Islands. He had a particular interest in the taxonomy of Rubus and the floristics and phytogeography of coastal Maine and eastern Canada. Dr. Hodgdon oversaw the integration of several “orphan” collections from other herbarium including the permanent loans of 9400 specimens of the Parker Cleaveland Herbarium of Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine and 15,447 specimens from the Portland Society of Natural History, Portland, Maine (now dissolved). Through these loans, NHA acquired 97 invaluable type specimens collected in the 1800’s and early 1900’s by Augustus Fendler, Ferdinand Lindheimer, and Merritt L. Fernald. By the time of Dr. Hodgdon’s death in 1976, the herbarium amassed approximately 82,000 vascular plant specimens and 36,000 specimens of marine algae. In 1978, NHA was officially dedicated in his honor, and its accompanying botanical library was dedicated to Sumner T. Pike, a patron and friend of the herbarium.
Between 1975 and 2009 Dr. Garrett E. Crow served as Director of NHA. His multi-faceted research program included systematic, biogeographic, and floristic studies of rare and endangered species in New Hampshire with a specialty in aquatic vascular plants. Among his many publications, Dr. Crow authored or co-authored New England's Rare, Threatened, and Endangered Plants, Aquatic and Wetland Plants of Northeastern North America, and the taxonomic treatments of several genera and families for the Flora of North America North of Mexico and Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica. He and his students are largely responsible for NHA’s extensive collections of vascular aquatic and neotropical specimens. In 1996 Dr. Crow oversaw the move of the collection from Nesmith Hall to the Spaulding Life Sciences Building and the installation of the space-saving compactor system that doubled the collection’s capacity.
From 1965 to 2017 Dr. Arthur Mathieson oversaw the expansion of the macroalgal collection at NHA, with a strong focus on the macroalgal diversity of coastal New Hampshire and Maine. He personally contributed nearly 46,000 specimens, with a substantial number of additional specimens contributed by his students. Dr. Mathieson served as the Director of the UNH Jackson Estuarine Lab from 1972 to 1982, and many of his collections document the macroalgae of the Great Bay. Among his more than 170 publications, Dr. Mathieson coauthored Seaweeds of the Northwest Atlantic and The Seaweeds of Florida. Currently, the NHA macroalgae collection is the 5th largest in the United States and has the best representation of macroalgal diversity from coastal New England.
Since 2009 Dr. Christopher D. Neefus has served as the director of NHA, serving as PI for several large digitization projects that have resulted in the imaging and databasing of nearly the entire collection. Stemming from his research interests in marine algae and computing, Dr. Neefus headed an NSF-funded consortium of 49 herbaria for the digitization of macroalgae collections that are published on the Macroalgal Herbarium Portal (macroalgae.org), allowing free access to images and data worldwide. Since its establishment, the Macroalgal Herbarium Portal has been used by over 64,000 users in 205 countries. Dr. Janet Sullivan, NHA Collections Manager (2005-2019), oversaw the digitization of the macroalgae collection and the vascular plant collection as part of the NSF-funded Consortium of Northeastern Herbaria (neherbaria.org). Dr. Sullivan’s central involvement in several additional NSF projects have led to the publication of NHA specimens on the data portals of the Consortium of North American Bryophyte Herbaria (bryophyteportal.org), the Pteridophyte Collections Consortium (pteridoportal.org), and the Consortium of North American Lichen Herbaria (lichenportal.org). During her tenure, Dr. Sullivan incorporated several important, smaller vascular plant collections including the Keene State College Herbarium, New England College Herbarium, and a portion of Bentley College’s historic teaching collection. By integrating collections by UNH researchers and students, as well as specimens from the NH Natural Heritage Bureau and volunteer groups, Dr. Neefus and Dr. Sullivan have grown NHA to its current size of approximately 120,000 vascular plant, 85,000 marine algae, and 1800 bryophytes and lichens specimens.
In 2021, Dr. Erin Sigel became the NHA Collections Manager, and in January 2024 NHA will move to a newly remodeled collection, processing, and outreach facility in the Spaulding Life Sciences Building.