Post Script—George Edward Post and the Post Herbarium Lytton John Musselman Visiting Professor Biology Department American University of Beirut
To find George Post we must travel to Beirut and down Post Street. . . . .
. . . . and to the American University of Beirut (AUB)
Post Script—George Edward Post and the Post Herbarium • The life of George Post. • His association with the Syrian • Protestant College. • III. The botanical activities of Post.
Post Script—George Edward Post and the Post Herbarium • IV. The herbarium of George Post. • The Post-Post Post Herbarium.
Post Script—George Edward Post and the Post Herbarium VI. The Post Herbarium and its role in floristic and biodiversity surveys in Lebanon, Syria, and the region. VII. The future of the Post Herbarium.
Post Script—George Edward Post and the Post Herbarium • The life of George Post.
George Edward Post 1838-1909
Born in New York City, son of Harriet Beers and Alfred C. Post, a prominent surgeon.
Studied Latin at age of six. Graduated with honors from City College of New York in 1854 at age 16. M. S. degree in 1857.
M. D. degree conferred in 1860. Ordained a minister in 1861. D.D.S. awarded in 1863.
The Post family lived in New York state. Sent as a medical missionary to Syria in November 1863.
Settled in Tripoli,began medical practice and study of Arabic.
Remained in Tripoli from 1863 to 1868 including a return to the United States for health reasons. Health concerns led to giving up his missionary position in 1868. Modern day Tripoli from the harbor.
Post Script—George Edward Post and the Post Herbarium II. His association with the Syrian Protestant College (later AUB). Appointments. The “Lewis Affair.”
Post was appointed Professor of Surgery and Botany in 1869. He remained in this position, under various titles, until his death in 1909. George Post in the 1870’s.
Edwin Lewis George Post and the “Lewis Affair”. Edwin Lewis was Professor of Chemistry and Geology. The faculty of the Syrian Protestant College in the 1870’s. Unlike Post, Lewis was a popular teacher. He was chosen to give the commencement address in 1882.
In his speech, Lewis spoke of three great scientists of the age: Lyell, Pasteur, and Darwin. Darwin was “. . . an example of the transformation of knowledge into science by long and careful examination and accurate thinking.”
An uproar ensued. Lewis was censured by the mission society running the Syrian Protestant College. Students went on strike. Faculty resigned in support of Lewis. Most prominent among those resigning was Cornelius Van Allen Van Dyck who had worked closely with Post.
C. Van Dyck was Professor of Chemistry and Surgery (not to be confused with William Van Dyck, his son, also a professor of surgery.)
Cornelius Van Dyck was one of the greatest scholars in the Middle East and translated many books into Arabic, including the Bible. His translation remains one of the most widely used in the Arab world.
Van Dyck had more than a passing interest in botany and participated in an expedition to the source of the Jordan River in 1877. His familiarity with plants and work with Post led to a Bible translation more botanically accurate than many.
The resignation of the Van Dycks in support of Lewis threatened the future of the Syrian Protestant College. Post took a strong stand against Lewis’ supporters including his friend and colleague, C. Van Dyck. Student strikers support- ed Van Dyck against Post.
Student complaints against Post charged him with: “cruelty, avarice, . . .injurious to the peace of the college.” One of their demands was the demotion of Post to the rank of instructor.
Within a year the controversy subsided, new faculty were hired, the student strike was broken, and Post remained in his university position, firmly established in his anti-Darwinian and authoritarian stance. It is telling that in his acknowledgements in the flora, Post glaringly omits Van Dyck but thanks “. . . Professors Porter and Day. . . genial companions . . .of his journeys. . . who aided his studies. . .”
Papaver postii Fedde endemic to Cyprus III. The Botanical Activities of George Post 1857-1908
The Botanical Activities of George Post 1857-1908 Early years 1857-1868 Syrian Protestant College 1869-1909 Expeditions Exchange Correspondence
Early Years Little is known of Post’s formal training in botany. Physicians trained in the mid-1800’s were required to take Materia medica and other plant-oriented courses. Papaver postii Post began an herbarium as a teenager, perhaps in company with his father who also collected plants.
What is an herbarium? A museum of dried plants.
Examples of herbarium labels Label of Alfred C. Post? Early label of George Post
Soon after settling in Tripoli, Post collected plants. Between 1866 and 1869 he visited several areas in modern day Lebanon and Syria.
Expeditions Post participated in several expeditions for natural history and archeology.
He visited Sinai in 1883 and further south. Some specimens were collected at the pyramids.
Post had an interest in archeology. He led to an expedition to Palmyra (Tadmur) in 1890.
Cyprus 1898 Most of his collecting was in the mountains. Papaver postiii Fedde
On the trail of George Post. He named several plants after the Troodos region of Cyprus. Papaver postii Fedde
Among taxa he described from Cyprus are: Calamintha troodii, Cyperus cyprius, Dianthus multipunctatus Ser. var. troodi, Euphorbia troodii, Ferula cypria, Phlomis cypria, Saponaria cyprica, Scabiosa cyprica, Sideritis cypria, and Teucrium cypricum. Papaver postii Fedde
Post received many specimens from a Mrs. Shepard, a physician living in Aintab. He named several plants in her honor including Achillaea shepardi,Astragalus shephardi, Campanula shepardi,Centaurea shepardi,Erigeron shepardi, Knautia shepardi,Medicago shepardi, and Nepeta shepardi. Aintab
Post incorporated Shepard’s specimens under his own name. Labels from the type Specimen of Ferulago kurdica.
He also received specimens from Mardin and vicinity from an unknown source (Mrs. Shepard?) and named these new species: Nepeta mardinensis andVerbascum mardinense.
Post collected many plants from the Hauran Region southeast of Damascus and named new taxa. The Hauran region of Syria
These include Chaerophyllum auranitacum, Cynara auranitica, Dianthus auraniticus, and Ferulago auranitica.
Post visited western Turkey on several occasions to represent the medical college to Ottoman authorities and also perhaps to visit his son, Bartram Van Dyck Post, a Professor of Botany and Zoology at Robert College.
Bartram Van Dyck Post carried on the Post family tradition of botany. He published one of the first floras of the Bosphorus region.
Examples of Post’s labels from Turkey.
Correspondents-Exchange European correspondents included Balfour Blanche
Boissier (collected by Haussknecht) Gaillardot