Skip to main content

Colden, Jane (1724-1766)

Jane Colden (1724-1766)

Scientist

Sources

Fathers Footsteps. Jane Coldens interest in botany derived from her father, Cadwallader Colden. The Scotsman Colden immigrated to New York in 1710. A trained physician, his universal interests led him to study, experiment, and write on ethnography, physics, medicine, and government. Colden generally had a haughty, limited view toward women and science. He felt that most women were incapable of true scientific study. Ironically, however, he trained his daughter Jane in the systematic study of botany. He believed women could become adept students of plant life because of their innate ability to recognize beautiful things. Women were also naturally sympathetic and nurturing; hence they were able to contribute to the study and practice of medicine, which at this time continued to be heavily influenced by botanical research. Colden apparently saw scientific study as a worthwhile amusement to keep his daughters mind occupied and productive.

Accomplishments. Jane Coldens abilities to observe, research, catalogue, and understand botany surprised her father and surpassed his narrow expectations. She was the first scientist to describe the gardenia. Although she had to read the works of Carolus Linnaeus in translation, she mastered the Linnaean system of plant classification perfectly. She catalogued, described, and sketched at least four hundred plants. She was activeas were so many other American and European botanistsin exchanging seeds and specimens of New World flora. Jane Colden was Americas first great woman scientist.

International Reputation. Jane Colden married Dr. William Farquhar in 1759, and until her death in 1766 she was involved in housekeeping and child-rearing. But her reputation as a great botanist had been established years before in the mid 1750s. Peter Collinson wrote Linnaeus that Jane Colden is perhaps the first lady that has so perfectly studied your system. She deserves to be celebrated. The South Carolina scientist Dr. Alexander Garden wrote that Jane Colden is greatly master of the Linnaean method, and cultivates it with assiduity. Her work on plant classification was eventually published in a Scottish scientific journal in 1770.

Sources

Marilyn Bailey Ogilvie, Women in Science: Antiquity Through the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1986);

Joan Hoff Wilson, Dancing Dogs of the Colonial Period: Women Scientists, Early American Literature, 7 (1973): 225235.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Colden, Jane (1724-1766)." American Eras. . Encyclopedia.com. 14 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Colden, Jane (1724-1766)." American Eras. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 14, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/colden-jane-1724-1766

"Colden, Jane (1724-1766)." American Eras. . Retrieved November 14, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/colden-jane-1724-1766

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.