Main Narrative » Women in Cryptogamic Botany

Sarah “Sadie” Frances Price

By Amanda M. Chandler, Greer Lowenstein

Mar 10 2022

Sarah “Sadie” Frances Price (1849-1903) was one of Kentucky’s most esteemed botanical researchers of the 19th century (Kinosian and Suissa 2020). Exploring largely uncharted territory within her home state when not teaching botany, she compiled an extensive herbarium of local flora having a readily apparent focus on native ferns. With 24 botanical manuscripts, 40 scientific papers, and thousands of botanical illustrations and watercolors published, she successfully engaged with enthusiasts of all skill levels (Creese and Creese 1998, Kinosian and Suissa 2020), making plant and fern identification more accessible to novice enthusiasts who otherwise might have been bereft of the resources necessary to explore their potential. One such way she enabled the understanding of pteridology is represented in her 1897 field guide, The Fern-Collector’s Handbook and Herbarium, where she provided detailed drawings of common ferns and instructions concerning the collection and preservation of specimens (Creese and Creese 1998, Kinosian and Suissa 2020). Though Sadie’s efforts mainly lied in encouraging others to participate in the appreciation of these charismatic cryptogams, she exuded interest for all organisms within the natural world. Having also published Mollusca of southern Kentucky, she was additionally one of few female conchologists of the United States during her lifetime and is also remembered by ornithologists for her watercolor paintings of Kentucky birds (Creese and Creese 1998).

A Closer Look

More about: Women in Science


Creese, M.R.S. and T.M. Creese. (1998). Ladies in the Laboratory? American and British Women in Science, 1800-1900: A Survey of Their Contributions to Research. Scarecrow Press.

Kinosian, S.P. and J.S. Suissa. 2020. Mothers of Pteridology. American Fern Journal 110(1): 3.