Main Narrative » Women in Cryptogamic Botany

Gertrude Simmons Burlingham

By Amanda M. Chandler, Greer Lowenstein

Mar 10 2022

Gertrude Simmons Burlingham (1872-1952) was an American mycologist who specialized in the genera Russula and Lactarius, which are notoriously among the most diverse taxa in the fungal kingdom. Spending most of her professional career in both her native state of New York and near the house she built herself in Vermont, Burlingham taught high school biology in Binghamton and Brooklyn when she wasn’t out collecting along the United States Atlantic and Pacific coasts, as well as in Sweden (Rogerson and Samuels 1996, Seaver 1953). Carrying out this self-funded mycological career, she is credited with making significant contributions to the study of fungi extending well beyond her favored genera, on which she published more than 20 resources (Seaver 1953). Much of her early work following her doctoral graduation from Columbia University was conducted at the New York Botanical Garden, where she willed her extensive collection of more than 10,000 specimens after her death. Funds from her estate were also allotted to NYBG for the initiation of a mycological fellowship program that would go on to be a starting point for many well-known mycologists (Rogerson and Samuels 1996, Seaver 1953).

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Rogerson, C.T. and G.J. Samuels. 1996. Mycology at The New York Botanical Garden, 1895-1995. Brittonia 48(3): 389 – 398.
Seaver F.J. 1953. Gertrude Simmons Burlingham 1872–1952. Mycologia 45(1): 136 – 138.