Bailey, L. H. (Liberty Hyde), 1858-1954.

Alternative names
Birth 1858-03-15
Death 1954-12-25

Biographical notes:

Liberty Hyde Bailey was instrumental in separating Horticulture from Botany and establishing it as a distinct scientific pursuit. Born on a farm in Michigan in 1858, Liberty Hyde Bailey graduated from the Michigan Agricultural College with a degree in botany. After working with the renowned botanist Asa Gray at Harvard, he returned to Michigan to teach horticulture and landscape gardening. In 1888, he came to Cornell to build a new curriculum in practical and experimental horticulture. In 1904, the Legislature passed a bill establishing the New York State College of Agriculture at Cornell, and Liberty Hyde Bailey became its first dean. In that role, he established new departments to complement existing fields of study, and appointed Cornellas first women professors. In 1908, Theodore Roosevelt appointed him to chair a presidential Country Life Commission.Bailey retired from Cornell in 1913, but continued his scientific, practical, and philosophical pursuits, and made his home in Ithaca for the rest of his life. He wrote and edited numerous books, from textbooks to essays and poems. He traveled extensively on botanical collecting trips.During his lifetime, he received innumerable awards and honors. Liberty Hyde Bailey died in 1954 at the age of ninety-six.

From the description of Liberty Hyde Bailey papers, 1854-2004, 1870-1958 (bulk). (Cornell University Library). WorldCat record id: 64056406

Bailey (Michigan State Agricultural College, B.S. 1882; M.S. 1885) taught horticulture and landscape gardening at Michigan State 1884- 1888; taught horticulture at Cornell University 1888-1903; then served as Dean of New York State College of Agriculture at Cornell and Director of the Cornell Experiment Station until 1913.

From the description of Papers relating to genus Carex, 1884-1900 (inclusive). (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 40271886

Liberty Hyde Bailey (1858-1954) was born in South Haven, Michigan, and graduated from Michigan Agricultural College in 1882. He studied botany at Harvard University, and returned to M.A.C. in 1885 to chair the new Horticulture Department. In 1901, he edited COUNTRY LIFE IN AMERICA, an early broad-page magazine, and became known as the "father" of rural sociology and agricultural journalism. He chaired the presidential Commission.

on Country Life, which was in part responsible for the passage of the Smith Lever Act in 1914, establishing the Cooperative Extension Service and 4-H Youth Programs. Bailey authored numerous books and papers, primarily on agriculture. A Michigan State University dormitory in the Brody Complex was named in his honor.

From the description of Liberty Hyde Bailey Papers, 1888. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122389492

Liberty Hyde Bailey was born on a fruit farm in South Haven, Michigan, on March 15, 1858. After receiving his early education in a small country school, he went to the Michigan State Agricultural College, entering in 1877. He earned his B.S. in 1882, having had to take a year off for illness (1880-1881). After graduation, he tried working as a newspaper reporter for a short while, then spent two years (1883-1884) assisting Asa Gray. He returned to Michigan State College as a professor of horticulture and landscape gardening in 1884 and stayed until 1888. In 1885 he was granted a master's degree by Michigan. Cornell offered him the post of professor of horticulture in 1888; Bailey accepted with the condition that Cornell sponsor a trip to European herbaria by him. Bailey served as horticulture professor at Cornell until 1903, when he became dean of the New York State College of Agriculture at Cornell and director of the Cornell Experiment Station. He retired as dean and director in 1813, but he continued to lead a very active life after official retirement. When he died, on December 25, 1954, at Ithaca, N.Y., he was described as the last living link to the Asa Gray era of American botany.

Bailey's earliest botanical specialty was the genus Carex, a choice in which he was encouraged by Asa gray. Bailey published a series of Carex papers between 1883 and 1900 and was a major expert in the field during that period. Bailey followed his Carex work with a tremendous output of publications on horticulture and botany. His horticultural publications included a series of horticultural monographs and the various editions of his Cyclopedia of Horticulture. His botanical publications included a number of books directed toward explaining botany to lay people, as well as taxonomic studies of palms, Brassica, Vitis, Cucurbita and Rubus.

Other endeavors in which he was involved included promoting nature study in schools; establishing a journal Gentes Herbarium; and founding the Bailey Hortorium, based on a gift of his herbarium and library to Cornell in 1935. Bailey married Annette Smith on June 6, 1883, and they had two daughters, Sara and Ethel Zoe. Mrs. Bailey died in 1938, two years after Sara died.

References: American Men of Science, ed. 5 Humphrey, Harry Baker. "Makers of North American Botany." Chronica Botanica 21: 10-15. Lawrence, George H. "Liberty Hyde Bailey, the Botanist." Bull. Torrey Club 82 (1955): 300-305. Lawrence, George H. M. "Liberty Hyde Bailey, 1858-1954." Baileya 3 (1955): 26-40. Rodgers, Andrew Denny, III. Liberty Hyde Bailey: A Story of American Plant Sciences. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1949.

From the guide to the Papers relating to genus Carex, 1884-1900, (Gray Herbarium Library)


Loading Relationships


Ark ID:


  • Botany--Study and teaching
  • Fruit
  • Poetry
  • Vegetables
  • Agriculture--Study and teaching
  • Education, Rural
  • Horticulture


not available for this record


  • Michigan (as recorded)