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Records of the Institute of Economic Botany (RG 18)
9 linear feet (7 boxes)


The New York Botanical Garden Institute of Economic Botany (IEB) was founded in 1981 in order to focus a portion of the Garden's research on applied botany. Economic botany and its related discipline ethnobotany are concerned with the study of the relationship between plants and people. In addition to carrying out basic and applied research on useful and harmful plants, the IEB takes an active role in conservation activities and the preservation of biological diversity; helps to develop and strengthen economic botany programs at institutions in various tropical countries; and disseminates results to scientists and policy makers through its publications, workshops, and lectures.

The IEB was founded by Ian Prance and directed by him until his departure from The New York Botanical Garden in 1988. Michael Balick was appointed as Prance's successor in 1988.


This collection consists of correspondence, manuscripts, research notes, photographs, and illustrations. It also contains documents relating to the founding of IEB and its ongoing activities.


Series 1: IEB Office Records
Series 2: PREBELAC (Program for Economic Botany in Latin America and the Caribbean)
Series 3: Publications
Series 4: Desert Exhibition

Series 1     IEB Office Records
                  3.05 linear feet. Arranged alphabetically.

Subjects in this series include research projects, lectures, conferences, symposia, contracts, grant proposals, planning reports, organizational charts, and promotional materials. The records of research associates and graduate students include such topics as Woodland Indians' ethnobotany (Schmidt), Andean tubers (King), Guaja Indian ethnobotany (Balee), urban trees (Karnosky), Ecuadorean forestry (Kernan & Neill) and Babassu palms (Coradin & May). Also included are 2 IEB studies on the flora and useful plants of Ecuador.

Series 2     PREBELAC (Program for Economic Botany in Latin America and the Caribbean)
                  4.2 linear feet. Arranged alphabetically in three series.

PREBELAC  was a small grants program to support research and education projects in economic botany in the Neotropics. Funds were provided by the Rockefeller Foundation and maximum grant awards were $10,000. The program ran from 1991 to 1996. The records are divided into three series: projects funded, those not funded, and general office records pertaining to PREBELAC administration.

Series 3     Publications
                  6 linear inches. Arranged by publication title.

These files contain correspondence pertaining to three IEB publications: Medicinal Resources of the Tropical Forest, Rainforest Remedies, and Plants, People and Culture. Included are unused manuscripts, manuscript revisions, illustrations, editorial correspondence, and reviews.

Series 4     Desert Exhibition
                  7 linear inches. Arranged alphabetically.

This series pertains to a planned exhibit in the New York Botanical Garden Conservatory tunnel area. It was to be held in 1989-90 but was canceled. Entitled DESERT PLANTS DESERT PEOPLE, it is concerned with the ethnobotany of the native peoples of the southwestern United States. Contained herein are research and photographs, label text and research notes.


The New York Botanical Garden

RG4    Ghillean T. Prance Records

Processed June 2000 by Stephen Sinon under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) PA-23141-98 and a grant from the Harriet Ford Dickenson Foundation. Revised December 2000.

For more information and a complete description contact:
Susan Fraser, NYBG Archivist
The LuEsther T. Mertz Library
The New York Botanical Garden
Bronx, NY 10458-5126
(718) 817-8879

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