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Josephine Tilden papers

Identifier: ua01252

Content Description

Administrative documents, correspondence, research files, field notebooks


  • 1901-1927

Language of Materials

Collection is in English.

Use of Materials

Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only.


Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law Title 17, U.S. Code. Requests to publish should be arranged with the University of Minnesota Archives.

Biographical Note

Josephine Elizabeth Tilden (1869-1957) was born on March 24, 1869 in Davenport, Iowa to Henry and Elizabeth Tilden. She attended Minneapolis High School and obtained a bachelors and masters degree from the University of Minnesota (B.S. 1895; M.S. 1897). Tilden held the following positions at the University: Scholar (1895-1897); Instructor of Cryptogamic Botany (1898-1903); Assistant Professor of Botany (1903-1910); Professor of Botany (1910-1937).

For the Department of Botany in the College of Science, Literature and the Arts, Tilden taught Elements of Algology, the introductory course in the study of algae. In addition to studying the freshwater algae native to Minnesota, coursework also incorporated the study of algae of the Pacific Ocean, which was the subject of Tilden’s research. Throughout her career, Tilden pursued this interest on research trips conducted during University holidays and on sabbatical leave. On each trip, Tilden widely collected specimens of Pacific algae which were added in abundance to the University Herbarium collection.

In 1898, while on a research trip to the state of Washington and Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Tilden secured a deed for a tract of land along the Strait of Juan de Fuca near Port Renfrew, British Columbia. In collaboration with Conway MacMillan, chair of the Department of Botany, Tilden built a biological research station at the site. For seven (7) summers, between the years of 1901-1907, Tilden, members of the department, and scholars from other institutions travelled to the Minnesota Seaside Station to conduct botanical, zoological, and geological research.

From September 1909 - July 1910, and again from July 1912 - September 1913, Tilden travelled to New Zealand, Australia, and the Society Islands to continue her Pacific research. In 1920, Tilden served as a delegate to the Pan-Pacific Scientific Congress in Honolulu; in Melbourne and Sydney (1923), and Tokyo (1926). In 1935, she led a group of 10 graduate students through the Red Sea to Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, and San Francisco. This expedition was an intensive algae collection project.

Tilden was a member of the Botanical Society of America, the American Society of Naturalists, the American Microscopical Society, the National Geographic Society, Sigma Zi, the Bull Torrey Botany Club, and the Florida Academy of Science. She was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Geographical Society.

Tilden retired from the University in 1937 and moved to Florida where she established a retirement community named Golden Bough. Tilden passed away in Florida on May 14, 1957 at the age of 88.


.40 Cubic Feet (2 hollinger boxes)


Contains correspondence, field notebooks, and research files.

Source of Acquisition

Materials were transferred from the University Herbarium in 2017.

Processing Information

Materials were processed by Rebecca Toov in December 2017.

Josephine Tilden papers
January 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The University Archives Collecting Area