Centre for World Environmental History

Joseph Hooker project

Collaborative Research Project for Digitisation of Joseph Dalton Hooker correspondence
Sussex, Kew, Kolkata Botanical Gardens Library and Herbarium


The project will focus on Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817–1911), in particular his correspondence with colleagues in India, including at the Kolkata botanical gardens. The transcription of the correspondence will complement several resources which are already in the public domain – including the Himalayan Journals (1854) and the Introduction to the Flora Indica (1855) and the sections of Hooker's herbarium which have been digitised. It will also run alongside the ongoing collaborations around the Wallich materials by Kew, the Natural History Museum, and the British Library. It will promote links between UK and Indian institutions and help prioritise fragile materials held in Kolkata for conservation and digitalisation. The Hooker transcription project will act as a pilot project for a larger academic project on the subject of colonial botanical gardens and the potential uses of manuscript and herbaria collections, including in studies of climate change, for which AHRC funding will be sought.  


  • To create an online transcription of the volume of 328 letters by December 2011    
  • To help in developing a display case for the Inspiring Kew exhibition to be held in December 2011
  • To conduct a survey of further materials relevant to Hooker and India in Kew and Kolkata and map the relations between the manuscripts
  • To assess the potential use of the manuscripts in wider studies, including those of historical data for studies of global warming.
  • To draft a funding application for a wider project on network of colonial botanical gardens

Poison arrows, BangladeshPoison arrows, Bangladesh

Further information

Photos from the Joseph Hooker Centenary Celebration

Joseph Hooker conference hands on session 1Lowell Woodcock discussing the Hooker project at the Kew meeting on 9th December 2011. The group includes Stephen Hopper, director of Kew Gardens


Joseph Hooker conference group photoChris Mills, Head of Library and Collections, Kew, Kiri Jones, archivist, Kew, Vinita Damodaran, Sussex, Lowell Woodcock, postdoctoral researcher, Sussex and Jim Endersby, Sussex