Buried in archives, Civil War diary inspires biography of pioneering botanist

May 26, 2022

A chance discovery on her first day at the University and Jepson Herbaria in 2005 changed Kelly Agnew’s life, leading her down a rabbit hole of Civil War battles and prison camps, gold rush settlements, the exploits and foibles of California’s earliest botanists, the founding of the Sierra Club and ultimately the establishment at UC Berkeley of the largest plant collection at any public university in the world.

An evolutionary biologist and lecturer in the Department of Integrative Biology, Agnew packs all of this into a 550-page biography she wrote with her father, Brad Agnew, a retired professor of American history at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

Berkeley News