Bailey, Irving W.

Bailey, Irving W. (Widmer)

(1884–1967) botanist; born in Tilton, N.H. (son of astronomer and archeaologist Solon Bailey). He taught and performed research at Harvard (1903–55), beginning his career in forestry in 1909. In 1920 he traveled to British Guiana to study "ant plants," tropical trees whose cavities are home to certain species of ants. This experience in the rain forest engendered his research on tree anatomy and physiology relative to training forest managers in understanding and conserving their resources. During his most productive years (1920s–1930s), he traveled throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe to become a recognized authority on forest climatology and ecology; his laboratory research at the Carnegie Laboratory at Stanford University (summers, 1930–40) produced major contributions to studies of the microscopy of the cambium, the layer of cells responsible for the secondary growth in woody plants. His suggestions in the "Bailey Report" (1945) for the reorganization of Harvard's botanical museum were instituted in 1935–54 and established his reputation in administration as well as research. After retirement in 1955, he investigated the evolution of flowering plants, especially the cacti and the buttercup/magnolia family.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.