A Michigan Born Visionary
Liberty Hyde Bailey was an American polymath. His work during the 20th century impacted so many areas of study that it is difficult to assign Bailey a singular historical role. A naturalist at heart, Bailey's childhood passion for learning about the living world around him, brought him acclaim for his visionary work in botany, education, environmentalism and horticulture. Bailey divided his life into three segments—Learning, Labor, and Leisure.
"It is not possible, in my opinion, to express adequately our appreciation for what Professor Bailey has done. We realize that out of a confused state of botany, he has brought order[...]" - Benjamin M. Duggar at Cornell's celebration of Bailey's 90th birthday.
LEARNING - Formative Years
1877-1882: Liberty Hyde Bailey studies at Michigan Agricultural College, (now known as Michigan State University) under Professor William James Beal.
LABOR - Michigan Agricultural College Years
1885: Bailey returns to Michigan Ag. as Professor and Chair of Horticulture and Landscape Gardening, establishing the first horticulture department in the United States. Publishes paper, The Garden Fence, stressing the need to bridge the disciplines of botany and horticulture. Publishes his first book, Talks Afield: About Plants and the Science of Plants.
June 29th, 1887: Sara May, Bailey's daughter born.
1888: Bailey designs and builds the first laboratory in the United States devoted to scientific horticulture, now known at Eustace-Cole Hall.
1888: Appointed Professor of General and Experimental Horticulture at Cornell.
1889: Second daughter Ethel Zoe Bailey born on November 17, 1889.
1893: Founding member of the Botanical Society of America.
1894: New York State grants the first public funds to Cornell to use in the teaching of nature-study in New York rural schools. Bailey uses the funds for the publication of the Rural School Leaflets.
1900-1902: Bailey is editor and main contributor to the Cyclopedia of American Horticulture.
1903: Bailey becomes founder and first president of the American Society for Horticultural Science. Publishes The Nature-Study Idea, a collection of essays on education.
1904: Lobbies for, and succeeds in getting, a bill for the establishment of a State College of Agriculture at Cornell University passed in the New York State Legislature, and becomes Dean.
1906: Bailey becomes president of the Association of American Agricultural Colleges and Experiment Stations.
1908: President Theodore Roosevelt appoints Bailey as chair of the Commission on Country Life.
1908: Bailey founds and becomes the first president of the American Nature Study Society.
1910: Bailey writes the Report of the Commission on Country Life.
1912: Death of Liberty Hyde Bailey Sr.
1913: Bailey retires and continues writing, exploring, and traveling the world to collect plants.
1914: Bailey writes The Holy Earth. Though the book is not a financial success, Bailey nevertheless feels it will endure. The Smith-Lever Act passes as result of the Commission on Country Life’s work establishing a system of cooperative extension services, 4-H Youth Programs, initiation of the U.S. Parcel Post system, and the beginnings of support for rural electrification and rural communication systems.
1921: Serves as president of the American Pomological Society.
1925: Bailey is named president of the International Botanical Congress.
1926: Bailey becomes president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Botanical Society of America.
1930: Publishes Hortus, a guide to cultivated plants in North America.
1935: Bailey gives his herbarium and its library to Cornell University: "Call it an Hortorium... A repository for things of the garden — a place for the scientific study of garden plants, their documentation, their classification, and their naming." The Hortorium becomes the major U. S. center for the systematics of cultivated plants.
September, 1938: Bailey's birth home in South Haven, Michigan is gifted to the city as a memorial to Bailey.
1946-1947: Bailey collects plants in the Caribbean and South America.
1948: Cornell University celebrates Bailey’s 90th birthday.
December 25th, 1954: Liberty Hyde Bailey dies at his home in Ithaca, New York, at 96.
1958: The first Liberty Hyde Bailey Medal is awarded by The American Horticultural Society.
March 15, 1958: The Postmaster General authorizes a commemorative first class postage stamp honoring Gardening and Horticulture in recognition of the Centennial of Bailey’s birth.
1997: The Liberty Hyde Bailey Scholars Program is formed at Michigan State University. The program incorporates L.H. Bailey's love of learning and expressive learning styles to provide a space for students to become educated in fields that interest them.
2008: The 150th anniversary of Bailey's birth is celebrated with the republication of his classic, The Holy Earth, through MSU Press and the Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum.