Violetta Delafield - Botanist & Mycologist

Violetta Delafield

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Botanist & Mycologist

Even those women who found employment in botany as instructors or government scientists (the United States Department of Agriculture employed female mycologists as early as the 1880s) often had to choose between a career and marriage, as married women were typically excluded from employment in many fields.

Following her marriage to John Ross Delafield in 1904, Violetta left behind her semi-professional persona as a scientist. She stopped publishing scholarly works, and her knowledge and love of plants was expressed instead in forms that were more conventional for women.

Yet she never ceased to be fascinated by fungi. Throughout her married life, Violetta took the time—especially during summer holidays in the country—to study and record local mushrooms. Hundreds of her annotated watercolors are in Historic Hudson Valley's archives.

Botanical drawing of Agaricus placomyces, by Violetta Delafield. Watercolor on paper, September 21, 1925. Bard College, Montgomery Place Collection.

Botanical drawing of Agaricus abruptus, by Violetta Delafield. Watercolor on paper, August 27, 1900. Bard College, Montgomery Place Collection.

Botanical drawing of Panaeolus, by Violetta Delafield. Watercolor and spore print on paper, June 19, 1900. Bard College, Montgomery Place Collection.