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Department of History and Philosophy of Science


Digitising Philippine Flora is an interdisciplinary collaborative project between the Cambridge University Herbarium and the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, with team members Juliet Anderson, Mika Hyman, Daniel Margocsy, Lauren Gardiner.

The project focuses on plants collected by Hugh Cuming (1791–1865), a nineteenth-century British collector and naturalist who operated in the Philippines during the 1830s. The project aims to use Cuming's Philippine specimens to trace the story of Cuming's voyage to the Philippines while situating the collection within the broader history of Philippine natural history. We started out with just a couple of boxes of unidentified plants found on a shelf in the back of the Herbarium and have since found over 3500 specimens within the Herbarium.

In addition to locating specimens collected by Cuming in the Herbarium's backlog and world collection, we are digitising the sheets, enabling us to work with citizen scientists and Philippine botanists to identify plants, transcribe descriptions, and better understand the rich Philippine flora represented in the collection.

With a focus on collaboration and community participation, the project has used the newly digitised Cuming collection as an opportunity to establish a workshop and seminar with botanists, historians, anthropologists on Philippine flora, building ties between Cambridge and other global institutions.

Digitising Philippine Flora is supported by a grant from Collections, Connections, Communities.