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The Profit of the EarthThe Global Seeds of American Agriculture$
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Courtney Fullilove

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226454863

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226455051.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 26 July 2021

The Museum of Seeds

The Museum of Seeds

(p.23) 1: The Museum of Seeds
The Profit of the Earth

Courtney Fullilove

University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines the natural science collections of the museum in the US Patent Office building in mid-nineteenth century Washington, considering how seeds were variously construed as objects of global nature, diplomatic gift, and private property. The museum in the US Patent Office was a precursor organization to the US National Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, as well as the US National Herbarium and US Department of Agriculture. The collections of James Morrow, the agriculturalist of the US Japan Expedition directed by Commodore Matthew C. Perry provide a case study of scientific and market values in the making, in which the logic of Euro-American property forms determined the classification and institutional ownership of plants, tools, and bones.

Keywords:   museum, patent office, collecting, herbarium, botany, ethnology, Matthew C. Perry, James Morrow, Samuel Wells Williams

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