1760 – 1818
Who was Olof Swartz?
Olof Peter Swartz was a Swedish botanist and taxonomist. He is best known for his taxonomic work and studies into pteridophytes. He attended the University of Uppsala where he studied under Carolus Linnaeus the Younger and received his doctorate in 1781.
He first traveled in 1780, to Lapland in the company of several other botanists. In 1783 he sailed for North America and the West Indies, primarily in the area of Jamaica and Hispaniola, to collect botanical specimens. His botanical collection, of an impressive 6000 specimens, is now held by the Swedish Museum of Natural History, as part of the Regnellian herbarium. By 1786 he left for London to prepare his collection. There he met Joseph Banks, who was impressed with his knowledge of Botany. He was offered a position with the British East India Company as a travelling physician, but turned it down, and returned to Sweden in 1787. Ten years later he proposed to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences the idea of a permanent travel grant, based on the methods he had seen employed by Banks within the British Empire. In 1791 he became Professor Bergianus at the Academy of Sciences at Stockholm.