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Herman Kurz Papers

 Collection — Box: 1817
Identifier: MSS 2007-010

Scope and Contents

The Herman Kurz Collection contains photocopies of several news clippings from Kurz's scrapbooks and an original and photocopy of the autobiographical sketch he delivered at the Tallahassee Kiwanis Club. These materials are significant in documenting the work of one of the foremost authorities on Florida plant life.


  • Created: 1932-1957

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to all researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

To request permission to quote, publish, broadcast or otherwise reproduce from the archives, please contact Heritage & University Archives, Florida State University Libraries, Tallahassee, Florida. Researchers must obtain separate permission from the copyright holders of material held within University Archives collections for which the institution does not hold copyright.

Biographical or Historical Information

Dr. Herman Kurz was a professor of botany at Florida State College for Women. Born in Iowa in 1886, he was adopted when he was ten years old. During his teenage years, he was at various times a bell boy, a clerk, and a waiter. He was selling newspapers when President William McKinley was assassinated. By the time he was 20, he became successively a night clerk, a ditch-digger, a "chicken picker," a canning factory employee, a waiter in a hot dog stand, and finally an apprenticed barber. He traveled from town to town as a barber, and at 26 he went to Chicago and operated a barber shop. In his speech to the Kiwanis Club delivered in 1932, Kurz noted that his work in barber shops had brought him into contact with educated men and he had "dreamed of an education."

At age 25, Kurz became interested in music and tried first the piano and then the violin, but then switched to pre-medical study at a Chicago Y.M.C.A. He later switched his interest to chemistry and finally changed to botany during his senior year in college.

Kurz entered the University of Chicago in 1916 as a freshman at age 30 and received a BS degree in Botany. He also completed his M.S. and Ph.D. degree at that institution in 1921 and 1922, respectively. In 1922, he came to the Florida State College for Women as Assistant Professor in Botany. He taught at that institution as Associate Professor and Professor. From 1940-1947, he was head of the FSU's Department of Botany and Bacteriology, and was head of its Department of Botany from 1947-1951. He retired in 1956, and died in Chamblee, GA., in December 1965.

Kurz was widely known among scientists for his field work in plant life of the sand dunes and marshes of Florida, and also Florida trees. Among his publications were the Trees of Florida, which he jointly wrote with Robert K. Godfrey (University of Florida Press, 1962), and Tidal Marshes of the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts of northern Florida and Charleston, South Carolina (Florida State University, 1957). The latter was a study of marsh plants along the Gulf Coast which related the presence of various species to certain sea levels so that encroachment of the sea could be measured by the decayed deposits from various species.


2.00 folders

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Materials were given to Robin Sellers by Herman Kurz's daughter, Rose Kurz. The photocopied newsclippings were part of Herman Kurz's scrapbook.

Method of Acquisition

Given by Robin Sellers in June 2007.

Existence and Location of Originals

Portions of collection available online?: No

Related Materials

HP 2007-087 Herman Kurz Collection

Processing Information

Processed by Burt Altman in November 2008.

Herman Kurz Papers
Burt Altman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the FSU Special Collections & Archives Repository

116 Honors Way
PO Box 3062047
Tallahassee FL 32306-2047 US