SG575: The Victorian Fern Craze with Rare Book Specialist Stacy Stoldt

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Stacy Stoldt of the Chicago Botanic Garden is a rare book specialist and a true gem of information in the world of horticulture. As luck would have it, we had a fascinating chat back in November of last year.  Stacy gave me a glimpse into her work as a librarian at the Botanic Garden and we also discussed one of the exhibitions she curated about the Victorian Fern Craze.

If you are convinced that the world would be a better place with just a few more ferns - you’ll love hearing Stacy chat with me about one of evolution's stalwart survivors: ferns.

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“Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”
― Robert Louis Stevenson.

The Victorian Fern Craze with Rare Book Specialist Stacy Stoldt

Interview Questions

Garden news roundup.

Time Stamp 20:05

Stacy, why don’t we start by having you tell us about what you do for the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Time Stamp 50:15

How did you end up as a rare book specialist?

Time Stamp 52:15

When you’re starting a new exhibition, do you need to spend some time getting to know the vision before you can move forward? 

Time Stamp: 56:55

How do you procure rare books?

Time Stamp: 1:02:15

Is there a movement of some kind that’s working towards digitizing these rare books?

Time Stamp: 1:10:15

Are people overly protective over their collection because they found it hard to procure or is it more of a question of lack of funding to get these rare books? 

Time Stamp: 1:15:25

There is no copyright issue here on these rare books. At what point does it become public property or open to the public?

Time Stamp: 1:18:45

How does Stacy help other people digitalize the rare materials? Does she show people fascinating finds or do they pick and choose what interests them the most?

Time Stamp 1:19:30

A quick intermission from me setting the scene for the core of the interview -- the discussion on the Victorian Fern Craze.

Time Stamp 1:26:25

Stacy, tell us about the Victorian Fern Craze

Time Stamp 1:31:50

When you’re giving the lecture, are you personally presenting it or is there someone else who comes in to discuss it?

Time Stamp 1:35:45

This fern fever had a somewhat scientific name that was made up by Charles Kingsley. He called it, “Pteridomania”.

Time Stamp 1:40:30

Who was the first person to really start this fern craze?

Time Stamp 1:46:45

Can you highlight some of the books that are in your collection that talked about this craze?

Time Stamp 1:47:40

Do you have anything else from your lecture or your notes that you’d like to highlight for the audience?

Time Stamp 1:56:55

What exhibits are next for Stacy and the Chicago Botanic Garden?

Time Stamp 1:57:10



“But wait! There’s more!” | My Chicago Botanic Garden

Lenhardt Library Staff | Chicago Botanic Garden


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Jennifer Ebeling
Jennifer Ebeling is a proud Minnesotan and U of MN alumni. Gooooooo Gophers! Each week, Jennifer produces and hosts Still Growing - a gardening podcast dedicated to helping you and your garden grow. The show is an in-depth interview format. Guests featured on the show share a passion for gardening and include authors, bloggers, professional gardeners, etc. Listeners and guests of the show can join the Still Growing community on Facebook. It's a place to ask questions, share garden stories, interact with great guests featured on the show, and continue to grow and learn. Jennifer and her husband Philip have four children, a big golden lab named Sonny, and live in lovely Maple Grove, Minnesota. P.S. When she's not teaching her four kids a new card game - or teaching them how to drive a car - Jennifer loves inspiring individuals and groups to maximize and personalize their home & garden.
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