The University of North Carolina Herbarium has
catalogued to date about 20 vascular specimens collected by Mary Gwendolyn
Burton Caldwell, who signed all her specimens as “Gwen Burton.” Ms. Burton collected around Chapel Hill,
Orange County, North Carolina in 1939, and at the Highland Biological Station
in Macon County, North Carolina in 1940.
As NCU's collection continues to be catalogued, it is possible that
more specimens will be found.
Ms. Burton also collected fungi, and to date
about 20 specimens have been found in NCU’s mycological collection. Most were collected in 1940 from the region
around Highlands, North Carolina. NCU’s
mycological collection can be searched at mycoportal.org
Mary Gwendolyn Burton
photo from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution 1
Mary Gwendolyn Burton was born on 22 May,
1917 in Monetta, Saluda County, South
Carolina. Her father, DeWitt Talmadge Burton, was a graduate of Orangeburg Academy,
while her mother, Fawny Vester
Howell, was a graduate of Leesville College.2 “Gwen” graduated from Ridge Spring High
School in 1934, then earned an A.B. from Lander College in Greenwood, South
Carolina in 1938.3
Ms. Burton arrived in Chapel Hill as a
graduate student in the Botany Department in 1938. “[She] thought the world of some of the UNC
professors who mentored her in the typically male-dominated field… They would
hike through the mountains and study the different plants and mushrooms and
fungi. I think for her it was an
idyllic period when she was in school back in the ‘30’s,” said her son.1 Gwendolyn
Burton studied mycology with Dr. William Chambers Coker and Dr. John Nathaniel Couch, and graduated with a Masters in 1940; the title of
her thesis was “Oogenesis and fertilization in Pythiopsis intermedia.”
Ms. Burton became a Research Associate in
the Department of Plant Pathology Athens at the University of Georgia in
1940. A frequent collaborator and
co-author at UGA was Julian Howell Miller (1890-1961).
In Athens, Ms. Burton met Harmon W.
Caldwell, Ph.D., President of the University of
Georgia. They were married
in December 1944, and he continued to serve as UGA’s president until
1948. The Carolina Alumni Review
noted, “Mrs. Harmon W. Caldwell (MA ’40) may have conflicting loyalties next
September 27 when Carolina and Georgia play football in Chapel Hill… Dr.
Caldwell became President of Georgia in 1935, becoming at 36 years of age one
of the youngest university presidents in the country.”4 The Caldwells
moved to Atlanta, Georgia and Harmon Caldwell served as the chancellor of the
Georgia University System from 1949 until 1964. He died in 1977.1 Together they had two children, Harmon W.
Caldwell, Jr. and Edea M. Caldwell.
“She never let her subscriptions to
scientific journals lapse…she filled her garden with unusual plants.”1
Gwendolyn Burton Caldwell died of heart
failure at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta on 18 June, 2005. She is buried in the Caldwell-Burton Family
Cemetery in Mount Carmel, Meriwether County, Georgia.5
The University of Georgia offers the
Caldwell Plant Pathology Graduate Scholarship in honor of Gwendolyn Burton
Miller, J.H. and Gwendolyn Burton (1942) Georgia Pyrenomycetes, III. Mycologia 34(1):
Miller, Julian H. and M. Gwendolyn Burton (1943) Studies in some Venezuelan Ascomycetes collected by
C.E. Chardon and A.A. Muller. Mycologia
Miller, Julian H. and M. Gwendolyn Burton (1943) Study of Bagnisiopsis species on the Melastomataceae. Mycologia 35(3):
Miller, Julian Howell, M. Gwendolyn Burton and
Troy Manning (1945)
A statistical study of the relations between flax fiber numbers
and diameters and sizes of stems. Journ. Agr. Res. 70: 269-281.
Crenshaw, Holly (2005) Obituary: Gwendolyn Caldwell, 88, loved to
learn. The Atlanta
Journal-Constitution, Wednesday, 22 June 2005.
Record for Mary Gwendolyn Burton, filed September 15, 1938, Alumni Office, South
Building, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Records, University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The Alumni Review,
February 1947. 35(5): 180.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Find A Grave
Memorial #27667741. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=27667741