Liriodendron tulipifera flower

The University of North Carolina
A Department of the North Carolina Botanical Garden


Collectors of the UNC Herbarium

Harold Goddard Rugg
(21 January 1883 –  13 February 1957)

Information compiled January 2011 by
Carol Ann McCormick, Asst. Curator, University of North Carolina Herbarium

The University of North Carolina Herbarium has only a few specimens collected by Harold Goddard Rugg.  All are ferns or fern allies:  Huperzia lucidula from Ascutney Mountain, Windsor County, VT, 1907; Lycopodiella inundata from Cavendish, Windsor County, VT, 1908; Asplenium resiliens from Cleveland, Bradley County, TN, 1908; and Asplenium montanum from Sewanee, Marion County, TN, undated.  All of NCU’s specimens from the southeastern United States have been catalogued, but those from outside that area have not, so it is possible we may find more specimens collected by Rugg in our collection.


McCorison, Marcus A. (2003)  Rugg, Harold Goddard (1883-1957).  The Vermont Encyclopedia, John J. Duffy, Samuel B. Hand and Ralph H. Orth, eds.  Lebanon, NH:  University of Vermont Press, p. 254.

Harold Rugg, associate librarian of Dartmouth College, was a preeminent twentieth-century collector of Vermont imprints.  Born in Hartland [Vermont], Dartmouth class of 1906, Rugg spent his entire career at Dartmouth College, where he greatly increased and improved the college’s research collections through significant purchases and personal gifts.  Vermontians and modern English and American literature were his primary interests.  Rugg introduced Dartmouth student to the art of the book in a class that he taught for twenty years, which, in 1940, transformed itself into the Graphic Arts Workshop led by Ray Nash.  In 1941, Rugg and Nash published a history of the press in Hanover, New Hampshire, entitled Pioneer Printing at Dartmouth that delineated the work of the press that Judah P. and Alden Spooner established at Dresden, a precinct of Hanover, during the period of the East Union.  Despite his commitment to Dartmouth and the town of Hanover, however, Rugg was always a Vermonter.  His personal collection of Vermont printed and manuscript matter, Vermont glass, and Bennington ware, as well as other antiques, were noteworthy.  He worked for many years to revise The Bibliography of Vermont by Marcus D. Gilman.  He bequeathed his large Vermont collections to the Vermont Historical Society.  He was also an inveterate mountain climber, gardener, world traveler, and botanist.  A fern he identified, Osmunda ruggii, is named for him. 


Benedict, R.C. (1957)  Harold Goddard Rugg, 1883-1957.  Am. Fern J. 47(2):  49-51. [photographic portrait of Rugg on p. 50]

Ave aque Vale!” is a fitting salute to Harold Goddard Rugg.  Only shortly after being elected Vice-President of the American Fern Society, he died on February 13 after a short illness.

His cooperation with other fern students had extended over a period of at least 50 years.  A member of the Society from 1906 onward, a postcard from him in 1907 carried the following:  Is there anything I can do for you?  Do you expect to be up Vermont or N.H. this summer?  I found D. Boottii for the first time last week.  I saw growing one plant of A. ebenoides.”  Ezra Brainerd, verteran Vermont botanist, reports in the first volume of the Fern Journal [1: 78, 79. 1911] that Rugg had found one of the Dowell hybrids, D. Goldiana X marginalis, as early as 1907, although he did not correctly identify it till two years later.  In this same period, he was raising ferns from spores and attempting to produce hybrids by mixing species in his spore cultures.  Rugg went on to find may rare ferns, in many parts of the United States and to visit England and the European continent in his fern hunting.  As early as 1908 he writes of importing special ferns from an English dealer – “30 plants of hardy ferns native in Europe and Japan.”  Not all his fern expeditions were successful; one card carries the query “What am I likely to find in the Dismal Swamp region?” to be followed by another – “In my Virginian Rambles, the only fern I found was Pteris aquiline pseudocaudata.”

But fern hunting and fern gardening were merely Rugg’s hobby.  To Dartmouth, he was a librarian, the College expert on rare books, who gave a course on the “art of books.”  His library service at Dartmouth, begun part-time when a junior in 1905, became his full time vocation immediately after his graduation in 1906.  On more than one occasion, the College honored him for his unremitting services; before his retirement in 1953, he had been made Associate Librarian with the rank of full professor.  During his Dartmouth service, Rugg was one of the earliest to recognize the genius of Robert Frost and gave appreciated help in the struggling days of the poet by arranging a lecture engagement at Dartmouth.  At his death, his personal library included a valuable collection of the works of Frost.

In Vermont, Rugg’s birth-state, he was highly regarded as an expert on Vermont history and indeed he had national recognition in this field.  Long a member of the Vermont Historical Society, and active as a Director, he left a library of over 2300 volumes and over 3000 documents and manuscripts on the origins and development of Vermont communities.  A major literary project of his, which we may hope was ready for publication, was a detailed account of every village and other community in the state of Vermont.

Rugg’s notable fern garden in Hanover was left to Dartmouth College, which has decided that it will be unable to maintain it.  Negotiations are therefore underway to distribute the rare plants in the garden to institutions where they will receive adequate care.


See for an article for the Vermont Historical Society focusing on Rugg’s bequest to this organization.  From this publication, we learn that Harold Rugg was the only child of David Fletcher Rug (1852-1900) and Julia Augusta Hager (1853-1925).  Harold went to high school in Lodlow at Black River Academy, and served as a page in the Vermont Legislature in 1896.  He attended Philips Exeter Academy (Exeter, New Hampshire) for a year before entering Dartmouth College in 1902.  He graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1906 and began his career in the Dartmouth library as a secretary.  In 1912 he became executive assistant to the librarian, and in 1919 assistant librarian, a position he held until his retirement in 1953.  He taught courses on printing and the history of books in the Art Department beginning in the 1920’s, and eventually became a full professor in 1947.  He was awarded an honorary M.A. degree in 1940 by Dartmouth College.  He joined the Vermont Historical Society in 1908 and served in various capacities in that organization until his death.  He hiked with the Dartmouth Outing Club, the Appalachian Mountain Club, and the Green Mountain Club.  Upon his death, his estate was divided between Dartmouth College and the Vermont Historical Society.



PUBLICATIONS (Incomplete list)

Rugg, Harold G. (1925)  Isaac Eddy, printer-engraver” IN Bibliographical Essays:  A tribute to Wilberforce Eames.  Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Press, pp. 313-329.

Keyes, Homer Eaton and Harold G. Rugg (June 1928) [Vermont pewter makers, Richard Lee & Richard Lee, Jr.]  Antiques 13:  493-495.

Peach, Arthur Wallace and Harold G. Rugg, eds. (1931)  Vermont Prose:  A miscellany.  Brattleboro, VT:  Stephen Daye Press.

Rugg, Harold G.  (1940)  A summer in northern Europe.  Am. Fern J. 30(4):  129-131.

Rugg, Harold G.  (1948)  Some New Hampshire ferns.  Am. Fern J. 38(3):  92-93.

Rugg, Harold G.  (1950)  The Male-Fern in Vermont.  Am. Fern J. 40(1):  97-100.

Rugg, Harold G.  (1951)  The Climbing Fern in Vermont.  Am. Fern J. 41(4):  116-117.




Excerpts from Harold Rugg’s diaries as an undergraduate at Dartmouth College during the 1918 influenza epidemic are featured IN Carter, Laura Stephenson (2006)  Cold Comfort.  Dartmouth Medicine, a Magazine for Alumni and Friends of Dartmouth Medical School and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.





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University of North Carolina Herbarium
CB# 3280, Coker Hall
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3280
phone: (919) 962-6931
fax: (919) 962-6930

Last Updated: 20 June 2011