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Short biography
Liberty Hyde Bailey was born on a fruit farm in South Haven, Michigan, on March 15, 1858. As a child he spent a great deal of time in the forests about his father's farm, "and learned early the ways of wild-life, of the plants and animals that composed it" (Lawrence 27). After receiving his early education in a small country school, he went to the Michigan State Agricultural College, entering in 1877. While at Michigan State he served as the editor of the College Speculum and was academically at the top of his class (Lawrence 27). He earned his B.S. in 1882, having taken a year off for illness (1880-1881). After graduation, he tried working as a newspaper reporter for a short while, then spent two years (1883-1884) assisting Asa Gray at Harvard University. He returned to Michigan State College as a professor of horticulture and landscape gardening in 1884 and stayed until 1888. In 1885 he was granted a master's degree by Michigan. Cornell offered him the post of professor of horticulture in 1888; Bailey accepted with the condition that Cornell sponsor a trip to Europe. This trip enabled Bailey to visit "every important herbarium west of Russia, including those at Prague, Vienna, and Uppsala" (Lawrence 300). Bailey served as horticulture professor at Cornell until 1903, when he became director of the College of Agriculture at Cornell. The year 1903 also saw the founding of the American Society for Horticultural Science by Bailey and S.A. Beach. Bailey would serve as president of that organization for its first four years of existence. In 1904, 10 years of work to make the College of Agriculture financially independent of the University succeded, and the State College of Agriculture at Cornell was founded. Bailey was appointed Dean of the faculty, Director of the College and its Experiment Station, and Professor of Rural Economy (Lawrence 31). Bailey established the Department of Experimental Plant Biology at Cornell in 1907, which would later become the Department of Plant Breeding (Lawrence 29). He retired as dean and director in 1813, but he continued to lead a very active life after official retirement. When he died, on December 25, 1954, at Ithaca, N.Y., he was described as the last living link to the Asa Gray era of American botany.
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