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Taxonomic Literature II

.: History of Taxonomic Literature II

Taxonomic Literature: a selective guide to botanical publications and collections with dates, commentaries and types, also known as TL-2, is an indispensable and essential resource that supports the research of systematic botanists and zoologists. In addition, TL-2 is an important reference tool in the science information field for librarians and information professionals working in Botany and other life sciences. Its coverage is international providing bibliographic analyses of works in many languages including English, French, German, and Latin. Overall, TL-2 provides the most comprehensive bibliographical and biographical coverage for systematic botany literature published between 1753 and 1940.

Work laying the foundation for TL-2 began in the 1950's when Dutch botanist Frans A. Stafleu (1921-1997) created a card index of plant taxonomic literature to aid in the editing of the fourth edition of the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature and the compilation of an Index Nominum Genericorum (an index of plant generic names). In 1964, the American botanist Grady Webster (1927-2005) while visiting Stafleu had occasion to consult the card index and suggested that Stafleu make his index available to all taxonomists. Consequently, in 1967 Stafleu published Taxonomic Literature (TL) based on this card index. Immediately there was pressure from the international botanical community for an expanded and more detailed second edition of this valuable guide.

In 1973, Stafleu began compiling TL-2 and Richard S. Cowan (1921-1997), recently retired as director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Natural History Museum, joined him in the research and writing. The single-volume TL became a seven-volume TL-2 by the time the pair completed their work in 1988. However, as the first volume of TL-2, which treated authors with surnames A-G, was published without external funding they felt that its bibliographic coverage was less thorough than that of the six subsequent volumes and they decided to publish a supplement to rectify this imbalance. Ultimately, one supplement became eight and publication of TL-2, 15 volumes total, was concluded in 2009. The completed TL-2 was the product of research by not only Stafleu and Cowan, but also three other principal authors of the supplements: Laurence J. Dorr, Erik A. Mennega, and Dan H. Nicolson.

TL-2 is organized by author surname. Author entries provide a variety of information on each botanist. A typical entry will have a short biography, information as to where herbarium specimens and types are deposited, and where further information about the author can be found. The main part of each entry provides bibliographic details on publications by that author; each title a separate, numbered entry in chronological order. Extremely useful to the researcher or librarian is information as to which libraries own a copy of a given publication. The collections of more than 100 libraries were surveyed for TL-2. In the back of each of the 15 volumes two separate indices are provided; one to titles in alphabetical order and their corresponding entry number, and one to names of persons.

To learn more about TL-2, please see:

TL-2 speaks volumes by Dan H. Nicolson and Laurence Dorr, http://botany.si.edu/pubs/plantpress/vol11no4.pdf

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