Skip to main content

"Plant Pathology: Images From Our Past," a photographic exhibit, will be Aug. 9-13 in Rochester, N.Y.

The American Phytopathological Society (APS) will exhibit historical agricultural photographs at its convention in Rochester, N.Y., Aug. 9-13, including a public exhibit displaying turn-of-the-century photographs from New York's agricultural efforts.

The exhibit, "Plant Pathology: Images from Our Past," will be in the lobby of the Triphammer Grill restaurant, 60 Brown's Race, Rochester, for the duration of the convention. The exhibit is free. (The Triphammer Grill is adjacent to the Center at High Falls, in the Brown's Race Historic District.)

The APS, headquartered in St. Paul, Minn., is an international group of plant pathologists, scientists interested in solving problems with fungi, bacteria, viruses, and nematodes that reduce yield and quality of the world's plant products. Scientific symposia, papers and posters will range from learning about forest health assessment to obtaining the latest information in plant diseases to opinions on dealing with exotic pests in a free-trade world and improved understanding of transgenic plants.

"This is the first time we've ever shown an exhibit like this to the general public and we're pretty excited about it," said Gary Bergstrom, Cornell professor of plant pathology. The photos all come from the Cornell University Plant Pathology Department in Ithaca and they have been printed from glass-plate negatives, taken around the turn of the century.

In the Cornell Plant Pathology collection, there are tens of thousands photographs, representing everything from fungal diseases to bacteria, and even some portraits of plant pathologists from the past. Today, glass-plate negatives are no longer used.

The exhibit is jointly sponsored by Cornell University's Plant Pathology Department in Ithaca and Cornell's Albert R. Mann Library, as well the APS. Following the exhibition in Rochester, the exhibit will move to the Mann Library on the Cornell campus in Ithaca.

Only three people have served as photographer for Cornell's Plant Pathology Department since the position was created in 1907. The department's current photographer is Kent Loeffler, a 1985 Rochester Institute of Technology graduate in biomedical photography. Before him, the photography post was held by Willis R. Fischer, from 1907 to 1950; and by Howard Lyon, from 1950 to 1985.

While plant pathology photography usually does not include photos of people, photographers of the past managed to obtain some very interesting agricultural scenes. For example, one of the more striking pictures in the Cornell collection includes immigrant workers harvesting beans in Oneida, N.Y., in 1909. Another depicts a farmer dusting his orchard for fungal diseases, in 1914, in Holley, N.Y.

"It shows how far we've come in the last century. Today's farmers use integrated pest management methods," Bergstrom said, noting that farmers prefer environmentally benign methods of handling pests because they are generally more economical.

EDITORS: You are invited to attend the exhibit and to publish photographs from the exhibit. For information on the exhibit, contact Blaine Friedlander, Cornell News Service, (607) 255-3290. To obtain media credentials for the APS convention, contact Mary Courteau, APS, (612) 454-7250. You are welcome to attend all events, including field trips.