Nahant digs into its plants, then and now.

By John Laidler The Boston Globe, July 30, 2019

The Nahant Public Library plans to join with members of the community to explore the town’s current and historic plant population.

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners is providing Nahant with a $15,000 federal grant for the initiative, Go Local: Nature in Nahant. The project will involve discovering the plants that grow — and once grew — in the seaside town’s unique natural surroundings, using a 19th-century pressed plant collection held by the library.

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The herbarium was created in 1897 by Nahant schoolteacher Florence “Miss Flossie” Johnson and her pupils. That year, Johnson and her class entered 184 specimens into a Massachusetts Horticultural Society show, earning them a prize. These and more than 200 additional specimens make up the collection.

The library will digitize the collection to make it more accessible to scholars and the public. The project also involves creating exhibits; holding a Walk Nahant Day; offering a lecture series and a school program; and creating a time capsule.

“With this two-year grant, we hope to make Nahant’s natural history come alive in many ways,” said Sharon Hawkes, the town’s library director, said in a statement. “With the town’s help, we can better understand the answer to the question, ‘What grew here, and what should we preserve for the future?’”