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Edwin Lincoln Moseley

Edwin Lincoln Moseley was born in Union City, Michigan, 29 March 1865. In high school, he studied Latin, Greek, philosophy, physiology, and zoology. He graduated from high school at the age of fifteen and did a year of post high school study. He then enrolled in the University of Michigan, receiving both his bachelor’s and master’s degree in a short four-year term there.

For two years following graduation, he was a high school teacher in Grand Rapids, Michigan. But he first distinguished himself as a natural science teacher at Sandusky, Ohio, from 1889 to 1914.

At Sandusky, he taught natural science by the experimental method, where he frequently took students on field trips into the natural areas of Erie County. In Sandusky Bay, he and his students traced submerged stream valleys, with the maps resulting in facilitated deepwater freight traffic into the bay to the city of Sandusky.

Most importantly, Moseley and his students collected and assembled a massive herbarium of the vascular plants of the Firelands area (Erie and Huron Counties) and the adjacent Lake Erie islands. This culminated in 1899 with his publication of Ohio State Academy of Science Special Papers No. 1, SANDUSKY FLORA, A Catalog of the Flowering Plants and Ferns Growing Without Cultivation, in Erie County, Ohio, and the Peninsula and Islands of Ottawa County.

This seminal document, one of the earliest publications of the Ohio Academy of Science (now out of print), thoroughly documented the prairie and other flora of the Sandusky region, particularly the plants of the great Firelands prairie that extended from Bellevue to Huron. No other tallgrass prairie in the United States has a more thoroughly documented plant species list from the nineteenth century.

Firelands Prairie

In 1914, Moseley was appointed one of the first faculty members of the new Bowling Green Normal College, later to become Bowling Green State University. At this new teachers college, he was a science professor and head of the biology department, a position he retained until his retirement in 1936. Until his death in 1948, he served as curator of the University’s natural history and science museum.

While at Bowling Green State University, Moseley did extensive botanical study in the Oak Openings region west of Toledo. He was one of the first to recognize and document the world-class prairie and savanna communities of this unique area. Oak Openings

Curiously, during his teaching careers at both Sandusky and Bowling Green State University, E. L. Moseley was regarded as rather eccentric, even a bit miserly. But upon his death, it was discovered he had accumulated a sizable estate, virtually all of which was to be used to subsidize needy students’ study at BGSU.


Center for Archival Collections         Bowling Green State University

Honoring and Recognizing Those Who Have Profoundly Contributed

to the

Discovery, Study, Conservation, Management, Restoration, Recognition, and Public Appreciation


— Ohio’s Native Prairies —