Jenny Colden and Carl von Linne
Jane Colden’s relationship with Linnaeus was documented mostly through pen and words. This relationship in fact was not only professional, as best the distance between the two could make of it, and personal to some extent. Jane’s communications with Linnaeus were enough to make him feel comfortable enough about what to call her in both his personal and professional communications–Jenny. So this is how she is known to Linnaeus, and in the followers of Linnaeus’s work who have some sort of direct professional relationship with him well into the early 1800s.
Less than ten years following Linnaeus’s death in 1778, a fairly lengthy biography about him was written. In this biography is a special chapter that provides us with the best insight into this personal-professional relationship that had evolved between Jenny and Linnaeus. Jenny was of course the first to pass in terms of life’s progress and her lifetime of achievements, as most scholars would interpret this part of world botany history. But this would not let Carl von Linne forget her contributions to the field of botany and taxonomy as a whole, in particular her contributions as a lady. So this became an important part of Linne’s life story in the biography produced about his life experiences and personal contributions. The following provides us with still more knowledge about Jenny’s importance to the field of botany in general, something which has already been eluded to, but not in as much detail and with as much social perspective about this changing role of the woman in science as the work of the author of Linne’s biography.
From this biography, the following section is extracted.