Gorman, Martin W.

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Biographical History

Martin W. Gorman was an amateur botanist, with an interest in trees. He spent much of his career in various banking and accounting positions, traveling and exploring the Pacific Northwest and Alaska sometimes relating to his work in accounting, collecting on his own time, and at other times through his own expenditures. He was born on November 23, 1853 in Eaganville, Renfrew County, Ontario, Canada. He enrolled at McGill College while living in Montreal, 1876 – 1883, while working as a bookkeeper for a wholesale hardware store. In 1884 Gorman came to the United States, moving to Portland, Oregon, where he worked for various institutions such as the Catholic Sentinel (1884-1891), D. W. Crowley and Co. (1891-1896), Mason, Ehrman and Company (1898-1900) and Charles Hegele and Company (1900-1902). According to a letter written to his brother, Gorman first mentioned studying and collecting in botany in the 1890’s. In 1893, Gorman traveled to the Yukon Territory to oversee the salmon harvest on behalf of the bank for which he worked, and began collecting in the region. This was the first of several trips to the area over the next few years. Gorman collected across much of Oregon and Washington during trips he took during the summers. He was part of a climbing expedition to Mount Baker in 1906, and later published a booklet concerning the trip titled, Vegetation of the Northwestern Slope of Mount Baker. Gorman was eventually named custodian of the Oregon Forestry Building, a visitor exhibit from the Lewis and Clark Expedition which was owned by the City of Portland Parks Bureau. He held this position until his death in October 7, 1926. A large number of his collected specimens now reside at the Smithsonian Institution and the University of Oregon Herbarium. His personal collection was acquired by the University of Oregon following his death. Gorman is credited with discovering at least 10 new species.


  • Smith, Rose M. (2004). “Guide to the Martin W. Gorman papers 1872-1929.” Northwest Digital Archives. retrieved from http://nwda.orbiscascade.org/ark:/80444/xv01034.
  • Natural History Museum (London, England). “Gorman, Martin Woodlock (1853-1926).” JSTOR Global Plants. Retrieved from http://plants.jstor.org/person/bm000326636
  • Bornholdt, M. D. (2006). "Martin Woodlock Gorman (1853-1926): Outdoorsman Extraordinary". Kalmiopsis. 13, 21-31.

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