This online resource showcases pages from Romeyn Beck Hough’s unique fourteen volume work The American Woods, a collection of more than 1000 paper-thin wood samples representing more than 350 varieties of North American tree. Between 1888 and 1913, Hough published a total of thirteen volumes of the work, but died in 1923 before being able to fulfill his epic fifteen volume plan. However, a final fourteenth volume was published in 1928 using his samples and field notes compiled by his daughter. Each specimen page of the work is dedicated to a single tree and consists of a cardboard plate into which three translucent slices have been placed, three variations of cross-section — transverse, radial, and tangential. The wafer-thin slivers — which would glow like a slide when held up to the light — were prepared using a slicing machine of Hough’s own design and which he patented in 1886.
In addition to the specimens Hough also provides information about the characteristics, growth habits, medicinal properties, and commercial possibilities of the tree.
An abridgement of The American Woods was published as The Woodbook, which is available in the Reference section of our library [call number Q 70 H81 2002].