Missionary, Teacher, Botanist, Surgeon (1838-1909).
George E. Post was born in New York City on December 17, 1838. Like his father (Albert Charles Post) and great-uncle (Wright Post), he made major contributions in medicine and botany.
He graduated from College of the City of New York with a BA in 1854, MA in 1857, and later MD in 1860. He also got some botanical training as part of his medical education, started collecting plants and continued in this habit wherever he lived as part of his lifelong interest in Botany. In 1861, he earned a divinity degree from the Union Theological Seminary of the Presbyterians, and became a preacher in the Presbyterian Church. Post completed his dental degree at Baltimore Dental College, and married Sarah Read in September 1863. They soon sailed together as missionaries to Syria in November 1863.
Like many Americans, the Posts had big interest in foreign missions. Their first station was Tripoli, where Post started studying Arabic besides practicing medicine and dentistry, preaching and teaching. He travelled widely in the region (Kassab, Hama, Safeeta, Homs), collecting plants. After sometime; he became fluent in both written and spoken Arabic.
In 1867, Dr. Post was appointed as professor in the Medical Department of the Syrian Protestant College (SPC, presently AUB). Due to his major interest in Botany, he was committed to establish botany at SPC, along with his responsibilities in the medical field. Post taught two courses, Elements of botany and Materia Medica. Post got the plant specimens of the “Materia Medica” course, through exchange from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (1882).
Post had a strong desire to establish a herbarium both for its value and as a research resource. He began collecting plants from the Eastern Mediterranean Region. This allowed him to write his book “Flora of Syria, Palestine and Sinai”, http://www.archive.org/details/floraofsyriapale00post, which was published by the College between 1883 and 1896. In this work and its revision by John Edward Dinsmore of the American Colony, Jerusalem, published by A.U.B. in 1932-33, the classification of plants follows that of Boissier’s Flora Orientalis. The Post Herbarium is one of the largest and most diverse herbaria in the Middle East. He had his characteristic labels printed with the Biblical names of the regions in which he collected. His herbarium is rich with collections of both well-known and obscure botanists, obtained through exchange and gifts.
Post was considered one of the botanists of his time. He was a member of the Torrey Botanical club of New York, which gave him the opportunity to exchange specimens with fellow American botanists. He even collected numerous duplicates for exchange. Post named hundreds of plants. The majority of his types are in the Post Herbarium and in Boissier Herbarium in Geneva. The majority of species described by Post were published by the Boissier Herbarium.
Jessup, H. H., 1910. Fifty-three years in Syria. New York: Fleming H. Revell. 2 volumes.
Khoury, G.Y., 1992. The founding fathers of the American University of Beirut biographies. Beirut: American University of Beirut. Pp 232 (English), 215 (Arabic).
Musselman, L.J., 2006. The botanical activities of George Edward Post (1838-1909). Archives of natural history 33(2): 282-301.