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Eugen Honoratus Jørgensen (1862-1938)

Eugen Honoratus Jørgensen
Text by: Jane K. Dolven (2005)

Eugen Honoratius Jørgensen, son of merchant Hans Jørgensen and Olea Henriksen Wieborg, was born in Kristiania (now called Oslo), Norway, on the 29th of November 1862. He started studying at Kristiania Katedralskole in 1880, and graduated as "cand. real." with excellent grades in 1887. His exceptional skills in both mathematic and physics attracted a lot of attention among fellow students and his teachers. Jørgensen's interest for botany was initiated already early in his study. He became an eager collector of flowers and plants leading to several stipendiums to do botanical surveying. The first area he worked in was Langesund and Kragerø (an area about 150 km south of Oslo), where he mapped and described a considerable amount of species in 1883. These findings were mentioned in several publications by Axel Blytt. After graduating, Jørgensen started teaching at various middle schools around the country. First for a short while in Tromsø, then three years in Hammerfest, three years in Sandefjord and two years in Kristiania, before he ended up working at Bergen Katedralskole from 1894-1932. He married Lilly Ivara Sæther on 11th of August 1892 and had a daughter they named Dagny Jørgensen. In addition to his teaching profession, Jørgensen continued to live and thrive for his botanical studies. He put strenuous efforts to map and collect flowers and plants everywhere he traveled. After moving to Bergen, Jørgensen soon got in touch with the Bergen Museum, from where he later (i.e. 1898) got stipendiary work and a permanent office. The museum work made it possible for him to focus more on his botanical research and less on teaching. During the period he was engaged at the museum (1898-1932), he produced extensive monographs on both Norwegian liverworts (Hepatophyta) and Norwegian Eyebright (Euphrasia), publications later widely used and acknowledged by botanists world wide. For these genuine efforts, and in particular his work on liverworts, he was honored with the "Fridtjof Nansen award" in 1935.

Eugen Honoratus Jørgensen Bergen Museum's main activity was at the turn of the century marine research, and Jørgensen soon also became interested in marine plankton, especially diatoms, dinoflagellates (peridiniales), tintinnids and radiolarians. His study of these groups resulted in many taxonomic publications. The most well known is "Hydrographical and Biological investigations in Norwegian Fiords" that he wrote together with the zoologist O. Nordgård and published in 1905. In this book Jørgensen describes more than 50 radiolarian species from the Norwegian coast, and of these 12 new radiolarian species.

Jørgensen was known for his long working hours from early morning till late evening, weekends as weekdays. The only times he was absent from his office was when teaching classes or when he was in the field collecting new data. His excitement for botany and marine plankton took him several places in Norway (e.g. Svalbard, 1896) and abroad (e.g. Gulf of Mexico, 1910). Jørgensen was said to be a rather shy and mysterious man, but the few that had the pleasure of getting to know him found him warm hearted and friendly, and always ready to help if needed. In spite of his gradually decreasing health - partly caused by his persistently hard work - his strong enthusiasm and devotion for science followed him to the end (May 14, 1938).

Jørgensen's apotek Jørgensen's collections
Most of Jørgensen's plankton material (commonly named "Jørgensen's apotek") and slides are today located and well organized at the University of Bergen. These collections consist of several bottles of labeled plankton samples and numerous boxes with slides, and are curated by Professor and Professor .

Jørgensen's radiolarian slide collection, however, is stored at the Natural History Museum (Oslo) with Professor Kjell R. Bjørklund. Depicted type specimens can be seen in Bjørklund (1976), plates 1-12.

Jørgensen's radiolarian publications
Jørgensen, E., 1900. Protophyten und Protozöen in Plankton aus der norwegischen Westküste. Bergen Museums Aarbog [1899], no. 6: 51-112 (+ 4 radiolarian plates). Pdf version & plates

Jørgensen, E., 1901. Protistenplankton aus dem Nordmeere in den Jahren 1897-1900. Bergens Museums Aarbog [1900], no. 6: 1-37.

Jørgensen, E., 1905. The Protist plankton and the diatoms in bottom samples. VII. Radiolaria. In: Nordgaard, O. (editor), Hydrographical and Biological investigations in Norwegian Fiords. Bergen Museum Skrifter, 114-142 (+ 11 radiolarian plates).

Jørgensen, E., 1909. Note sur les Radiolaires. Croisiere Oceanographique Belgica, Mer du Gronland [1905], Bulens, C., Imprimerie Scientifique, Brussels, Belgium, 455-459.

Jørgensen's radiolarian illustrations
Jørgensen described and figured more than 90 radiolarian species in his publications. Of these were more than 50 new species (not all still valid, though). A list of all species names and plates can be found at Jørgensen (1900) and Jørgensen (1905). Jørgensen made all his illustrations himself, and examples of the good quality are shown below where a few of his drawings are placed next to the photos of the illustrated specimens. Photos from the Jørgensen's slide collection were taken by Kjell Bjørklund.

Hexacontium pachydermum Hexacontium pachydermum Jørgensen 1900
More information about this species here.
Androcyclas gamphonycha Androcyclas gamphonycha (Jørgensen 1900)
More information about this species here.
Lithomelissa hystrix Lithomelissa hystrix Jørgensen 1900
More information about this species here.

Many thanks to Professor and Professor Per Magnus Jørgensen, both working at the Natural History Collections, Bergen museum, University of Bergen, for providing information about E.H. Jørgensen and for taking time to show me his notes and collections.

Holmeboe, J., 1936. Jørgensen, Eugen Honoratus. Norsk biografisk leksikon, 7: 158-160.
Holmeboe, J., 1938. Minnetale over lektor Eugen Jørgensen. Norsk Videskaps-Akademis Årbok, 73-76.