One of John Hope Franklin’s most well known hobbies was growing orchids and he had a prized collection, which included over 1000 orchids of different varieties, shapes, and sizes. In 1959, while teaching in Hawaii, Franklin became fascinated with the precious flower.
Many of Franklin’s orchids were acquired during his travels around the world, and he built greenhouses in his homes in Brooklyn, Chicago, and Durham to cultivate and house his special collection of orchid specimens and hybrids. Franklin’s custom-built greenhouse at his home in Durham measured 17 x 25 feet.
In 1976, John T. Wilson, president of the University of Chicago named an orchid hybrid in honor of Franklin, the Phalaenopis John Hope Franklin. The flower, which is white and red in color, is recognized by Britain’s Royal Horticultural Society. Another species of orchid was named in honor of Aurelia Franklin after her passing in 1999.
The Franklin family was renowned for their orchid collection, and frequently showed them off to visitors to their home; John Hope frequently referred to them as his “babies.”
This series is a part of Duke University’s John Hope Franklin@100: Scholar, Activist, Citizen year-long celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. John Hope Franklin
Submitted by Gloria Ayee, Franklin Research Center Intern