Mr. Chickering was a prominent attorney in San Francisco, practicing securities and utility law at Chickering and Gregory, a law firm founded by his grandfather in the 1870's.
During his life time Mr. Chickering was dedicated to the appreciation of the natural world. He was a life member of the Audubon Society, the Wilderness Society, the California Wildlife Federation, and was a member of the Sierra Club, the California Waterfowl Association, and the Nature Conservancy. He was a member of the California Fish and Game Commission, serving three times as its president.
Most proudly for this institution, Mr. Chickering joined the Board of Trustees in 1972, and served as trustee and honorary trustee until his death in 1993. This affection with the California Academy of Sciences reinforced Mr. Chickering's first love: botany. He was an ardent student and collector of California wildflowers and a significant participant in the effort to produce The Jepson Manual at the University of California, Berkeley.
Among many thoughts and remembrances that Mr. Chickering recorded in a journal, he wrote the following:
"I think I am most proud of the herbarium and botany of wildflowers I have collected in the area of the North Fork of the American River. My eight volumes of photographs and pressed flowers have been poured over by some of the foremost botanists of the state. I hope that they will forerun an era in which colored photographs will assume a significant place in herbarium collections."
In memory of Mr. Chickering's death in 1993, friends made significant contributions to the California Academy of Sciences so that his vision could be realized.
Academy staff, including Frank Almeda, Curator of Botany, and Roy Eisenhardt, a former Academy Director, have photographed and documented a selection of California wildflowers. To this point, over 125 species have been photographed and samples collected for inclusion into the permanent collections at the Academy.
Thanks to the generous assistance of William Hewlett and the late David Packard, who donated this computer equipment, the Academy has been able to take the process one step further. This project provides visitors with the means of appreciating the beauty of those flowers, increasing opportunities for visual identification, and provides a resource for further research on the various species.