The Phippen-LaCroix Herbarium (TUFT) at Tufts University was started in 1963 and was largely the work of Dr. Norton Nickerson, professor of Biology and Environmental Studies, and his students. The original herbarium was destroyed by fire in 1975. However, with the generous support of Richard D. and Suzanne (LaCroix) Phippen the herbarium was rebuilt and student interns employed for many years. The herbarium was used as a teaching tool to acquaint students with the whole process of collection, identification and proper preservation of botanical specimens. Rebuilding included extensive recollection of Hudsonia tomentosa, H. ericoides and subspecies from throughout their entire range. The herbarium reflected the interests and travels of Dr. Nickerson and his students and includes an extensive collection of mangrove parts. Geographic areas represented include New England particularly Barnstable County, the Bahamas, particularly Hummingbird Cay and Exuma, New Zealand, and China. While most of the collections are post 1975, the herbarium also includes Vermont collections of G. L. Kirk from the early 1900s. The Phippen LaCroix herbarium was acquired by the University of Massachusetts Herbarium in 1998. At that time the herbarium contained 15,847 mounted and identified specimens including 430 sheets of macro-algae. Duplicates were distributed to the following herbaria: Auburn University (AUA), Bridgewater State University (BRIDGW), California Academy of Sciences (CAS), University of Connecticut (CONN), Harvard University (HUH), Northern Illinois University (DEK) and the University of Vermont (VT). In addition, many unmounted specimens that needed further work were donated to Bridgewater State University (BRIDGW).
Norton Nickerson graduated from the Massachusetts Agricultural College (MAC, 1949) with a major in Botany. He was greatly inspired and influenced by Dr. Ray Ethan Torrey. After receiving his MA in Botany from the University of Texas (1951) and his Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis, he returned to the University of Massachusetts as an instructor from 1953-1956. Subsequently he moved to Tufts University where he remained until his retirement.