Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: arn00024

Bernice G. Schubert papers

Scope and Contents

A large portion of this collection is made up of Schubert's files, which were kept organized as she left them. The files include a mixture of correspondence, printed material, photographs, postcards, and other documents.

The remainder of this collection was received separately from Schubert's files, and has been divided according to material type. It includes letters received by the Harvard University Herbaria in response to Schubert's death; a small number of miscellaneous letters to Schubert; many portraits of Schubert throughout her life; several group portraits from botanical conferences; a series of color slides taken by Schubert; biographical information on Schubert such as curriculum vitae, publications lists, and obituaries; and a few miscellaneous items.

The collection also includes 8 cartons and 2 card files of unprocessed or minimally processed materials.

Schubert's field notes were incorporated into her papers in 2021.


  • 1918-2000


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research by appointment with the following exceptions: Harvard University records are restricted for 50 years; Harvard personnel and student records are closed for 80 years. Some restrictions have been noted in the finding aid. Other records may need to be evaluated by archives staff in advance.

Researchers must register and provide one form of valid photo identification. Please contact for additional information.


28 linear feet (20 record cartons, 1 flat oversize box, 2 card files, 1/2 width manuscript box, 1 oversize folder, 1 binder)

Biographical note

Bernice Giduz Schubert was born October 6, 1913, in Boston. She received her B.S. at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1935. She earned her M.S. in 1937 and her Ph.D. in 1941, from Radcliffe College. She worked as a research assistant in systematic botany at Harvard's Gray Herbarium from 1936 to 1939, where she did taxonomic research on Desmodium and Begonia. She assisted with M.L. Fernald's Gray's Manual of Botany (8th edition) and Edible Wild Plants of Eastern North America. From 1950 to 1951, she conducted research on legumes as a Guggenheim fellow in Europe. She worked at the Jardin Botanique de l'Etat in Brussels, Belgium, from 1951 to 1952.

From 1952 to 1961, Schubert was employed as a plant taxonomist for the U.S.D.A. One of her projects was a program with the National Heart Institute and the National Institutes of Health to screen plants for the presence of alkaloids that could be used to treat hypertension. Schubert next began working at Harvard, where she continued until her retirement in 1984. Among various positions, she was the curator of the Arnold Arboretum, a senior lecturer on biology, and the editor of the Journal of the Arnold Arboretum. She also continued her research focusing on Dioscoreaceae, Leguminosae, and Begoniaceae. Schubert published over 100 scientific papers, was the first secretary of the Women's Organization at Harvard, and was a founding member of the International Association of Plant Taxonomists. She traveled widely, especially to Latin America and Mexico, where she had many contacts in the botanical community. Schubert died August 14, 2000, in Lexington, Massachusetts, at age 86.


American Men and Women of Science, 18th ed., 579. Flora of North America Newsletter 14(3), July-September 2000, 16-17.


This collection is organized into six series.

Series 1. Schubert's Files. Series 2. Correspondence. Series 3. Photographs and Slides. Series 4. Printed Material and Miscellaneous Papers Series 5. Additions. Series 6. Field notes. Series 7. Unprocessed materials.


Schubert donated some of her papers during her retirement. The bulk were moved from her office following her death.

Processing Information

There is a detailed finding aid for boxes 1-11 and 14-16 in this collection. The rest of the collection is unprocessed or minimally processed.

To locate folders in the collection researchers must note the series number, box number and folder number.

Schubert, Bernice. Bernice G. Schubert papers, 1918-2000: A Guide.
Botany Libraries, Arnold Arboretum Library (Cambridge), Harvard University.
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Botany Libraries, Arnold Arboretum Library (Cambridge), Harvard University Repository

The Harvard University Herbaria houses five research libraries that are managed collectively as the Botany Libraries. The Arnold Arboretum Library in Cambridge specializes in the identification and classification of Old World plants with emphasis on Asia. The Archives of the Arnold Arboretum (Cambridge) houses unique resources, primarily field notes related to the plant specimens housed in Cambridge.

Harvard University Herbaria
22 Divinity Ave
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-2366