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COLLECTION Identifier: arn00002

Leonard John Brass papers

Scope and Content

The Brass collection is divided into three series.

The first series includes over 200 photographs from the Second Archbold New Guinea Expedition, 1936-1937. Most are of general vegetation; a few show native people and expedition members. Most of them are captioned and there are some duplicates.

The second series includes booklets of specimen labels from the Fourth Archbold New Guinea Expedition, 1953. There are 75 booklets covering collection numbers 21612 to 25166 with one booklet missing; a note in the old library catalog indicates the missing labels were for bryophytes. Information captured on the specimen labels includes collecting number, name, native name, locality, habitat, altitude, and date. The booklets originally contained carbon copies of each specimen label.

The third series includes maps, 1927-1944. The maps also have individual catalog records.


  • 1927-1953


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is available by appointment for research. Researchers must register and provide valid photo identification. Please contact for additional information.


2 linear feet (2 card files with photographs and field notebooks; 11 maps in Archives Map Case)


Leonard John Brass was born in Toowoomba, Queensland on May 27, 1900. He studied under Cyril Tenison White at the Queensland Herbarium and is best known for his collections in New Guinea. His work resulted in descriptions of dozens of new species and genera as well as a better understanding of the relationship between the floras of New Guinea and Australia.

Brass led an expedition to New Guinea to collect plants for the Arnold Arboretum from 1925-1926. He also collected for the Arboretum in the Solomon Islands in 1932 and took part in three expeditions to New Guinea co-sponsored by the Arboretum under the leadership of Richard Archbold in 1933-1934, 1936-1937, and 1938-1939. He was an associate curator of the Archbold collections at the American Museum of Natural History from 1939-1966.

Brass married Marie Christine Schiavone in 1943; she died of cancer in 1954. Brass continued to collect for the Arnold Arboretum, participating the Archbold Cape York Expedition to Australia in 1948 and the fourth Archbold Expedition to New Guinea in 1953. His collections from the fifth and sixth Archbold Expeditions to New Guinea in 1956-57 and 1959 were sent to the Rijksherbarium in Leiden, Netherlands, and to the U.S. National Herbarium in Washington, D.C., respectively.

Brass retired from the American Museum of Natural History in 1966 and returned to Australia. He died in Cairns, Queensland, on August 29, 1971.


Perry LM. 1971. Leonard J. Brass (1900-1971), an appreciation. J. Arnold Arbor. 52(4):695-698.

Van Deusen HM. 1971. In Memoriam. N. Queensland Naturalist. 39(156):2-3.

Series Description

There are three series in this collection.

Series I. Photographs from the Second Archbold New Guinea Expedition, 1936-1937; Series II: Field notebooks from the Fourth Archbold New Guinea Expedition, 1953; Series III. Maps, 1927-1944.


Brass might have deposited photographs and the field notebooks at the Arnold Arboretum because of the sponsorship of the second and fourth New Guinea expeditions. They were probably transferred later to the Harvard University Herbarium.

Related Materials

Other related material at the Botany Libraries, Harvard University Herbaria:

Administrative correspondence of the Gray Herbarium and Harvard University Herbaria, 1890-1965

Field notes and plant identification records, approximately 1804-2000

Processing Information

Processed by Lynn McWhood

February 1982

Brass, L. J. (Leonard J.). Leonard John Brass papers, 1927-1953: 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.

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