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COLLECTION Identifier: arn00003

Charles Edward Faxon papers

Scope and content

The collection contains original artwork, published plates, and manuscript material. Artwork includes drawings and paintings of plants, animals, and scenery. Manuscript material consists of translations of portions of Julius Milde's 1869 “Botrychiorum Monographia.” Faxon's translations date from November 1876 and may have been made while he was in Europe.


  • circa 1860-1895


Conditions Governing Access

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


0.3 linear feet (6 folders, 1 oversize folder)

Biographical note

Charles Edward Faxon was born on January 21, 1846, to Elisha and Hannah Mann Faxon, in a part of Roxbury, Massachusetts, that later became Jamaica Plain. His interest in nature was fostered by his older brother Edwin, a naturalist. Charles was educated in public schools and at the Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard College, where he received a B.S. in civil engineering in 1867.

After college Faxon traveled to Europe for six months and worked in the family leather business for several years. In the late 1870’s Yale botanist, Daniel Cady Eaton, asked Faxon and his brothers to make collections for him. Faxon also contributed watercolor illustrations to Eaton’s Ferns of North America, published in two volumes in 1879 and 1880.

Faxon was instructor of botany at Harvard’s Bussey Institution from 1879 to 1884. He was appointed assistant director of the Arnold Arboretum by Charles Sprague Sargent in 1882. Faxon’s work at the Arboretum was primarily to create plates for Sargent’s publications, including the 14-volume Silva of North America. Faxon also managed the library and herbarium. He remained at the Arboretum until his death in Jamaica Plain on February 6, 1918.


Cattell JK. 1906. American Men of Science; a biographical directory. New York: Bowker.

Dosmann MS, Pearson LE. 2015. Charles Edward Faxon: Botanical Draftsman. Arnoldia (Jamaica Plain). 73(1):2-10.

Sargent CS. 1918. Charles Edward Faxon. Rhodora. 20(117):117-122.

Series description

The collection is divided into two series:

Series I. Translations of Botrychiorum Monographia

Series II. Artwork


The Faxon translations of Botrychiorum Monographia were given to Benjamin Lincoln Robinson by Mary Elizabeth Davenport in 1922. The provenance of the artwork in the collection is unknown.

Related Materials

Other related material at the Botany Libraries, Harvard University Herbaria
  1. Asa Gray correspondence files, 1832-1892
  2. Administrative correspondence of the Gray Herbarium and Harvard University Herbaria, 1890-1965
  3. Charles Edward Faxon watercolors, approximately 1880-1890
  4. Charles Edward Faxon watercolors of ferns, approximately 1877
  5. George Golding Kennedy papers
  6. George Edward Davenport papers

Processing Information

Processed by Lynn McWhood

December 1982

Faxon, Charles Edward, 1846-1918. Charles Edward Faxon papers, circa 1860-1895: 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
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