Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: arn00011

Calvin Sperling field notebooks

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of three field notebooks from Sperling’s time as a graduate student at Harvard. The notes are for collections made in South America as well as in the United States and Canada.


  • 1980-1984


Conditions Governing Access

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


0.1 linear feet (3 volumes in file cabinet 11)

Biographical Note

Calvin Ross Sperling was born on February 7, 1957, in Farwell, Minnesota, to Clarence and Doris Sperling. He grew up on a dairy farm in Alexandria, Minnesota, and earned a B.S. in botany from North Dakota State University in 1979. He went on to complete M.S. and Ph.D. degrees at Harvard in 1981 and 1987, respectively.

Sperling’s career as a plant collector began as an undergraduate when he conducted a survey of Minnesota flora, collecting over 5,000 specimens. During his graduate studies he traveled to South America four times to collect specimens and conduct research. He also began working as a consultant for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1984 and went to Israel and Turkey to study wheat.

After completing his graduate studies Sperling accepted a position as a plant exploration officer with the National Plant Germplasm Resources Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland. He coordinated almost 100 collecting trips to locations in the United States and abroad and worked to integrate ethnobotanical research with agricultural exploration.

Despite his short career Sperling received several honors, including the Richard Evans Schultes Award for contributions to ethnobotany from the Healing Forest Conservancy in 1993 and the Frank N. Meyer Medal for Plant Genetic Resources from the USDA in 1995. Sperling married Debra Gilmore in 1989; they had one son, Carl. Sperling died of cancer on May 20, 1995.


Forsline PL. 2003. Dedication: Calvin R. Sperling. In: Horticultural Reviews: Wild Apple and Fruit Trees of Central Asia. New York: John Wiley and Sons; ix-x.


The provenance of this collection is unknown. The notebooks may have been left at Harvard by Sperling after he completed his doctorate.

Processing Information

Processed by Zachary Bodnar, 2017.

Sperling, Calvin, 1957-1995. Calvin Sperling field notebooks, 1980-1984: 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