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COLLECTION Identifier: ecb00009

Caroline D. Murdoch illustrations of wild flowers from the eastern United States


This collection contains watercolor paintings of wild flowers by Caroline D. Murdoch.


  • circa 1860s

Physical Description

The paintings were detached from an original album (33 x 43 cm).

Lacking plates 6, 15, 21, 27, 28, 30, 50, 61, and 62.

Items 18-20, 31, 38, 39, 41, 45, 49, 57, and 63 are embossed with "Reynolds' abraded surface drawing board".

Conditions Governing Access

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


0.6 linear feet (2 flat boxes) : 73 leaves of color illustrations, exhibit labels, original binding, and documentation ; 19 x 23 cm to 27 x 36 cm

The collection contains 73 watercolors of wild flowers from the eastern United States painted by Caroline D. Murdoch. Each of the paintings is accompanied by a corresponding descriptive card which was previously framed with the painting. Collection title taken from exhibit label.

Includes presentation letter from John Murdoch to George Lincoln Goodale dated October 16, 1906. Gift label reads: "Water-color paintings done by Mrs. C.D. Murdock [sic] presented to the Botanical Museum by John Murdock [sic], 1906." Also includes letter from Caroline L.W. French to George Lincoln Goodale dated March 23, 1907, to make an appointment to see Mrs. Murdock's [sic] paintings and with a donation of $100.

Biographical note

Caroline Murdoch was born Caroline Dorcas Smith in 1817 to parents William and Caroline Smith. She was educated at a private girls’ school started by Joseph Hale Abbot. There she befriended Caroline Healey Dall who went on to become a reformer and transcendentalist. Dall and Murdoch remained in contact throughout their lives.

Murdoch returned to Abbot’s school as a drawing teacher. She also taught private lessons. She married Joseph Murdoch, the son of a wealthy plantation owner in Cuba, in 1844. They lived in Roxbury. They had one son and five daughters, the youngest of whom, Helen Messinger Murdoch, became a well-known photographer.

Murdoch was predeceased by her husband in 1884. She died in Boston on September 5, 1902.


Cheney ED. 1902. Reminiscences of Ednah Dow Cheney (Born Littlehale). Boston (MA): Lee and Shepard.

Dall CWH. 1900. Alongside. Boston (MA): Thomas Todd.

Hale EE. 1908. Captain Joseph Murdoch of Company G. In: Mann, AW. History of the Forty-fifth Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteer Militia. Boston (MA): W. Spooner. p. 204-206.

Vital Statistic Records, Massachusetts Archives.


Painting are arranged by item number.

Item titles and numbers taken directly from accompanying exhibit labels and written in pencil on back of each painting by library staff. Titles are comprised of scientific name followed by common name in parentheses. Corrected scientific names are in square brackets and were supplied by library staff.


This collection was gifted to the Harvard University Botanical Museum in 1906 by John Murdoch. The paintings were framed and exhibited in the museum. They were later removed from their frames and transferred to the archives of the Economic Botany Library.

Related Materials

Other related material at the Botany Libraries, Harvard University Herbaria: Caroline D. Murdoch original water-colors: Flowers of woodlands, 1867-1903. ecb00010. Archives of the Economic Botany Herbarium of Oakes Ames, Harvard University.

Variant title

The former name of the collection was taken from an exhibit label: Illustrations of a few wild flowers from eastern United States, circa 1860.

Digitization note

Digitized by Harvard College Library Digital Imaging Group as part of the Original Botanical Illustrations in the Combined Collections of the Botany Libraries.

Murdoch, C. D. (Caroline Dorcas), 1817-1902. Caroline D. Murdoch illustrations of wild flowers from the eastern United States, circa 1860s: A Guide.
Botany Libraries, Economic Botany Library of Oakes Ames, Harvard University.
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Botany Libraries, Economic Botany Library of Oakes Ames, Harvard University Repository

The Harvard University Herbaria houses five research libraries that are managed collectively as the Botany Libraries.The Economic Botany Library specializes in materials related to economic botany or the commercial exploitation of plants. The Archives of the Economic Botany Herbarium of Oakes Ames houses unique resources including personal papers, institutional records, field notes and plant lists, expedition records, photographs, original artwork, and objects from faculty, curators, staff, and affiliates of the Economic Botany Herbarium.

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