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COLLECTION Identifier: ecb00010

Caroline D. Murdoch original water-colors: Flowers of woodlands


Decorative title page and 103 watercolor paintings of wild flowers by Caroline Murdoch for Caroline L.W. French.


  • 1867-1903

Physical Description

Paintings originally housed in two albums. Paintings detached from albums and stored in one box. Albums boxed separately.

"Flowers of woodlands" embossed in gold on the front cover of one album. The album is leather. The back cover is embossed "C.L.W.F 1868" in gold, (33 x 43 cm). "For Miss French" that is Caroline L. W. French. Album includes a three page index of plates numbered 1-50. Individual plates are not numbered.

"C.L.W.F" is embossed in gold on the cover of the other album (32 x 43 cm). The album has a leather spine and corners.

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.


0.5 linear feet (2 flat boxes) : 104 sheets and two original bindings ; 19 x 23 cm to 24.5 x 31 cm

This collection contains one decorative title page and 103 watercolor paintings of flowers made by Caroline Murdoch for Caroline L.W. French. The paintings are dated from 1867-1869. Also includes two small printed gift labels and two original bindings.

The scientific name is often written on the recto of the painting in black ink or in pencil on the verso. Common names are sometimes included. Corrected or supplied names that were added by library staff appear in square brackets. Several paintings bear Murdoch’s signature and several contain sketches on reverse. Some paintings attributed to Miss French.

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.

Sources: 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.


Caroline L.W. French bequeathed her collection of Murdoch’s paintings to George Lincoln Goodale in May 1903. The collection includes a printed gift label: Original water-colors. The gift of Miss C.L.W. French, May, 1903, Boston.

Gift acknowledged by George Lincoln Goodale in the Botanic Garden section (page 228) in the Harvard University. Annual reports of the President and Treasurer of Harvard College for 1902-1903.

Related Materials

Other related material at the Botany Libraries, Harvard University Herbaria: Caroline D. Murdoch illustrations of wild flowers from the eastern United States, circa 1860s. ecb00009. Archives of the Economic Botany Herbarium of Oakes Ames, Harvard University.

Variant title

Collection also known as: Original water-colors: Flowers of woodlands, 1867-1903.

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 original water-colors: Flowers of woodlands, 1867-1903: 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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