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COLLECTION Identifier: far00053

William Henry Weston papers

Scope and Content

Collection consists of correspondence, handwritten manuscript material by Weston and others, reprints, student theses, photographs, drawings, lantern slides, glass plate negatives, and audiovisual materials. The bulk of the materials were collected during Weston's time at Harvard (1921-1960), with additional materials relating to his activities after his retirement.


  • 1881-1978
  • Majority of material found in 1918-1978


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research by appointment with the following exceptions: Personnel and student records are closed for 80 years. Records may need to be evaluated by archives staff in advance.

Researchers must register and provide one form of valid photo identification. Please contact for additional information.


13 linear feet (3 record cartons, 17 glass plate negative and lantern slide boxes, 1 oversize flat box, 1 bound volume, 1 card file, 1 envelope with medal, 1 box of audio and video, 7 film reels )

Biographical note

William Henry Weston was born in New York, N.Y., in 1890 and died in Massachusetts in August 1978. He received a B.A. degree from Dartmouth College in 1911, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1912 and 1915. At Harvard, he studied under mycologist Roland Thaxter. He spent several years working at Western Reserve University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but returned to Harvard in 1921 as an assistant professor of botany. Weston, known as "Cap" to both colleagues and graduate students, would remain an instructor in the department until his retirement in 1960. He was appointed professor of cryptogamic botany in 1928 and was the chairman of the department of botany from 1927 to 1932. He was beloved by his graduate students as a humorous and inspiring teacher. Weston's skill at teaching is honored with the Mycological Society of America's William H. Weston Award for Excellence in Teaching, established in 1979.

After his retirement from Harvard in 1960, Weston continued teaching. He worked for several years with the Elementary Science Study of Educational Services (a program for grade-school children), and also hosted a science television program for children.

Weston's expertise was also in demand from sources outside of Harvard. He consulted for corporations and also for the Quartermaster Corps of the United States Army. For his work with the Army, Weston was given the Civilian Distinguished Service Award in 1962.

Weston was the first president of the Mycological Society of America, a fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Botanical Society of America, the American Phytopathological Society, and president of the New England Botanical Club from 1931-1933.


Pfister, Donald H. "Who was Cap Weston?" Inoculum 51, no. 6 (2000).

Pfister, Donald H., Rolla M. Tryon, Ralph E. Wetmore, Carroll M. Williams, and Reed C. Rollins. "William H. Weston [Faculty of Arts & Sciences Memorial Minute]." Harvard Gazette, 16 January 1981, 7.

Wilson, Charles M. "William H. Weston (1890-1978)." Mycologia 71, no. 6 (1979): 1103-1106.


The collection is arranged into twelve series.

  1. Series I: Correspondence, 1916 to 1977.
  2. Series II: Notes. Notes are by Weston or his students.
  3. Series III: Drawings. Drawings are non-scientific and include block print designs by Weston.
  4. Series IV: Photographs. Images are of Weston,Thaxter, Long Island, and specimens.
  5. Series V: Manuscript material. Materials are by Weston and by others.
  6. Series VI: Publications. Publications are by Weston and others.
  7. Series VII: Miscellaneous. Elementary Science Study materials, materials relating to William Gilson Farlow and Thaxter, financial records, materials relating to a Thaxter memorial, meeting programs and abstracts, advertisements and flyers, mail, and miscellaneous materials.
  8. Series VIII: Photographic plates. Plates of Thaxter and G.R. Lyman.
  9. Series IX: Oversize materials. Includes drawings, photographs, glass slides, and a commemorative volume presented to Weston in 1956 by his former students.
  10. Series X: Student theses. 18 bound student theses,1935-1949.
  11. Series XI: Lantern slides and glass plate negatives
  12. Series XII: Audiovisual materials.


Some materials were left in Dr. Weston's office in the Herbarium. The remainder were given to the Farlow Herbarium by Mrs. Weston after William Weston's death.

Processing Information

The original finding aid included series 1-10. The date of that finding aid was not recorded.

In November 2021, Danielle Castronovo updated the finding aid by adding: Series XI lantern slides and glass plate negatives; and Series XII audiovisual materials. Some dates and descriptions were also updated.

Weston, William H. (William Henry), 1890-1978. William Henry Weston papers, 1881-1978, bulk 1918-1978: A Guide.
Botany Libraries, Farlow Reference Library of Cryptogamic Botany, Harvard University.
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Botany Libraries, Farlow Reference Library of Cryptogamic Botany, Harvard University Repository

The Harvard University Herbaria houses five research libraries that are managed collectively as the Botany Libraries. The Farlow Reference Library of Cryptogamic Botany specializes in organisms that reproduce by spores, without flowers or seeds. The Archives of the Farlow Herbarium of Cryptogamic Botany 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 Farlow Herbarium.

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