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COLLECTION Identifier: far00011

Clarence Alonzo Cheever papers

Scope and Content

The Cheever collection contains correspondence, notes, manuscript material, diatom samples, and published plates pertaining to Cheever’s lifelong study of diatoms. There are also materials from Joseph Parker Wintringham, William B. Terry (regarding his father, William Almeron Terry), J.B. Wheeler, Edwin A. Schultze, and Adolf Wilhelm Ferdinand Schmidt.

The bulk of Cheever's Diatom Herbarium consists of over 10,000 prepared slides, representing over two hundred genera and thousands of species. The Herbarium also contains 500 vials each of Terry’s and Frederick Habirshaw’s cleaned and dried diatoms.

The Cheever collection also contains a copy of A.W.F. Schmidt's “Atlas der Diatomaceen-Kunde” through Tafel (plate) 336; an extensive card index to species, collection localities, and diatom literature; and several of Cheever's notebooks.


  • 1878-1939


Conditions Governing Access

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


1.25 linear feet (1 record carton)


Clarence Alonzo Cheever was born on July 30, 1858 in Wrentham, Massachusetts, to Alonzo Williams and Elizabeth Read Cheever. He graduated from Harvard with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science in 1881 and continued his studies at the medical school, earning his M.D. two years later. He married Marion Hawkes in 1883; the couple had one son, Austin Walter, born in 1887.

Cheever first became interested in diatoms as an undergraduate student of William Gilson Farlow at Harvard’s Bussey Institute. Despite choosing medicine as a career, he retained an interest in botany throughout his life and amassed an extensive collection of diatoms, mainly through purchases.

Cheever was a member of the New England Botanical Club and served as editor of The New England Farmer for many years. He died in Boston on December 31, 1946.


[Harvard University.] 1915. Quinquennial Catalogue of the Officers and Graduates of Harvard University, 1636-1915. Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press.

Federal Population Census Records, National Archives and Records Administration. Vital Records, Massachusetts Archives.

Series Description

This collection is arranged into seven series: Series I. Correspondence, 1901-1939; Series II. Notes, including working notes from the paper "Notes on Some New and Rare Diatoms"; Series III. Manuscripts, approximately 1878; Series IV. Samples, diatoms and fossils; Series V. Lists, Catalogs, and accompanying letters regarding diatoms; Series VI. Reprints; Series VII. Plates from Schmidt's “Atlas der Diatomaceen-Kunde.”


Cheever gave his Diatom Herbarium and accompanying archives to the Farlow Herbarium in two separate gifts in 1941 and 1943. The remainder of his papers were donated by his son, Austin, in 1953.

Related Materials

Other related material at the Botany Libraries, Harvard University Herbaria: William Almeron Terry correspondence; George Albert Fisher diatom papers.

Cheever, Clarence A., 1858-1946. Clarence Alonzo Cheever papers, 1878-1939: A Guide.
Botany Libraries, Farlow Reference Library of Cryptogamic Botany, Harvard University.
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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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