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COLLECTION Identifier: far00022

Rolf Singer papers

Scope and Content

The Singer collection consists of correspondence, handwritten and typed manuscript material, notes, and receipts pertaining to Rolf Singer’s work as a mycologist. The bulk of the materials is from Singer's time at Harvard in the 1940s.


  • 1923-1954
  • 1941-1948


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 collection (4 boxes, 1 oversize folder)

Biographical Note

Rolf Singer was born June 23, 1906, in Schliersee, Germany to Albert and Eva Singer (née Hennicke). He attended school in Pasing and Amberg before studying chemistry at the University of Munich. He continued his studies under Richard von Wettstein at the University of Vienna and received a Ph.D. in 1931.

Singer returned to Munich but fled Nazi Germany shortly after. He went to Vienna, where he met and married Martha Kupfer in 1933; they went on to have one daughter, Amparo Heidi, in 1935. The couple moved to Spain and Singer worked as assistant professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona for a year before being arrested by Spanish authorities on the request of the Nazis. He avoided extradition to Germany and went instead to France to work at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris. In 1935 he was offered a research position at the Botanical Garden of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R. in Leningrad.

During his time at the Academy, Singer made several expeditions to Siberia, the Caucasus and Altai Mountains, and Karelia. Singer and his family emigrated to the United States in 1941, shortly before the start of the siege of Leningrad. He was offered a position as assistant curator at the Farlow Herbarium and eventually became acting curator when David Hunt Linder died in 1946.

In 1948 Singer accepted a professorship at the Universidad Nacional de Tucumán in Argentina. He stayed in that position until 1960 when he left to head the biology department at the University of Buenos Aires. Singer made extensive collections during his time in South America, often accompanied by his wife and daughter. He and his family moved to Chicago in 1968. His final faculty appointment was at the University of Illinois, Chicago from 1968 to 1977. He concurrently held a position as a resident research associate at the Field Museum.

Singer was responsible for nearly 400 publications. He was an expert on the Agaricales and was known for his eagerness to aid other botanists, both professionals and amateurs. He was awarded honorary degrees from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland and the University of Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil and received the Distinguished Mycologist award from the Mycological Society of America in 1986. Singer died on January 18, 1994.


Mueller GM. 1995. Rolf Singer, 1906-1994. Mycologia. 87(1):144-147. Singer M. 1979. Glancing Back. Sydowia. 8:14-25.

Series Description

The collection is divided into four series.

Series I-Correspondence. 47 folders of correspondence, dated 1923-1954; arranged chronologically by date; correspondence from Walter Snell, Roger Heim, and Constance Ashenden in separate folders.

Series II-Manuscript material. 11 folders of handwritten and typed manuscript material pertaining to Singer's publications.

Series III-Notes. 18 folders of general notes and lecture notes from Harvard classes taught by Singer.

Series IV-Miscellanea. 1 folder of clippings, certificates, receipts, advertisements, and related correspondence.


The provenance of this collection is unknown.

Related Materials

Other related material at the Botany Libraries, Harvard University Herbaria: David Hunt Linder papers.


Singer, Rolf. Rolf Singer papers, 1923-1954, bulk 1941-1948: 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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