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COLLECTION Identifier: far00024

Arthur Bliss Seymour papers

Scope and content

This collection contains correspondence, notes, and research material relating to Seymour’s mycological work.


  • 1882-1933


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 (6 boxes)

Biographical note

Arthur Bliss Seymour was born on January 3, 1859, in Moline, Illinois, to Frank and Mary Seymour (née Bliss). His father died in 1864. The same year Seymour contracted scarlet fever, which left him partially deaf. After the death of his mother in 1870 Seymour was raised by relatives. He entered Illinois University in 1878 and studied under Thomas J. Burrill. Seymour graduated in 1881 and went to work collecting fungi for the Illinois Natural History Survey.

In the spring of 1883 Seymour moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to become temporary assistant to William Gilson Farlow at Harvard’s cryptogamic herbarium. He spent 1885-1886 teaching general botany at the University of Wisconsin and married Anna Julia Conkling at the end of the academic year. In June 1886 Seymour was awarded an M.S. from the University of Illinois. Later the same year he returned to Cambridge to accept a permanent appointment as assistant in the cryptogamic herbarium at Harvard.

Between 1889 and 1896, the Seymours had three daughters, Mary, Rosa, and Edith, and a son, Frank. Seymour was eager to involve his children in nature study. All four were engaged in collecting botanical specimens and Frank also went on to become a botanist.

Seymour taught botany at both Harvard and Radcliffe College and devoted his career to collecting data for Farlow’s mycological indexes. “A Provisional Host-Index of the Fungi of the United States” was published in three volumes between 1888 and 1891. The first volume of “Bibliographical Index of North American Fungi” was published in 1905. Seymour continued working on the index after Farlow’s death in 1919 but a second volume was never published. In 1929 Seymour released his own “Host Index of the Fungi of North America.” Anna Seymour died in 1932. Seymour died the following year on March 30 in Belmont, Massachusetts.


Jones LR. 1934. Arthur Bliss Seymour, 1859-1933. Mycologia. 26(4):279-290.

Series description

Series 1: Correspondence, 1892-1933.

This series contains correspondence between Seymour and other botanists discussing fungi research and the “Host Index,” dated 1892-1933. Prominent correspondents include Joseph Charles Arthur, George Perkins Clinton, John Jefferson Davis, John Dearness, Harry Morton Fitzpatrick, Calvin Henry Kauffman, Flora Wambaugh Patterson, and Perley Spaulding.

Series 2: Notes and Papers Pertaining to “Host Index of the Fungi of North America.”

This series contains page proofs, errata notes, notes on species and bibliographic references, printed copies of the “Host Index,” and other papers and notes.

Series 3: Research materials.

This series contains notes by Farlow and Seymour, one manuscript, one species list, and other unidentified papers.


The provenance of this collection is unknown.

Seymour, Arthur Bliss, 1859-1933. Arthur Bliss Seymour papers, 1882-1933: 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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