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COLLECTION Identifier: far00025

Ivan Mackenzie Lamb papers

Scope and Contents

This collection includes Ivan Mackenzie Lamb, later known as Elke Mackenzie, correspondence, field work papers, manuscripts, research notes, plant lists, financial records from travels and research, illustrations from Benthic Marine Algae of the Antarctic Peninsula, a logbook of dives, and photographs.


  • 1945-1977


Conditions Governing Access

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


6.5 linear feet (5 record cartons, 1 oversize box)

Biographical note

Ivan Mackenzie Lamb, later known as Elke Mackenzie, was born in London on September 10, 1911, and grew up in Scotland. Lamb was educated at the Edinburgh Academy and earned a B.Sc. from Edinburgh University in 1933. Lamb spent the next two years doing research at the Universities of Munich and Würzburg and in 1935 was appointed Assistant Keeper in the Department of Botany at the British Museum of Natural History under lichenologist Annie Lorrain Smith. The following year, Lamb married Maila Elvira Laabejo; the couple had two sons and a daughter.
From 1944-1946 Lamb worked as a botanist with the British expedition to the Antarctic known as “Operation Tabarin.” Lamb was the recipient of both the British and U.S. Polar Medals. After returning from Europe, Lamb accepted a teaching position at Instituto Lilloa in Tucumán, Argentina. He traveled and collected extensively in Argentina and parts of Brazil during his time in South America. After four years Lamb and his family relocated to Ottawa, Canada, where he worked as a cryptogamic botanist for the Canadian National Museum. In 1953 Lamb was offered the directorship of the Farlow Library and Herbarium and moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Lamb returned to Antarctica in 1960 to visit McMurdo Station and again in 1964 to study marine algae with a grant from the National Science Foundation. He spent the next three years traveling and researching in Europe and Central America. Lamb separated from his wife and was given sabbatical leave in 1971 to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Lamb changed her name to Elke Mackenzie and retired from Harvard in 1972. She moved to Costa Rica in 1976 and returned to Cambridge four years later. Mackenzie died in Braintree, Massachusetts, on January 27, 1990.

Llano GA. 1991. I. Mackenzie Lamb, D.Sc. (Elke Mackenzie) (1911-1990). Bryologist 94(3):315-319.

Series Description

The collection is divided into 8 series
  1. Series I. Correspondence: primarily pertaining to botanical research and directorship of the Farlow Library and Herbarium. Most letters dated 1950-1973. Arranged alphabetically by sender’s last name and sometimes by institution.
  2. Series II. Travel: papers pertaining to field work and trips. Contains correspondence, notes, lists, expense records, and maps, dated 1957-1969. Includes papers relating to Venezuelan Algological Field Seminars.
  3. Series III. Manuscripts, notes, and plant lists: primarily pertaining to West Antarctica botanical survey.
  4. Series IV. Grants and funded projects: correspondence, receipts, invoices, transaction records and manuscripts related to NSF Grant GB-4503 on Stereocaulaceae; NSF Grant G-7100 on Growth Regulation in Sporophores of Higher Fungi (Hymenomycetes) at the Farlow Herbarium; and NSF grant proposals for the publication of A New Index of Lichens and Index Nominum Lichenum. Also includes correspondence with American Academy of Sciences about funding for Stereocaulaceae monograph and certificate about Lamb’s election to the Academy, 1956.
  5. Series V. Financial records: relating to Lamb’s administration of the Farlow Herbarium and from his trips to Europe and Antarctica, 1964-1968.
  6. Subseries A. Correspondence, 1956-1965
  7. Subseries B. Travel, 1960
  8. Subseries C. Grants and projects, 1958-1965
  9. Subseries D. Manuscripts, notes, lists, 1948-1960, undated
  10. Subseries E. Photographs, 1960, undated
  11. Subseries F. Printed material and miscellaneous papers, 1945-1959, undated
  12. Series VII. Illustrations for Benthic Marine Algae of the Antarctic Peninsula: contains a chart, map, illustrations, glass plate negatives, and photographs.
  13. Series VIII. Miscellaneous: contains a logbook of trips and dives, and a small number of photographs, negatives, and slides.


The Lamb papers were retained at Harvard after Lamb’s retirement.
Lamb, I. Mackenzie (Ivan Mackenzie). Ivan Mackenzie Lamb papers, 1945-1977: A Guide.
Archives, Farlow Reference Library of Cryptogamic Botany, Harvard University Herbaria
Description rules

Repository Details

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

Harvard University Herbaria
22 Divinity Ave
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-2366