Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: far00025

Elke Mackenzie papers

Scope and Contents

This collection includes Elke Mackenzie's 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 open for research by appointment with the following exceptions: Harvard University records are restricted for 50 years; Harvard personnel and student records are closed for 80 years. Some restrictions have been noted in the finding aid. Other records may need to be evaluated by archives staff in advance.

  1. Box 1, Folder 114: Culberson, William and Chicita F., 1956-1963 is restricted for 80 years.
  2. Box 3, Folder 61: Methyl Bromide Case (Mrs. Lamb v. Harvard), 1961-1963 is restricted for 80 years.


6.7 linear feet (5 record cartons, 1 half width document box, 1 flat oversize box)

Biographical note

Elke Mackenzie, formerly Ivan Mackenzie Lamb, was born in London on September 10, 1911, and grew up in Scotland. She was educated at the Edinburgh Academy and earned a B.Sc. from Edinburgh University in 1933. Mackenzie 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.

From 1944-1946 Mackenzie worked as a botanist with the British expedition to the Antarctic known as “Operation Tabarin.” She was the recipient of both the British and U.S. Polar Medals. After returning from Europe, she accepted a teaching position at Instituto Lilloa in Tucumán, Argentina. Mackenzie traveled and collected extensively in Argentina and parts of Brazil during her time in South America. After four years Mackenzie relocated to Ottawa, Canada, where she worked as a cryptogamic botanist for the Canadian National Museum. In 1953 Mackenzie was offered the directorship of the Farlow Library and Herbarium and moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Mackenzie 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. She spent the next three years traveling and researching in Europe and Central America.

Mackenzie was given sabbatical leave in January 1972 to undergo gender affirmation surgery. She changed her name from Ivan Mackenzie Lamb to Elke Mackenzie and retired from Harvard December 31, 1973. Mackenzie's scientific work, including publications and specimen collecting, was mostly done under the name Ivan Lamb.

Mackenzie had married Maila Elvira Laabejo in 1936 and they had two sons and a daughter. The couple separated in 1971. Mackenzie moved to Costa Rica in 1976 and returned to Cambridge four years later. Mackenzie died in Braintree, Massachusetts, on January 27, 1990.


Harvard University. Report of the President of Harvard College and reports of departments. 1973-1974. Farlow Library and Herbarium, page 512. Accessed 15 July 2021.

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 Mackenzie’s election to the Academy, 1956.
  5. Series V. Financial records: relating to Mackenzie’s administration of the Farlow Herbarium and from her trips to Europe and Antarctica, 1964-1968.
  6. Series VI. Antarctica Papers: materials related to Mackenzie’s Antarctica research, dated 1956-1960. The series is further divided into six subseries:
  7. Subseries A. Correspondence, 1956-1965
  8. Subseries B. Travel, 1960
  9. Subseries C. Grants and projects, 1958-1965
  10. Subseries D. Manuscripts, notes, lists, 1948-1960, undated
  11. Subseries E. Photographs, 1960, undated
  12. Subseries F. Printed material and miscellaneous papers, 1945-1959, undated
  13. Series VII. Illustrations for Benthic Marine Algae of the Antarctic Peninsula: contains a chart, map, illustrations, glass plate negatives, and photographs.
  14. Series VIII. Miscellaneous: contains a logbook of trips and dives, and a small number of photographs, negatives, and slides.


The Mackenzie papers were retained at Harvard after Mackenzie's retirement.

General note

In June 2021, the collection title was change to the Elke Mackenzie papers from the Ivan Mackenzie Lamb papers.

Mackenzie, Elke, 1911-1990. Elke Mackenzie papers, 1945-1977: 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.

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