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COLLECTION Identifier: far00035

Letters to Moses Ashley Curtis

Scope and Contents

This collection contains letters to Moses Ashley Curtis dated 1859-1868. Correspondents are Elliot Calvin Howe, Ezra Michener, and Henry William Ravenel.


  • 1859-1868


Conditions Governing Access

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


0.1 linear feet (3 folders in shared box)

Biographical note

Moses Ashley Curtis was born May 11, 1808 in Stockbridge, Massachusetts to Jared Curtis and Thankful Ashley. Curtis graduated from Williams College in 1827. While at Williams he studied with Professor Chester Dewey who was the chair of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy and professor Amos Eaton who instructed on the natural sciences.

In 1830 Curtis moved to Wilmington North Carolina where he was the tutor for the family of Edward B. Dudley. During the early 1830s he botanized in North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina. In May 1835 he published a report of the plants in the Wilmington area in the Journal of the Boston Society of Natural History where he described 1,031 species.

In 1833 Curtis began studying theology with Reverend William Crosswell, rector of the Church of the Advent in Boston, and was ordained a Priest on May 26, 1839 in Christ Church, Raleigh, North Carolina. On December 3, 1834 he married Mary Jane de Rossett in Wilmington, North Carolina. They had ten children.Throughout his career Curtis was a teacher, missionary, and rector all the while continuing to botanize and publish botanical and mycological works.

Curtis frequently communicated with leading botanists including Asa Gray, H.W. Ravenel, William S. Sullivant, and Edward Tuckerman. Around 1846 he began to focus on studying fungi. In addition to publishing journal articles Curtis authored several books including A Catalogue of the Plants of the State, With Descriptions and History of the Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines (Raleigh, 1860); A Catalogue of the Indigenous and Naturalized Plants of the State (Raleigh, 1867); and The Woods and Timbers of North Carolina (Raleigh, 1883).

Curtis died in Hillsboro on April 10, 1872.

Powell, William Stevens (1958). Moses Ashley Curtis, 1808-1872: teacher, priest, scientist. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Library.

Powell, William Stevens (1979). Moses Ashley Curtis. Dictionary of North Carolina Biography.


The M.A. Curtis herbarium was purchased by William Gilson Farlow. These letters may have been in the herbarium and were likley transferred to the library.

Processing Information

Processing note Letters were previously cataloged by individual correspondent and housed with rare books. E.C. Howe letter previous call number H854; E. Michener letter previous call number M6237; H.W. Ravenal letters previous call number R253.

In 2019 they were combined into an archival collection.
Processing Information Processed by Danielle Castronovo, 2019.
Link to catalog
Letters to Moses Ashley Curtis, 1859-1868: 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

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