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COLLECTION Identifier: far00037

Joseph Bridgham papers


This collection contains correspondence sent to Joseph Bridgham requesting commissions of scientific illustrations relating to botany, entomology, and natural history.


  • 1886-1906
  • Majority of material found within 1897-1899


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.

Some materials are fragile and may need special handling.


0.21 linear feet (1 box)
This collection primarily consists of correspondence sent to Joseph Bridgham requesting botanical and entomological illustrations. The bulk of the commissions Bridgham received from 1897 to 1899 were from botanists Elizabeth G. Britton and George F. Atkinson, paleontologist George K. Greene, and naturalist Clarence M. Weed. Other materials include preliminary sketches, financial records, and individual letters.

Biographical / Historical

Joseph Bridgham was born in New York City on October 15, 1845, to Samuel and Eliza Ann Bridgham (née Fales). He was educated at private schools and graduated from Brown University in 1867. He went on to study architecture and worked as an architect for several years. Bridgham married Florence Madeleine Jenckes in 1870; the couple lived in Rhode Island and had three children.

Entomology was a pastime Bridgham shared with his mother. He joined the American Entomological Society in 1863 and amassed a collection of over 30,000 insects. His interest in natural history eventually led him to give up architecture to pursue nature illustration full time. Bridgham was known for his renderings of microscopic images.

Much of Bridgham's work was commissioned by universities and scientific institutions. He contributed over 40 plates to Alpheus Spring Packard’s monograph on bombycine moths, produced a set of illustrations of North American flowers and mosses for Columbia College in New York, and frequently worked with the Smithsonian Institution. From 1889 to 1899 Bridgham worked with Harvard professor William Gilson Farlow, preparing illustrations and frequently accompanying Farlow on field excursions to collect specimens for his monograph on the fungi of North America.

Bridgham died on April 12, 1915, at his home in East Providence, Rhode Island. The Bridgham’s brocade moth, Oligia bridghamii, is named for him.

American Historical Society. 1916. New England families: genealogical and memorial, Vol. 2. New York (NY): American Historical Society.

Bridgham SW. 1896. From our chapters: ten years of good work. Observer. 7(5):264-265.

Corresponding secretary. 1896. List of members of the American Entomological Society of Philadelphia, PA. Trans. Amer. Entomol. Soc. 23(1):i-viii.

Farlow WG, Burt EA. 1929. Icones Farlowianae: illustrations of the larger fungi of eastern North America. Cambridge (MA): Farlow Library and Herbarium of Harvard University.

Walton WR. 1921. Entomological drawings and draughtsmen: their relation to the development of economic entomology in the United States. Proc. Entomol. Soc. Wash. 23(4):69-100.


The collection is organized into nine folders arranged alphabetically by sender last name. When possible, correspondence is arranged in chronological order within folders.


The Museum of Comparative Zoology gifted the collection to the Harvard University Herbaria in 2014.

Related Materials

Other related material at the Botany Libraries, Harvard University Herbaria: Icones Farlowianae watercolor illustrations, 1889-1912.

Processing Information

Processed by Catherine Adam, 2019 July.
Link to catalog
Bridgham, Joseph, 1845-1915. Joseph Bridgham papers, 1886-1906, bulk 1897-1899: A Guide.
Botany Libraries, Farlow Reference Library of Cryptogamic Botany, Harvard University.
2019 July
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

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

Harvard University Herbaria
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