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COLLECTION Identifier: gra00009

Arthur Stanley Pease botanical correspondence

Scope and Content

The Pease correspondence consist of about 775 letters to Pease sent between 1895 and 1947, primarily pertaining to Pease’s work as an amateur botanist.


  • Creation: 1895-1947


Conditions Governing Use

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


0.5 linear feet (Approximately 775 letters in 25 folders)


Arthur Stanley Pease was a classics scholar with an avid interest in botany. He was born in Somers, Connecticut on September 22, 1881 to Theodore Claudius and Abbie Frances Pease. He studied at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts before enrolling at Harvard to study classics. He earned B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in 1902, 1903, and 1905, respectively. Pease married Henrietta Faxon in June 1909; they had one daughter, also named Henrietta, born in 1912.

Pease spent one year at the American School for Classical Studies in Rome before returning to Harvard to teach in the Classics Department from 1906-1909. He taught at the University of Illinois from 1909-1924 and at Amherst College from 1924-1927. In 1927 he was elected president of Amherst College. He resigned after five years and returned to Harvard in 1932 where he continued teaching until his retirement in 1950.

Pease became interested in plants at an early age and studied the flora of the White Mountains during summers at his family’s home in Randolph, New Hampshire. He was an outstanding amateur field botanist and accompanied Merritt Lyndon Fernald on a number of botanical expeditions in Canada, including trips in 1904 to the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec, 1920 to Nova Scotia, 1923 and 1933 to Mount Logan in the southwestern Yukon, and 1925 to northern Newfoundland.

Pease’s “Vascular Flora of Coos County, New Hampshire” was published in “Proceedings of the Boston Society of Natural History” in 1924. A revised edition of the flora was published by the New England Botanical Club in 1964 as ”A Flora of Northern New Hampshire.” A collection of Pease’s essays, including anecdotes of his collecting trips, entitled ”Sequestered Vales of Life” was published in 1946. Pease also collaborated with Richard Evans Schultes on ”Generic Names of Orchids: Their Origin and Meaning,” published in 1963, and wrote a number of botanical articles in addition to his considerable publications on classical languages and literature.

In 1912 Pease gave his herbarium of 12,000 specimens to the Gray Herbarium and the New England Botanical Club; he continued to make regular gifts thereafter. He died on January 7, 1964.


Bean RC. 1964. Arthur Stanley Pease. Rhodora. 66(765):3-5.

Elder JP, Greene WC, Gunmere RM, McCord DTW, Hammond, M. 1965. Arthur Stanley Pease, 1881-1964. Harvard Stud. Class. P. 69:9-11.

Fernald ML. 1927. Arthur Stanley Pease. Botanist, Explorer, and Mountaineer. Amherst Graduates’ Quarterly. 16:267-270.

Fernald ML. 1951. Arthur Stanley Pease, the Botanical Explorer. Harvard Stud. Class. P. 40:11-21.

Alumni Council of Amherst College. 1927. The New President. Amherst Graduates’ Quarterly. 16:262-263.

Series Description

The Pease correspondence is divided into two series:

Series I. Correspondence by Year (1901-1947)

Comprises around 400 letters from about 135 correspondents, both professional and amateur botanists, pertaining to Pease's botanical work. Correspondence is arranged chronologically. There are up to 23 letters per year, with a greater number of letters written in later years. No correspondence from 1906 exists.

Series II. Correspondence by Sender (1895-1946)

Comprises around 375 letters from five correspondents pertaining to Pease's botanical work. Correspondence is divided by sender and arranged chronologically: Albert LeRoy Andrews (1878-1961), Rev. John Mallory Bates (1846-1930), Walter Deane (1848-1930), Merritt Lyndon Fernald (1873-1950), and Frances Laetitia Knowlton (1832-1924). Letters from Fernald pertain to collecting trips in Canada, including to the Gaspé Peninsula.


Pease gave his botanical correspondence to the Gray Herbarium in March 1948.

Related Materials

Administrative correspondence of the Gray Herbarium and Harvard University Herbaria, 1890-1965

Botany Libraries Photograph Collection

James Franklin Collins papers

Merritt Lyndon Fernald papers

Walter Deane papers

General note

The finding aid was updated in July 2019. Additional letters were found in the collection and added to the finding aid. One letter on the original finding aid from Francis Welles Hunnewell (1928) was not found. The description of that letter was removed from the finding aid.

Processed by

Lynn McWhood, November 1981. Rehoused in 2017. Finding aid updated by Catherine Adam, July 2019.

Pease, Arthur Stanley, 1881-1964. Arthur Stanley Pease botanical correspondence, 1895-1947: A Guide.
Botany Libraries, Gray Herbarium Library, Harvard University.
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Botany Libraries, Gray Herbarium Library, Harvard University Repository

The Harvard University Herbaria houses five research libraries that are managed collectively as the Botany Libraries. The Gray Herbarium Library specializes in the identification and classification of New World plants with emphasis on North American plants. The Archives of the Gray Herbarium 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 Gray Herbarium.

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