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COLLECTION Identifier: gra00049

Lewis David von Schweinitz manuscript and biographical sketch

Scope and Content:

The Schweinitz collection consists of a manuscript list of plants by Schweinitz entitled "Index Phaenogamicae Herbarii" and a copy of a biographical sketch of Schweinitz by R. Walter Johnson. The sketch was read before the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia on May 12, 1835. The copy was made by Eugene Abraham Rau in December 1885. A letter from Rau to Asa Gray accompanies the sketch.


  • 1821-1886


Conditions Governing Access

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


0.1 linear feet (2 folders)

Biographical Note

Lewis David von Schweinitz was born on February 13, 1780, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to Moravian parents Hans Christian Alexander von Schweinitz and Dorothea Elizabeth de Watteville. Schweinitz attended the Moravian school Nazareth Hall until his family returned to Germany in 1798. He then entered the theological seminary in Niesky, Germany, and studied under Johannes Baptista von Albertini.

Schweinitz graduated from the seminary in 1801 and began teaching at the Moravian school in Niesky. He was later a minister and teacher in Gnadenberg. After his ordination as deacon in 1808 Schweinitz moved to Gnadau, where he remained until being appointed administrator of the Church Estates in North Carolina. He married Louisa Amelia le Doux and traveled with his wife to Salem, North Carolina, stopping first in Pennsylvania.

Schweinitz remained in Salem for most of the next decade, collecting botanical specimens in the course of his administrative duties. He also began corresponding and exchanging specimens with American and European botanists, notably John Torrey. At the end of 1817 Schweinitz traveled with his family to Germany to attend the synod of the Moravian Church in Herrnhut and spent most of the following year in Europe. He took with him a list of North Carolina fungi to give to botanist Christian Friedrich Schwägrichen. The list was published as “Synopsis fungorum Carolinae superioris” in 1822.

Schweinitz returned to Salem with his family and in 1821 was appointed senior pastor at Bethlehem. He continued his botanical studies and published several articles on North American fungi. He also traveled several times on ecclesiastical business. The trips enabled him to botanize in new areas, but weakened his health. He died on February 8, 1834, after a prolonged period of declining health. He bequeathed his personal herbarium to the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.


Rogers DP. 1977. L. D. de Schweinitz and early American mycology. Mycologia 69(2):223-245.


The Schweinitz manuscript was given to George Thurber by John Torrey around 1856-1857. It was given to the Gray Herbarium by the Massachusetts Agricultural College, but there is no record of how the College obtained it. The biographical sketch was given to the Gray Herbarium by Asa Gray.

Processing Information

Processed by Lynn McWhood

Schweinitz, Lewis David von, 1780-1834. Lewis David von Schweinitz manuscript and biographical sketch, 1821-1886: A Guide.
Botany Libraries, Gray Herbarium Library, Harvard University.
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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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