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COLLECTION Identifier: gra00057

Charles Fay Wheeler Carex papers

Scope and Content

The Wheeler papers consist primarily of documents pertaining to the genus Carex. There are two parts to the collection: 1) Two folders of papers consisting of notes, lists of Carex collections, and correspondence dated 1897 to 1906, from Liberty Hyde Bailey, Frederick Vernon Coville, William Conklin Cusick, Georg Kükenthal, Samuel B. Parish, and Carl Otto Rosendahl. 2) A card file of Carex species, arranged alphabetically; with a few cards for Cyperus, Eleocharis, Rhynchospora, Scirpus, and Scleria.


  • 1895-1906

Conditions Governing Access

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


0.6 linear feet (3 folders in shared box 3, 1 card file)


Charles Fay Wheeler was born on June 14, 1842, in Mexico, New York. In 1861 he left Mexico to enlist in the army during the Civil War, but served only five months before his company was mustered out. He enlisted again in 1862 and served seven months until being discharged due to poor health.

Wheeler moved to Hubbardston, Michigan to recuperate. Spending time outdoors led to an interest in plants and eventually to a systematic study of the local flora. Wheeler briefly studied medicine at the University of Michigan from 1866 to 1867 before returning to Hubbardston to open a drugstore. He married Catherine Trask Holbrook in 1869.

Wheeler continued to study botany in his spare time and eventually accumulated some 7,000 herbarium specimens. In 1881 he co-authored a flora of Michigan with Erwin Frink Smith. He revised this flora twelve years later with William James Beal. Wheeler left his store to teach botany at the Michigan Agricultural College in 1889. He completed a bachelor of science degree in 1891 and was made assistant professor in 1895. During his time at the college he worked closely with W. J. Beal and Gilbert Henry Hicks to establish a botanical garden and herbarium.

In 1902 he moved to Washington, D.C. to accept a position at the Bureau of Plant Industry in the United States Department of Agriculture. He held this position until his death on March 5, 1910.

  1. Beal WJ. 1910. Charles Fay Wheeler. Rep. Mich. Acad. Sci. 12: 14-15.
  2. Wight WF. 1910. Charles Fay Wheeler. Science. 32(811):72-75.


The Wheeler papers were likely sent to Merritt Lyndon Fernald at the Gray Herbarium by Wheeler’s widow, Catherine, in 1910. There is a letter from her in the Administrative Correspondence file dated 24 October 1910 in which she mentions having sent her husband's sedges and some cards.

Processing Information

Processed by Lynn McWhood

Wheeler, Charles F. (Charles Fay), 1842-1910. Charles Fay Wheeler Carex papers, 1895-1906: A Guide.
Botany Libraries, Gray Herbarium Library, Harvard University.
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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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