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COLLECTION Identifier: gra00105

Charles Alfred Weatherby papers

Scope and content

The Charles Alfred Weatherby papers, 1861-circa 1951, bulk 1893-1948, consist of biographical material and botanical papers.

Biographical materials are primarily correspondence, photographs, diary extracts, and other personal papers. Una Weatherby, Charles Weatherby's wife, self-published a biography on Charles, and some of this material is related to that biography. Topics include Weatherby’s youth, education, and some Gray Herbarium material.

Botanical papers consist of manuscripts of published works such as contributions to journals and floras, nomenclature committee work, professional correspondence, herbarium lists, and field notebooks.


  • 1861-circa 1951
  • Majority of material found in 1893-1948


Conditions Governing Access

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


3 linear feet (1 record carton, 1 document box, 4 flat oversize boxes)

Biographical note

Charles Alfred Weatherby was born in Hartford, Connecticut on December 25, 1875, the son of Charles Nathaniel and Grace Weld (Young) Weatherby. Weatherby entered Harvard in 1893 and concentrated on the study of literature. He graduated summa cum laude in 1897 and stayed another year to earn an A.M. in literature. Shortly after college, his parents separated, and he went to live with his mother in East Hartford. Between 1899-1905, Weatherby was ill and thus unable to continue formal academic studies or to work. He managed to further develop an amateur interest in botany by joining the Connecticut Botanical Society and working on a committee that was compiling a flora of Connecticut. His work on the Connecticut flora led him to spend time at the Gray Herbarium, and he became a voluntary assistant in the summers of 1908, 1909 and 1911.

In 1910, Weatherby accompanied his mother to Europe, where he met Una Lenora Foster, with whom he began a correspondence. Una was an artist and was interested in botany. She worked with Weatherby on some of his projects and became a botanical illustrator in the process. They were married on May 16, 1917, and settled in East Hartford. Weatherby continued his pattern of living in East Hartford and doing some part-time work at the Gray Herbarium. In 1928 Weatherby's mother died, and the next year the couple moved to Cambridge. Weatherby became a full-time assistant curator, and from 1937 to 1940 he was senior curator. On his retirement in 1940 he was made a research associate of the Gray Herbarium, and he continued doing work there until his death on June 21, 1949.

In his early days at the Gray Herbarium, Weatherby worked with M.L. Fernald on Puccinellia. He joined the American Fern Society in 1912, was an editor of the American Fern Journal from 1915 to 1940 and was president of the Society from 1943 to 1944. Weatherby is probably best known as a fern specialist, but he worked in other areas as well. He was very involved in botanical nomenclature: at the 1935 International Botanical Congress in Amsterdam, he and Alfred Rehder were appointed the two American members of the International Committee on the Nomenclature of Vascular Plants. He was selected by W.H. Camp to be on the nomenclature committee of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists in 1946 and he was scheduled to be vice president of the Section on Nomenclature at the 1950 International Botanical Congress at Stockholm. Weatherby made several trips with Una to gather information on type specimens in European herbaria and on the Elliott types in Charleston, where Una drew or photographed the specimens. Other activities included helping with the Gray Herbarium Index and doing editorial work for Rhodora and Brittonia. A lengthy list of his publications from Rhodora (volume 51, pages 179-191) gives an idea of the breadth of his interests.


M. L. Fernald. "Charles Alfred Weatherby, Botanist and Helper of Botanists." Rhodora 51 (1949). W.H. Camp. "Charles Alfred Weatherby." Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 77 (1950). Alice F. Tryon. "Una Foster Weatherby." American Fern Journal 48 (1958). Una F. Weatherby. Charles Alfred Weatherby: A Man of Many Interests. (Cambridge: Self-published, 1951).


The collection has 18 series and is organized into Biographical Material and Botanical Papers.

  1. Biographical Materials:
  2. Series I: Youth
  3. Series II: College Years
  4. Series III: Interim Years
  5. Series IV: Early Herbarium Work
  6. Series V: Full-time Herbarium Work
  7. Series VI: Personal Correspondence
  8. Series VII: Diary Extracts
  9. Series VIII: Biographical Materials
  10. Series IX: Scrapbook
  11. Botanical Papers:
  12. Series X: Notes on Various Topics
  13. Series XI: New England Notes
  14. Series XII: Species Notes
  15. Series XIII: Nomenclature
  16. Series XIV: Professional Correspondence A-Z
  17. Series XV: Certificates
  18. Series XVI: Herbarium Lists
  19. Series XVII: Field Notes/Gray's Manuals
  20. Series XVIII: Manuscript Notes


Most of the collection was likely donated by Charles Weatherby's wife, Una Weatherby, but the provenance of the collection was not recorded. Some plant record books were interfiled into the collection from the Harvard University Herbaria field notes and plant records. The manuscript New World Species of Notholaena was donated by Rolla Tryon, probably after 1956. A letter from Weatherby to Lily May Perry (July 7, 1937) was given to the Gray Herbarium by Perry on July 3, 1952.

Related Materials

Other related material at the Botany Libraries, Harvard University Herbaria:

Administrative correspondence of the Gray Herbarium and Harvard University Herbaria, approximately 640 Charles Weatherby letters.

Gray Herbarium Archives photograph collection, approximately 15 Charles A. Weatherby photographs.

Separated Materials

Two daguerreotypes of Weatherby's great grandfather and mother, Anson Seth Atwood and Sarah Palmer Atwood, used to be part of this collection and were filed under the unique identifier CAW H. They were removed from the collection and added to the Botany Libraries daguerreotypes and ambrotypes (gra00089).

Processing note

A preliminary finding aid was created in 1981. In 2004, the collection was re-examined and reorganized. Personal materials were separated from professional materials. Personal materials are now organized under Biographical Materials, and professional materials are now organized under the Botanical Papers. There are 18 series in the collection.

The collection was originally arranged by Una Weatherby. Folders were numbered and named to correspond to sections of the biography she wrote about her husband and contain both original materials and biographical manuscript. The original order was preserved as much as possible; however, some items were relocated to more appropriate containers. In all cases the contents within the folders remain unchanged.

In 2023, the html finding aid was imported to ArchivesSpace. Boxes were numbered from 1-6, previously they were described by size. The collection was not rehoused.

There is no CAW H in the collection.

Weatherby, Charles Alfred, 1875-1949. Charles Alfred Weatherby papers, 1861-circa 1951, bulk 1893-1948: 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.

Harvard University Herbaria
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