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COLLECTION Identifier: gra00028

Susan Minns watercolors of Bahamas plants and scenery

Scope and Content

This collection contains 22 watercolor paintings of plants from the Bahamas and landscapes from Nassau, New Providence. Some are signed.


  • circa 1865-1915

Conditions Governing Access

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


0.2 linear feet (1 flat oversize box) : 22 leaves

Biographical Note

Susanna “Susan” Minns was born on August 29, 1839, in Lincoln, Massachusetts, to Constant Freeman Minns and Frances Parker Minns. She lived in the Beacon Hill neighborhood in Boston and maintained country homes in Princeton and Nahant, Massachusetts. She was among the first women to graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and went on to study botany at Harvard with Asa Gray.

As a philanthropist, Minns’s interests ranged from women’s education to science and art. She donated to Wellesley College, MIT, and the Boston Museum of Science. Minns was also a charter member of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and served on the Board of Overseers of the Gray Herbarium at Harvard. In 1926 she purchased Little Wachusett, a mountain in Princeton, and donated the land to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a wildlife sanctuary.

Minns was an avid art collector from childhood. Her collection included works by Albrecht Dürer, Hans Holbein, and Rembrandt van Rijn. An artist in her own right, she wrote and illustrated “Book of the Silk Worm,” published in 1928.

Minns died on August 2, 1938, and is buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Klaft L. 2015. Conservationists gear up to maintain Fieldstone Farm in Princeton. The Telegram; [accessed 2017 November 8].

Minns S. 1922. Illustrated catalogue of the notable collection of Miss Susan Minns of Boston, Mass… Greenwich (CT): Condé Nast Press.

Minns Leadership Committee. Lectures History. The Minns Lectures; [copyright 2011-2017; accessed 2017 November 8].

Scovel C, Forman CC. 1993. Journey toward independence: King’s Chapel’s transition to Unitarianism. Boston (MA): Skinner House Books. 99.


The provenance of this collection is unknown.

Related Materials

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

Administrative correspondence of the Gray Herbarium and Harvard University Herbaria George Edward Davenport papers

Conservation and digitization note:

In 2018 this collection was conserved in preparation for digitization. Digitized by Harvard College Library Digital Imaging Group as part of the Original Botanical Illustrations in the Combined Collections of the Botany Libraries, 2018.

Processing Information

Processed by Rachel Parker, 2017.

Minns, Susan. Susan Minns watercolors of Bahamas plants and scenery, circa 1865-1915: 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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