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COLLECTION Identifier: gra00025

Elsie Louise Shaw Wild Flowers of Eastern North America illustrations

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of 458 original illustrations of eastern North American wildflowers, arranged by plant family. Many of the illustrations are based on material collected by Harvard Professor Merritt Lyndon Fernald. Additional collectors who provided material for Shaw’s illustrations include Charles Duell Lippincott and Arthur Herbert Norton.

Each illustration is numbered and labeled. Some leaves contain illustrations of multiple wildflowers.


  • 1887-1934

Conditions Governing Access

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


1 linear feet (6 volumes) : 438 leaves (437 leaves of illustrations and 1 leaf with provenance information) ; 30 x 42 cm

Biographical note

Elsie Louise Shaw born on September 10, 1862 or 1863, in Rockland, Massachusetts, the oldest child of Elijah Anderson Shaw and Frances “Fannie” E. (Dyer) Shaw. She lived in Lexington for most of her life and never married. Shaw collected plants for the University of Maine, the Gray Herbarium, and the New England Botanical Club, and provided illustrations for the 2nd edition of “According to the season” (1902) and the 4th edition of “How to know the wild flowers” (1909), both by Frances Theodora Parsons.


Vital Records, 1841-1920, Massachusetts Archives, Boston, Massachusetts.


Most illustrations are on individual pages.

The following numbered illustrations are on shared pages.
  1. Numbers 16-17
  2. Numbers 116-118
  3. Numbers 156-157
  4. Numbers 161-162
  5. Numbers 184-189
  6. Numbers 204-205
  7. Numbers 256-257
  8. Numbers 289-290
  9. Numbers 297-297a
  10. Numbers 311-312
  11. Numbers 362-363
  12. Numbers 365-368
  13. Numbers 369-371
  14. Numbers 375-377


Shaw’s family arranged for her illustrations to be mounted and bound into eight folios, then donated the collection to the Gray Herbarium.

Related Materials

Other related material at the Botany Libraries, Harvard University Herbaria: James Franklin Collins papers.

Digitization note

Digitized by Harvard College Library Digital Imaging Group as part of the Original Botanical Illustrations in the Combined Collections of the Botany Libraries.

Processing Information

Original interleaving was replaced with new acid free interleaving in 2018. At that time the artwork was condensed from 8 volumes to 6 volumes.

Shaw, Elsie Louise. Elsie Louise Shaw Wild Flowers of Eastern North America illustrations, 1887-1934: A Guide.
Botany Libraries, Gray Herbarium Library, Harvard University.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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
22 Divinity Ave
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-2366