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COLLECTION Identifier: gra00079

Administrative correspondence of the Gray Herbarium and Harvard University Herbaria

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of Gray Herbarium correspondence from the 1890s to present day but the bulk of the letters are from 1890-1955. Most of the letters are addressed to staff members of the Gray Herbarium and were transferred to the archives from office files. Some letters were gifts to the Gray Herbarium that were interfiled into the collection.

The letters are from amateur and professional botanists, collectors, prospective students, suppliers, Harvard administration, members of the Visiting Committee, donors, and the general public. Topics include botanical issues such as controversies about botanical nomenclature, routine acknowledgements of specimen loans, identifications of specimens, and general Gray Herbarium business. While many of the letters are somewhat routine in nature, some of the letters provide insight into the lives of well known botanists as well as larger historical events.

Dates

  • 1890-2019
  • Majority of material found within 1890-1955

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Access to this collection may be restricted. For further information regarding a specific correspondent, please contact botref@oeb.harvard.edu for additional information.

Extent

75 linear feet (7 file cabinets)

Historical note

The Gray Herbarium originated with the gift of Asa Gray's herbarium and library to Harvard in 1864. Early curators and directors were Sereno Watson (1874-1892); Benjamin Lincoln Robinson (1892-1935); and Merritt Lyndon Fernald (1935-1947).

Arrangement

Letters are arranged alphabetically by sender and are often in reverse chronological order. Some letters are filed by company or insitution and not by individual sender.

Provenance

This collection was previously called the Semi-Historic Letter Collection. It was officially renamed the Administrative correspondence of the Gray Herbarium and Harvard University Herbaria in 2016.

The provenance and selection criteria from 1890-1948 is not documented. Starting in 1948 during Reed Rollin’s directorship, files kept in the director’s office were periodically sorted and transferred to a dead file. Materials from the dead file were evaluated and some letters were added to this collection. Identifications of plants and correspondence of a temporary nature were weeded out while correspondence from significant botanists, former Harvard students, and people affiliated with the administration of the Gray Herbarium was saved. By the 1970s this processed seemed to stop until 1981 when herbarium correspondence was again interfiled into this collection.

This collection is actively being added to, mostly through correspondence discovered during specimen digitization projects. As herbarium correspondence is discovered it is transferred to the archives and interfiled in this collection.

Variant title

This collection was formerly known as the Semi-Historic Letter Collection.

Processing Information

Processing Information The list of correspondents in this finding aid is not complete. New correspondent files were not always added to the container list. Please contact the repository about potential affiliated correspondents that are not listed.
Link to catalog
Title
Harvard University. Gray Herbarium. Administrative correspondence of the Gray Herbarium and Harvard University Herbaria, 1890-2019, bulk 1890-1955: A Guide.
Status
in_progress
Author
Botany Libraries, Gray Herbarium Library, Harvard University.
Date
2019 October
Description rules
dacs
EAD ID
gra00079

Repository Details

Part of the Botany Libraries, Gray Herbarium Library, Harvard University Repository

Contact:
Harvard University Herbaria
22 Divinity Ave
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-2366