Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Use
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.
3.34 linear feet ((8 file boxes) plus 1 folio+ folder, 1 photograph folder)
Northrop's diaries begin just before her nineteenth birthday and indicate an early and intense interest in nature studies. In 1889, at the age of twenty-five, she married John Isiah Northrop, an instructor of botany and zoology at Columbia University. The couple commenced a series of wide-ranging field trips, but in 1891, almost exactly two years after their marriage, Dr. Northrop was killed in a laboratory explosion at the Columbia School of Mines. Northrop's only child, John Howard Northrop (Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, 1946), was born eight days after his father's death. Northrop suffered a long and severe illness after the near-simultaneous loss of her husband and birth of her son, but then began to rebuild her life. She was by then instructor of botany at Hunter College, and continued to teach there throughout the period covered by these papers. She did not marry again, but raised her son alone, suspending her travels for several years while he was very young; when he was about six she resumed them, taking him with her.
She traveled widely in the American and Canadian West and Northwest, and in Central America and the Caribbean, at a time when most of these areas were considered inaccessible to non-native women, and were still largely unexplored even by (non-native) men. Throughout her adult life she endeavored to make the joys of nature available to people confined to cities, and for this purpose she founded the School Nature League in 1917. The Northrop Memorial Nature Camp was eventually established at her property in Mt. Washington, Massachusetts, to continue that work.
Northrop helped write two books: A Naturalist in the Bahamas, written with her husband and edited by H.F. Osborn (ca.1910); and Through Field and Woodland, a guide to upland flora in New England, edited by O.P. Medsger (New York: Putnam, 1925). She also contributed articles to botanical journals, and gave new plant specimens as well as writings to major research institutions, among them the American Museum of Natural History, the Gray Herbarium at Harvard, the New York Botanical Garden, and the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory.
Northrop lived most of her adult life in New York State: in Yonkers, and in Columbia County in the Berkshires, where she also had a house. In 1919 she moved to High Meadows Farm near Great Barrington, Massachusetts, where the Northrop Memorial Camp now stands. While she was out with colleagues to complete the arrangements for the foundation of the camp, her car was hit by a train, and she died on May 6, 1922, at Mt. Riga, New York.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The papers of Alice Rich Northrop were given to the Schlesinger Library by her grandsons John Northrop in January 1989 and Geoffrey Northrop in August 2009. Folders #1v-15v were microfilmed with funds from the John H. Northrop estate and from the Friends of the Schlesinger Library.
MICROFILM OF COLLECTION
Undated diary pages were numbered by the processor to aid the microfilmer, the proofreader, and the researcher. In most volumes diary pages are headed by printed dates; in these cases no numbers were added.
Information added by the processor, such as page numbers or dates, is enclosed in square brackets.
The film was proofread by the processor and corrections made where necessary. These corrections may disrupt the sequence of frame numbers.
Although care was taken to ensure that the material be as legible as possible, the condition of some of the volumes and items made microfilming difficult:
- 1. Much of the paper is brittle and in many cases sections of pages have crumbled away.
- 2. Several of the volumes have suffered severe insect damage, so that parts of many pages are missing.
- 3. Many photographs are faded or have been defaced.
- 4. Many entries were written in pencil, which has faded.
- 5. Several of the books are badly discolored by glue stains and/or chemical reactions with enclosures.
All pages used by Northrop, either for writing or for affixing clippings, photographs, etc., were filmed. Unused pages were not filmed. In dated diaries the dates of the unfilmed pages have been noted in square brackets by the processor. In 8v-15v all of these notes have been filmed. In 1v-7v, when the notes fell on an otherwise empty two-page spread, it may be absent; all of Northrop's material is present, however.
The versos of envelopes were microfilmed only if they contained return addresses or notes.
Loose items that obviously belonged where they were found were filmed there. Other loose items were filmed at the end of the volume in which they were found.
Some enclosures referred to in letters are missing.
In some cases letters are attached to diary pages in such a way that a page or a signature cannot be read.
Some pages had to be filmed more than once for one or both of the following reasons:
- 1. The presence of folded and/or multiple-paged items, such as cards, clippings, or programs.
- 2. Postcards or photographs that were hinged to make the text on the reverse side accessible.
Northrop frequently pressed botanical and other specimens in her notebooks. When the specimen was well attached or well preserved, it was left in place and filmed. Some specimens had crumbled so badly that they had to be removed before filming.
Some volume numbers in the inventory do not agree with the volume numbers that Northrop used.
REEL LIST (M-131)
- Folders 1v-7v: M-131, Reel 1
- Folders 8v-13v: M-131, Reel 2
- Folders 14v-15v: M-131, Reel 3
- Box 1: 1v-7v
- Box 2: 8v, 10v-11v
- Box 3: 9v (9v.a-9v.n)
- Box 4: 12v-15v
- Box 5: 16-22, 24-25
- Box 6: 26-28
- Box 7: 29-31
- Box 8: 32-34
By: Eve Golden
Updated: April 2017
By: Anne Engelhart
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- Northrop, Alice Rich, 1864-1922. Papers of Alice Rich Northrop, 1883-1924: A Finding Aid
- Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
- EAD ID
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