Library of the Gray Herbarium

BIOGRAPHICAL AND AUTOGRAPH COLLECTIONS

 

Miss Day's (?) biographies:

1: Brief biographical information concerning roughly 200 botanists; generally no more than a page, frequently less; sometimes including notes of published works. The biographies are on loose sheets arranged alphabetically in a folder; they may have been compiled by Mary A. Day, long-time librarian at the Gray Herbarium.

 

Mrs. Gray's autograph collection:

2: Letter from Mrs. Gray to B.L. Robinson, 1898, presenting her autograph collection to the Gray Herbarium. Press notice. [The collection itself consists of five bound volumes; with the albums is a 200 p. index in Jane Gray's hand. Index has been microfilmed.]

3,4,5: Three small notebooks containing an index of the letters in Mrs. Gray's autograph volumes. (In Belle Watson's handwriting.)

6: Typed copies of above. [A copy follows in this book.]

 

Miscellaneous autograph collection:

7,8,9,10: Folders containing autographs and handwriting samples of miscellaneous botanists. Most of the samples are minor snippets or addresses on envelopes rather than complete letters. These may have been assembled by Mrs. Gray. [list follows]

 

Mrs. Gray's and Mrs. James' biographies:

11: Letters pertaining to the collection of autographs or to the lives of botanists. Six letters to Mrs. Gray, 1894-1895, including one from Isabella James, which gives information about William Peck and about autographs owned by Mrs. James. One letter to Isabella James, 1897. Additional letters to Mrs. Gray (and to a few other people) can be found in the folders containing Mrs. Gray's notes on botanists (see below).

11: Three sets of brief notes on botanists by Mr. Durand, Dr. Torrey and Mrs. Gray. The latter consists of a rough manuscript and a typescript and appears to be largely based on quotes from Asa Gray.

12,13,14,15: Mrs. Gray's notes on botanists: folders containing notes written by Mrs. Gray, newspaper clippings, articles, letters, etc., pertaining to botanists, arranged alphabetically by subject. Items in the folders range from very minor to very interesting. A few of the more interesting letters have been moved to the Historic Letters file. [list follows]

16: Auto-Biographical Sketch of William Darlington, M.D.: 77 leaves of manuscript, in Darlington's handwriting, written for Isabella Batchelder [James], 1849.

17: Mrs. James' biographies of botanists: A polished manuscript containing biographical descriptions, generally 1 to 3 pages (on large sheets). It was intended to be accompanied by portraits, autographs and flowers, but only a few pressed plants (bearing the names of botanists) are with the present manuscript. Mrs. James' biographies were intended to be "Flora's Valhalla": for each botanists there was to be a biographical sketch, a portrait or view of birthplace or residence, a figure of a plant dedicated to the botanist and a facsimile of an autograph letter. See W.C. Coker, "Letters from the collection of Dr. Charles Wilkins Short," Elisha Mitchell Sci. Soc. Journal 57 (1941): 162-163 [letter from Wm. Darlington to C.W. Short, 1859] It is possible that autographs and portraits were at one point attached to the manuscript and then taken out by Mrs. Gray for use in her autograph collection, or Mrs. James may never have bound her autographs with her manuscript. Mrs. James started this collection in 1850 and worked on it for some years. According to a preface written by her in 1860, she had to do a lot of research to assemble the biographies. [list follows]

 

Belle A. Watson's indexes to notes on botanists:

Belle A. Watson was a niece of Sereno Watson and the companion of Mrs. Gray after Asa Gray's death. The following indexes were probably compiled around 1893 (one set is mounted on 1893 newspapers) and may have been intended to aid in the compilation of biographical information for Mrs. Gray's autograph albums, which were given to the Gray Herbarium in 1898. Miss Watson's work consists of indexes to notes on botanists in:

18: 1. Botany of California (6 p.)

19: 2. Brendel. Am. Nat. XIII. 754-771. 1879.
Am. Nat. XIV. 25-38. 1880.

20: 3. Sargent's Silva (pasted on 8 sheets of paper)

21,22: 4. American Journal of Science (pasted on 24 sheets, mostly 1893 newspapers)

 

This collection of Autographs was commenced by Dr. Asa Gray during his first visit to Europe in 1839. He received many from Adrien de Jussieu, the elder de Candolle, and other friends. Large additions were made on his later visits to Europe, especially in 1869 by Cesati of Naples, and also in England, France Switzerland and Germany. Many were added from his personal correspondents.

 

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