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Walter Deane (1848-1930)


Walter Deane was born in Boston, Massachusetts on April 23, 1848. His family moved to Cambridge in 1853, and he was educated at the Cambridge High School, from which he graduated in 1862, and at Harvard College, from which he graduated in 1870. While at Harvard, Deane was active in the Handel and Haydn Society and was a member of the Hasty Pudding Club (Weatherby 71). After college he tutored for a year and then became a teacher at St. Mark's School in Southboro, Massachusetts. He married a headmaster's daughter, Margaret Chapman Coolidge, on Dec. 31, 1878, and shortly thereafter the Deanes moved to Cambridge. Deane taught at the Hopkinson School in Boston until 1895, when he gave up teaching for health reasons. During this period, Deane developed the basis for many life-long interests -- including botany, when in 1880 he pressed his first specimen (Weatherby 74). In 1895 and 1896 Deane tutored, led small classes in botany and worked for the Metropolitan Park Commission compiling a flora of the park system. From 1897-1907 he worked as curator for William Brewster's ornithological museum and assisted in the preparation of Brewster's Birds of the Cambridge Region (Weatherby 73). Deane held no more paid positions after 1907, but devoted himself to his own interests. After his wife's death in 1917, he was cared for by Lilla Brown, a nurse who served as his companion. For many years Deane lived in Cambridge in the winter and on the farm of Augustus Philbrook in Shelburne, N.H., in the summer. Deane died on July 30, 1930.

During the course of his life, Deane engaged in a number of botanical activities, including being a founding member of the New England Botanical Club, serving on several botanical visiting committees for Harvard (the Committee to visit the Botanical Department, 1891-1896; the Visiting Committee for the Botanical Museum, 1923-1929; and the Visiting Committee for the Gray Herbarium, 1897 until his death), helping on several floras (Mrs. Owen's of Nantucket, Rand and Redfield's of Mt. Desert Island, and Pease's of Coos County), and corresponding with a great number of botanists. He published short articles in a number of botanical journals, including the , the Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, and Rhodora. He was an inveterate collector, with collections ranging from a carefully constructed herbarium and autographs of botanists to stereopticon views and picture post-cards of the bridges of Paris. Deane had many non-botanical interests as well. He was secretary of the Old Cambridge Shakespeare Association from 1883-1925. Deane was also an ornithologist, an active member of the Nuttall Ornithological Club and he "banded birds with enthusiasm" (Weatherby 74). Deane was also interested in astronomy, and at one point he collected insects for J.H. Emerton and Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology.

In 1918 Deane presented to the Gray Herbarium "his entire collection of botanical pamphlets and clippings" which numbered over 2600 items (Weatherby 79). Deane's herbarium, which contained approximately 40,000 sheets was left to the Gray Herbarium, as was his botanical library and autograph collection (Robinson 459). The genus Deanea, a small group of Mexican Umbelliferae was named for Walter Deane (Weatherby 79).


_____________Who Was Who in America Vol. I, 1897-1942. A.N. Marquis Co., Chicago, 1942. p. 308.
Robinson, B. L. "Botanical Legacies of Walter Deane." Science Series II. 72: 459.
Weatherby, C.A. "Walter Deane." Rhodora 35(411): 69-80

Scope & Content Note


Series Description

Container List

Notebooks & Diaries, Photographs & Albums, Blue Hills Flora, Botanical Papers

Autograph Collection


A-B | C-D | E-G | H-K | L-M | N-Q | R-S | T-Z


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Last Updated June 2002
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