Alvah Augustus Eaton (1865-1908)
Alvah Augustus Eaton was born in Seabrook, New Hampshire and moved with his family to a farm in Salisbury, Massachusetts when he was twelve. He went to high school at the Putnam School in Newburyport, Mass., where he finished the four year course in two years. Eaton then taught for one year in Seabrook, N.H. and for three years in California, where he also took up farming. Upon returning to New England, Eaton was both a farmer and a teacher until poor health led him to give up teaching and become a florist.
A self-taught botanist, Eaton focused on fernworts (pteridophytes), grasses and orchids. His work on Equisetum and Isoetes was of particular note; he "described many species in these groups, and revised the matter relating to them for Gray's New Manual of Botany" (W.N.C. 110). At the time of his death he had prepared for publication a study on Orchidaceae and a monograph on Isoetes.
Eaton was a member of the Linnean Fern Chapter, which would become the American Fern Society and was a frequent contributor to the Fern Bulletin. For the last six years of his life, Eaton was associated with the Ames Botanical Laboratory at North Easton, Mass. He made one collecting trip to Europe and three to Florida for the Laboratory, during which he discovered "more than a dozen ferns new to the United States" ( W.N.C. 110). He served as Secretary of the American Fern Society for two years, as President for one year, and later "took up the formation of an herbarium for the Society" (W.N.C. 111). He held the post of curator of this herbarium from its inception until his death.
Leavitt, R. G. "In Memoriam: Alvah Augustus Eaton."Rhodora 10(120): 209-214, 1908.
Scope and Content:
The Eaton papers consist of 16 notebooks containing field notes and other botanical notes; 4 letters; and a few small manuscripts of sets of notes. The notebooks appear to range from about 1895 to 1906; the letters are from 1899-1905; and the manuscripts are undated. Five of the notebooks pertain to field trips to Florida.
The letters and small manuscripts were wrapped in a paper addressed to M.L. Fernald at the Gray Herbarium from Mrs. A.A. Eaton, so they were probably given by her. (Also labeled "Bundle 1365.") The notebooks may also have been given by Mrs. Eaton.
Container Listing: Box AA
items 1-17 have been microfilmed
S(?) F Chuseman(?) to Eaton, 1900
Carnegie Institution to Eaton, 1902
W.C. Dukes to Eaton, 1905
Manuscripts and notes:
I. Saccharata -- notes, 3 p.
2. List of birds, 1895; notes on miscellaneous plants -- seems to include notes on plants of other people as well as his own, one page is dated 1896.
13. Notes on plants, starts with "hiemalia", not numbered
18. Miscellaneous inserts found in notebooks: pressed plant, train ticket and clipping found in book no. 4; pressed plant and personal card found in book no. 10.
Historic Letter Collection
Last Updated June 2002
Copyright 2002 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College