William Ruggles Gerard (1841-1914)
William Ruggles Gerard was born in Newburgh, New York, on March 29, 1841. As a young boy, he worked for a druggist, and continued on in that field until he became the proprietor of a drug store in Poughkeepsie. He was interested in fungi, "at a time when few American botanists had devoted attention to that group of plants" (71). He published descriptions of new species in the Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, his first appearing in October 1873 (before the earliest published mycological papers of Burrill, Ellis, Farlow or Morgan). He was one of the founding members of the Poughkeepsie Society of Natural Science in 1874, and published a number of papers in the Proceedings of that organization. In 1877 he relocated to New York City, and became an active member of the Torrey Botanical Club. He became assistant editor of the Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club under William H. Leggett. After Leggett's death, Gerard became editor of the Bulletin, a position that the held from 1822-1885. He was also interested in the derivation of plant names, particularly those of Native American origin (71). He published papers on this subject in Garden and Forest in 1895 and 1896. He died in New York City on February 26, 1914.
__________ "News Items". Torreya. 14(4): 71-72.
see Harvard University Library, Bibliographical Contributions, No. 25, "A List of Works on North American Fungi" by W.G. Farlow and William Trelease, p. 17 for a list of Gerard's publications
Scope and Content:
The Gerard papers consist of a sheaf of notes held together with brads. The cover is labeled "To Asa Gray with the compliments of W. R. Gerard, 1886." Inside the front cover was a letter to Gray from Gerard, dated Oct. 22, 1886, explaining the contents. The notes pertain to the etymologies of generic names and are mostly handwritten, with some sections of proof from an unpublished article pasted in. There are 59 pages plus 2 letters to Sereno Watson (Nov. 15, 1889 and Nov. 19, 1889) which were inserted at p. 57.
[Other Gerard materials in the archives include 1 letter in the Historic Letters file, 2 letters in the Semi-Historic Letters file, and 23 letters in the George E. Davenport collection.]
The Gerard notes were found with the papers of Walter Deane, who may have received them from Sereno Watson.
Semi-Historic Letter Collection
Last Updated June 2002
Copyright 2002 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College