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Alice A. Gray


Biographical information about Alice A. Gray is hard to locate. She was the niece of Asa and Jane Gray, spent much of her life in Sauquoit, N.Y. (where Asa was born), and later lived in Utica, N.Y. She seems to have been fairly close to her aunt and uncle, and she was clearly familiar with their home at the Botanic Garden. Letters written by her in 1885 and 1891 suggest that she was working at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts then.

Scope and Content and Provenance:

Papers and objects which belonged to or were created by Alice Gray are scattered in differenct collections in the archives. They fall into three main categories: letters, scrapbooks and clippings, and objects that belonged to Asa Gray.


There are 10 letters from Alice A. Gray to Miss Day and B. L. Robinson, 1911-1927, in the Historic Letters File (with a carbon of one of Robinson's responses). Mostly these concern items that she was considering giving to the Gray Herbarium.

There are 2 letters from Alice Gray to Jane Gray, 1885 and 1891, in the Asa Gray "Green Box" Collection (Box H, AG BIO 63) pertaining to portrait reliefs of Asa Gray.

Scrapbooks and clippings:

"Memorial of Asa Gray" (in Gray Cabinet 2) -- Alice Gray began compiling this scrapbook of notices about Asa Gray in 1888 and apparently gave it to her aunt. When Jane Gray died, the scrapbook returned to Alice, who added more clippings and then gave the volume to the Gray Herbarium in 1911. (Stamped received 4/17/11.)

Collection of magazine and newspaper articles on botanical subjects -- this collection was given to the Gray Herbarium by Alice Gray in June 1922, as she was preparing to give up her house in Sauquoit, N.Y,. (see container list, following).

"Asa Gray, Fisher Professor of Natural History in Harvard University for forty five years. Born in Sauquoit, Oneida County, New York, November 18, 1810. Died at the Botanic Garden, Cambridge, Mass. January 30, 1888." (in Asa Gray "Manuscript Case" Collection, 51, Box AV) -- scrapbook compiled by Alice Gray for her family, including letters of Gray to his family, clippings, photographs, etc. Alice Gray deposited the scrapbook in the Gray Herbarium in 1922, when she was leaving Sauquoit, N.Y., with the understanding that it would not be available for public viewing and that she could have it back. In 1926 she asked to have the scrapbook returned to her. After removing some letters and photographs to give to the Hall of Fame and to Hamilton College, a copy of Gray's memorial sermon, and items that she thought were silly outside of a family context, she returned the scrapbook in 1927 as an outright gift to the Gray Herbarium, although still expressing the feeling that it was to personal for public viewing at that time.

Asa Gray objects:

Given in 1913: silver pencil -- given to Alice on her 18th birthday, used by Gray for about 30 years, [gold watch -- bought 1844 with money from Lowell Lectures, given to Alice 40 years later. Transferred to Historic Scientific Instruments Collection, Harvard.], pocket magnifying glass, pocket ink bottle, "pocket testament in a much worn silk case", Alice Gray offered a picture of Shortia in 1923; it is unclear if it was actually given.

Given in 1927 with scrapbook: plate of John Bartram house, silk waistcoat -- she said this was sent with scrapbook by an oversight, had been given to her by Jane Gray

Container List: (BOX AV)

"Clippings or articles from newspapers or magazines relating to plants, trees, etc. made by Miss Alice Gray, Sauquoit, N.Y. niece of Dr. Asa Gray, and given to the Gray Herbarium by her June 12, 1922. To be looked over and sorted." Sections tied up with red string and tagged with labels made from clippings:

1"The Way of the Woods / Trees" -- consists of articles from magazines and smaller clippings. "Gardens Old and New / Old-Fashioned Flowers" -- mostly articles from magazines; includes a ms sheet labeled: "Flower bed at the Botanic Garden, Cambridge. Marked 'A few old fashioned plants, 1636'," containing list of plant names. "Luther Burbank" -- mostly articles from magazines

2"Flowers from Field and Woodland / The Story of the Plants" -- articles from magazines and a few smaller clippings. Section pasted into a paper cover: "Old Time Gardens: A Book o' the Sweet of the Year / The Story of the Plants" pasted onto cover; "Gardens Old and New" pasted onto spine. Articles from magazines; a few poems; small clippings pasted onto large ones.

See Also:

Historic Letter Collection
Semi-Historic Letter Collection


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Last Updated June 2002
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