Library of the Gray Herbarium

Library of the Gray Herbarium




Thomas Wentworth Higginson was born in Cambridge on Dec. 22, 1823. He was educated at Harvard, receiving his A.B. in 1841 and graduating from the Divinity School in 1847. While an undergraduate at Harvard, Higginson took the optional coursed in natural history offered by Thaddeus William Harris and developed interests in botany and entomology under Harris' influence. From 1840-1841, Higginson was corresponding secretary and entomological curator of the Harvard Natural History Society, and in the years after his A.B. continued to do some general botanizing.

After Harvard, Higginson was involved in the Civil War, in religious activities, in Massachusetts politics, and in the writing of a number of general historical and literary works. During the course of his many other occupations, he maintained an amateur interest in natural history and botany: he was a member of the Boston Society of Natural History and of the Cambridge Entomological Club; he published a memoir of Thaddeus William Harris in 1869 and a book of general essays on plant lore (The Procession of the Flowers and kindred papers...) in 1897; and in his biographical blurbs in American Men of Science (1906 and 1910 eds.), he listed the flora of Boston and vicinity as one of his scientific interests.

Higginson married Mary P. Thacher on Feb. 6, 1879; he died on May 9, 1911, in Cambridge.



Who was Who in America
American Men of Science
, eds. 1 and 2


Scope and Content:

The Higginson papers consist of four botanical notebooks and two letters, as follows:

1. Notebook labeled: "Record of Botanical expeditions beginning May 28, 1841 [in my senior year]"; entries in journal form, including narrative and lists of plants found; entries dated May 28, 1841 - Sept. 18, 1842; collections in Brookline, Cambridge, New Hampshire; 18 leaves, last one torn.

2. Notebook labeled: "[Book kept by Thos. Wentworth Higginson in Cambridge, Brookline, etc. in 1841-2]"; a presenting letter form Higginson to a professor [Robinson?], Jan. 15, 1908 is tipped in at the front; first part of notebook lists 1841-1842 finds in systematic (Linnaean) order; second part lists plants found chronologically from March 22, 1843 - Oct. 6, 1843, nos. 1-347; locations include Brookline, Cambridge and Brattleboro, Vt.; 18 leaves.

3. Notebook labeled: "Rubbish Book. No. 4, 1844"; lists plants found March-Sept. 11, 1844 in Brookline, Brattleboro, Brighton, Newton, Beverly, Niagara, Cambridge, etc.; about 370 other listings; 16 leaves, 5 blank.

4. Notebook labeled (inside): "Notebook for flowers [1845] and afterward for facts on Physical Training"; hard cover notebook; starts with pencil notes on dates of appearance of some plants; next comes a listing of plants found, basically the same format as third notebook, from March 7 - aug. 31, 1845 and March 7 - June 9, 1846, in Cambridge, Brookline, Beverly, Watertown, etc.; next is a large section of notes on physical training, pages numbered 1-92; on pages 101-105 there are notes on plants found from March to July 18, 1859, in Worcester, Florida, Pennsylvania, etc.; there follow more notes on physical training and one more page of plant notes, p. 126.

5. Folder containing letter which was enclosed in fourth notebook; from L.L. Dame to Higginson, March 7, 1894, about reading Higginson's botanical notes.



Notebooks 1 and 3 were received at the Gray Herbarium on June 14, 1906; notebook 2 was received on Feb. 25, 1909; notebook 4 was not stamped with an acquisition date. All were given to Herbarium by Higginson.




Indexed in Main File under:
Higginson, Thomas Wentworth
Dame, Lorin Low (1838-1903).


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