Library of the Gray Herbarium

Library of the Gray Herbarium




George Golding Kennedy was born in Roxbury in 1841 and was educated at Roxbury Latin School. He graduated from Harvard in 1864 and received his M.D. degree from Harvard Medical School in 1867. After practicing medicine for a short time, he took over his father's business of manufacturing medicines, an occupation which allowed him to acquire considerable wealth while leaving him with enough leisure to carry out his own studies. He had studied botany under Asa Gray at Harvard and maintained a life-long interest in the subject. He was active in the New England Botanical Club, published brief articles on botany, and in 1904, published a flora of Willoughby, Vt. He developed a sizeable herbarium which he eventually gave to the Farlow, Gray and New England Botanical Club herbaria. He was active on the Visiting Committee of the Gray Herbarium and gave the money to build a new library wing in 1914. Kennedy also had a strong background in the classics and was a collector of rare books. He did much work on a detailed index of plants inn the works of Bacon and Shakespeare, with notes on the historic uses of the plants, which appears not to have been completed of published.

Kennedy married Harriet White Harris in 1865, and they had five children: Edith, Donald (who died in infancy), Harris, Sinclair and Mildred. Harriet died in 1910. Kennedy traveled out of the country a number of times: in 1864 to Cuba; in 1872, 1880,, 1886, 1887, and 1905 to Europe; in 1894 to Egypt, Palestine and Athens; in 1903 to England and Scotland. His last trip to Europe was primarily for the purpose of witnessing a total eclipse of the sun. Throughout his life, Kennedy was very involved in the activities of his Harvard class.


Williams, Emile F. George Golding Kennedy. Reprinted from Rhodora, Vol. 21, No. 242, February, 1919.
Harvard Class of 1864, Secretary's Report No. 8, 1864-1914.


Scope and Content:

The Kennedy papers consist mainly of letters to Kennedy, Kennedy's journals, and manuscript materials pertaining to his index of Shakespearian plants.

The letters include sizeable correspondences with botanists as well as correspondence concerning Harvard, family, personal requests for financial assistance, and personal business (disposition of stocks, repair of roof, etc.). The largest correspondences (over 200 letters) are with Ezra Brainerd, Elizabeth G. Britton, J.F. Collins, Walter Deane, W.G. Farlow, C.E. Faxon, M.L. Fernald, F.G. Floyd, W.B. Gibbs, George L. Goodale, Harvard, J.M. Holzinger, W.L. Richardson, B.L. Robinson, C.S. Sargent and Emile F. Williams. The great bulk of the correspondence is to Kennedy; sometimes there are notes of his replies (not included in letter count). There are also three passports (filed under signatures of officials who validated: Wm. Maxwell Evarts, 1880; Hamilton Fish, 1872; and William Henry Seward, 1864) and a few autographs or letters that were apparently collected by Kennedy but which were not addressed to him originally (John Hamcock, Henry W. Longfellow, W.C. Prime, J.J. Ruskin). Most of the letter range from the late 19th century to 1917.

The journals consist of 6 notebooks of a botanical diary, from 1896 to 1917, and 1 notebook containing records of Kennedy's 1903 and 1905 trips to Europe. The botanical notebooks include other tid bits of information, such as newspaper clippings about people or plants.

The manuscript materials consist of a card index of literary reference to plants, a manuscript about the historical uses of different plants, arranged alphabetical by plant name. The latter takes up about 1500 sheets of paper, with most of the sheets appearing in duplicate. There is also a small manuscript materials are dated.

Additional Kennedy materials: letters from Kennedy to the Gray Herbarium, mostly in the Administrative Correspondence files.



Presumably most of the Kennedy papers were given to the Gray Herbarium after Kennedy's death, but they were probably given at different times by different people. The card index and manuscript notes relating to the Bacon-Shakespeare botany were given to the Gray Herbarium on March 23, 1932, by Mrs. Harris Kennedy. The typed sheets pertaining to the Bacon-Shakespeare botany were given to the Gray Herbarium on Sept. 24, 2958, by Miss Mildred Kennedy. There are no indications when the other materials were given. Emile F. Williams mentions having seen Kennedy's journals in his memorial article on Kennedy, published in 1919, so it is possible that they had been sent to the Herbarium directly after Kennedy's death, but it is also possible that Williams had seen them at Kennedy's home. The paper in which Kennedy's journals were wrapped was also labeled "Deane Diaries," so it is possible that some Kennedy Materials came by way of Walter Deane and were confused with his materials.


Container Listing:

LETTERS: The letters are arranged alphabetically. When there were about five of more letters from one individual, a separate folder was set aside for that individual. The following is a list of folder titles:

A (general)
Andrews, Albert Leroy

B (general)
Bacon, Alice Elizabeth
Bailey, Liberty Hyde and William Whitman
Baker, Harvey H. (Kennedy's lawyer)
Barnes, Charles Reid
Bishop, James Nathaniel
Brainerd, Ezra
Braithwaite, Robert
Briggs, George and Priscilla (grandchildren)
Britton, Nathaniel Lord and Elizabeth Gertrude
Brusati, Luigi

C (general)
Churchill, Joseph Richmond
Collins, Frank Shipley
Collins, James Franklin
Crocker, George Glover
Cummings, Prentiss
Cutter, Marshall Munroe

D (general)
Deane, Walter

E (general)

F (general)

Farlow, William Gilson
Faxon, Charles Edward
Faxon, Edwin
Faxon, Walter
Fernald, Merritt Lyndon
Floyd, Frederick Gillan

G (general)
Gibbs, W.B.
Goodalee, George Lincoln
Greenough, Charles Pelham
Grout, Abel Joel

H (general)
Heller, Amos Arthur
Hodges, Almon Danforth, Jr. and Frederick
Holzinger, John Michael
Hooker, Joseph Dalton
Huntington, John Warren

I (general)
Ingraham, Rhoby

J (general)
Jesup, Henry Griswold
Jones, Lewis Ralph

K (general)
Kennedy family
Kedder, Nathaniel Thayer

L (general)
Lorenz, Annei and William Alber

M (general)
Macoun, James Melville and John
Morong, Thomas

N -P (general)

Q (general)
Quincy Market Real Estate Trust

R (general)
Rand, Edward Lothrop
Richardson, William Lamber
Robertson, J Ross
Robinson, Benjamin Lincoln

S (general)
Sargent, Charles Sprague

T (general)
Thaxter, Roland
Tilton, George Henry
Trelease, William
True, Rodney Howard

U-V (general)

W (general)
Whorf, Edward Henry (general)
Williams, Emile Francis and Blanche

Botanical Journals
1. Feb. 28,1896-June 25,1900
2. July 4, 1900- Nov. 23,1905
3. Nov. 26,1905-June6,1908
5. Feb. 16,1912- Sept. 7,1915
6. Sept. 17,1915=May 31,1917

European Journals
7. May 12,1903-Sept. 14,1903--to Scotland and England; July 25,1905-Oct. 10,1905--to Antwerp, Amsterdam, Paris, Spain (to see eclipse), Switzerland, Brussels

Manuscript Materials (Box U)

Folder 1: a collection of quotations, ms; a common theme appears to be health ms about plants, alphabetically arranged by name of plant, describes uses historically. Occasionally interspersed in ms are typed pages of quotations from Shakespeare and Bacon using that plant name. Latter part of alphabet is much less well represented, so ms was probably not finished.
Folder 2: Abretonum - Ammoniac
Folder 3: Amomum - Asphodelus
Folder 4: Balaustia - Burnet
Folder 5: Cabbage - Cinquefoil
Folder 6: Citron - Cypress
Folder 7: Dactylus - Duckweed
Folder 8: Ebon tree - Eyebright
Folder 9: Faunow - Furze
Folder 10: Gabanum - Guaiacum
Folder 11: Hart's tongue - Hyssop
Foler 12: Indian Balsam - Knot grass
Folder 13: Lacca - Lupins
Folder 14: Mace - Myrtle
Folder 15: Napellus - Oak
Folder 16: Palm - Woodbing and miscellaneous notes

Box V

Typescript: "Bacon-Shakespeare Botany or the use by these two authors of the names of flowers, fruits, drugs and simples." Arranged alphabetically by name of plant, gives quotes under each name. Most sheets are in duplicate; possible the second sheets were intended to be interleaved with the manuscript on historic uses of plants (see above).
Small manuscript pertaining to the derivation of generic names. [formerly in Manuscript Case].


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