Library of the Gray Herbarium

Library of the Gray Herbarium


WILLIAM OAKES (1799-1848)
PAPERS

 

Biography

William Oakes was born on July 1, 1799. He entered Harvard in 1816 and developed a strong interest in natural history under the tutelage of William Peck. After graduating from Harvard in 1820, Oakes studied law for three years. In 1824 he moved to Ipswich, Mass., and began to practice law. A few years later he gave up law and devoted himself to the study of natural history, particularly that of New England. In 1842 he was asked to write a brief description of the flora of the White Mountains for a geological survey report on New Hampshire, and he expended much energy on this project for the rest of his life. He died on July 31, 1848, when he fell off a ferry between Boston and East Boston and drowned.

 

Scope and Content:

The William Oakes papers consist primarily of letters written by Oakes to James Watson Robbins, a doctor and amateur botanist (1801-1879; Yale 1822) who was a respected student of Potamogeton. There are roughly 50 letters, dating from 1827 to 1847. There is also a letter to Oakes from an unidentified correspondent (in shorthand) and a letter to Robbins from Charles Upham Shepard. There is also a folder of materials pertaining to Oakes and Robbins, apparently compiled by Walter Deane.

 

Provenance:

The Oakes papers were probably given to the Gray Herbarium by Walter Deane. There are materials in the papers which indicate that Deane researched Oakes and Robbins in 1901-1902, and a packet containing the materials was labeled as follows:

"Wm Oakes to J W Robbins, W. Deane - I have the story of my getting these at home. May 17, 1818"

This could be construed as a note to Deane, but the handwriting is similar to Deane's, so this is probably a note written by Deane, perhaps to someone at the Gray Herbarium.

No special restrictions on use are known.

6/82: The Oakes papers may have been acquired by Deane through Thomas Morong -- see Morong inventory.

10/82: The Oakes letters to Robbins were given to the Gray Herbarium by Walter Deane on May 14, 1918, according to a record found in Deane's papers.

 

Container Listing: (BOX W)

Folder 1: typed biographies of William Oakes and James Watson Robbins, both by Asa Gray, both presumably copied by Walter Deane; notes on family tree of William Oakes, 1902; 3 letters to Deane answering questions of his, 1902; a partial list of the Oakes/Robbins letters, in Deane's handwriting; ts of a portion of a letter, 1830, with no indication of writer or addressee; notes that Deane had inserted in a few letters

Folder 2: 2 undated letters; letters from Oakes to Robbins with the following dates: July 1, 1827; Sept. 3, 1827; Feb. 8, 1828; Aug. 14, 1828; Aug. 26, 1828; Sept. 20, 1828; Oct. 29, 1829; Jan. 21, 1829; April 20, 1829; May 12, 1829; May 22, 1829; catalogue of plants sent to Robbins by Oakes, spring 1821; July 9, 1829; July 24, 1829; aug. 7, 1829; Aug. 10, 1829; Sept. 17, 1829; Sept. 28, 1829; Oct. 6, 1829

Folder 3: letters from Oakes to Robbins with the following dates: Jan. 8, 1830; Sept. 15, 1830; Nov. 2, 1830; May 18, 1831; Feb. 7, 1832; Jan. 17, 1834; June 6, 1836; July 9, 1836; April 2, 1841; June 26, 1841; July 12, 1841; July 28, 1841; Sept. 10, 1841

Folder 4: letters from Oakes to Robbins with the following dates: Jan. 10, 1842; Jan. 13, 1842; Feb. 8, 1841; Feb. 17, 1842; March 21, 1842; May 4, 1842; Jan. 2, 1843; June 18, 1843; July 24, 1843; Aug. 6, 1843

Folder 5: letters from Oakes to Robbins with the follwoing dates: July 4, 1844; July 13, 1844; Aug. 5, 1845; Aug. 8, 1845; Aug. 9, 1845; Aug. 21, 1845; July 1, 1846; July 23, 1846; Sept. 13, 1846; Nov. 3, 1846; feb. 19, 1847; Aug. 7, 1847; letter to Oakes in shorthand dated April 12, 1833; letter to J.W. Robbins from C.U. shepard, Dec. 16, 1833

Folder 6: A bound set of extracts of letters from Oakes to Robbins and a biographical sketch of Oakes, all prepared by Walter Deane

 

Indexed under:
Oakes, William 1799-1848
Robbins, James Watson 1801-1879
Deane, Walter
Shepard, Charles Upham 1804-1886

 

 

 

| Gray Herbarium Archives Home Page |
| Botany Libraries Home Page | Harvard University Herbaria Home Page |