Library of the Gray Herbarium




Edith Scamman was born in Saco, Maine, on November 30, 1882. She grew up in Saco, except for a stay in San Francisco after her father's death (he died before she was ten years old). She went to Wellesley College and received a B.A. in English in 1907, then went to Radcliffe and earned an M.A. in comparative literature in 1909. Most of the following twenty-five years were taken up by church work and caring for her mother. In 1935, after her mother's death, she enrolled in botany courses at Radcliffe taught by M.L. Fernald. Through Fernald's instruction, Miss Scamman became interested in plant distributions in unglaciated areas of Alaska. In the summer of 1936 she made her first collecting trip to Alaska; she returned to Alaska in 1937, 1940, 1941 and afterwards until 1954, for a total of nine trips. Her trips resulted in the addition of some 5000 specimens to the Gray Herbarium.

During the summer of 1939 she studied at the Oxford University herbarium; consequently, she was in England when the Second World War began, and she was much impressed by that experience. She gave a number of talks about it after she returned to the U.S. Miss Scamman also continued her church work while pursuing her botanical interests, serving as president of the Missionary Council of the Congregational Church Women of Maine from 1940 to 1944.

Association with C.A. Weatherby at the Gray Herbarium led Miss Scamman to develop an interest in ferns. She published Ferns and Fern Allies of New Hampshire in 1947, and began studying the ferns of Costa Rica. She made four collecting trips to Costa Rica (in 1951, 1953, 1955 and 1956) and one trip to Puerto Rico and Guadelupe in 1960. She published four articles on Costa Rican ferns and was working on one at the time of her death, Nov. 4, 1967.

Miss Scamman served on the Visiting Committee of the Gray Herbarium from 1942 to 1946. She was appointed a research associate at the Gray Herbarium from 1949 to 1962 and an honorary research associate from 1962 until her death. She left the Gray Herbarium a large sum of money when she died.



Rolla M. Tryon and Alice F. Tryon, "Edith Scamman (1882-1967)," American Fern Journal 58: 1-4
Clippings about Miss Scamman in the collection (see below)


Scope and Content:

The Scamman materials currently in the archives include a spotty collection of correspondence; eleven diary books for 1936-1939 and 1961-1966, come with very few entries; a variety of notebooks and loose notes on Alaska and Canadian plants, New Hampshire ferns, Casta Rican ferns, general topics in natural history, etc.; 2 card indexes on Casta Rican ferns; slides and photographs of Costa Rica and Alaska; some published materials and other miscellany. There are also some materials pertaining to Miss Scamman's death -- e.g., obituary and funeral arrangements, letters of sympathy, matters of her estate.



The Scamman materials arrived int the archives in two batches. The first batch was deposited by Alice and Rolla Tryon in the library of the Gray Herbarium for safe-keeping; this lot was deposited by the librarian in the archives some time before 1981. A second lot of Scamman materials (mostly those stored on BoxP 10) was found in a basement storeroom and moved to the archives in 1983/84.


Container Listing:

1. Miscellaneous: photo of her mother (?); "My Bird Calendar"-- April 1896 (list of birds seen; also list of wildflowers seen); enrolment card and receipt for Radcliffe; postcard announcing a talk by Scamman; church pamphlet by Scamman, ca. WW II; photo of Alaska(?) and notes from Alaska; clipping of Thomas E. Dewey in Alaska; poem by C.A. Weatherby; reprint signed by Eric Hulten; 2 pictures of Scamman.

2. Correspondence:

Clair Alan Brown, 1962
Louise H. Coburn, 1922
Donovan Stewart Correll, 1961
Marcela (Cruz) Crary, 1962 and carbon of reply by ES
Wally Ernst, 1967 (British Flora/GPO First Day Cover)
Robert Faden, 1965 and draft of reply by ES
Harvard Board of Overseers, 1944, 1945, 1946
Leslie R. Holdridge, 1957, 1960 and n.d.; letters to him from ES
Josselyn Botanical Society, Christmas 1962 report
Conrad Vernon Morton, 1962 and drafts of reply
Rodolfo E G Pichi-Sermolli, 1961
Dr. Porsild, N.D., drafts of letters to
Louise Potter, 1966-1967
Clyde F. Reed, 1961 and drafts of replies
W H Wagner, Jr., n.d.
Robert Barton Weeden, 1962
Iva Loren Wiggins, 1961
Letter to Henry ?, n.d.

3. Clippings: 18 clippings about Scamman

4. Obituaries and Funeral Arrangements: 7 letters about placing obituaries; 5 letters about funeral arrangements; copies of sermons given.

5. Sympathy letters and estate matters: 10 sympathy notes; 4 letters pertaining to estate questions

6. Biographical Sketch: 18 letters concerning the biographical sketch of ES by the Tryons

7. Loose items found in diaries and address book: newspaper clippings, notes of addresses, stamps, etc.; also clippings found in second lot of materials. (pressed flowers were left in the diaries)


1. 1936: contains entries for July 17 to Sept 2 (partly Alaska)
2. 1937: contains entries for Jan 7-10; April 23-29; May 19 - June 15; July 1-14; July 21 - Aug 10; Sept 27 - 30; Oct 16 - Nov 2.
3. 1938: contains entries for March 5-10; March 16 - April 4; July 27-Oct 9
4. 1939: contains entries for July 14-16; September 1-7; September 20-30
5. 1961: has no diary entries
6. 1962: has no diary entries
7. 1963: contains entries for February 23; March 4-5, 8, 12: August 16-17
8. 1964: contains entries for February 28, September 17
9. 1965: contains entries for July 27-August 1; September 9-12
10. 1966: has no diary entries
11. 1966: contains entries for April 11-12, 28; May 11-25; July 23 - Sept 2 ; Nov 1 - 27




1. Notebook containing brief notes on plants collected in Iceland (1938): gives specimen number, name of plant, where & when collected.

Alaska and Canada:

2. Notebook containing brief notes on plants collected in Alaska; The first leaf says "Edith Scamman, Saco, Maine, Jan. 1937,".
3. List of Alaskan flowers, 1937, and other notes
4. Plants collected in Nome, Alaska
5. Plants collected in Alaska, 1949
6. Plants collected in Alaska, systematically arranged, ca. 1936-37?
7. Leguminosae collected in Alaska; Also misc. notes.
8. Flora of Alaska collected in 1940; organized systematically.
9. Plants collected in Alaska -- beginning of a systematic list, misc. notes.
10. Plants of Eagle Summit and Miller House region (Alaska)
11. Misc. notes -- Alaska plants?
12. misc. notes pertaining to Alaska
13. Notes pertaining to Alaska; map of Fairbanks region.
14. Specimens from Alaska; a few labels for Flora of Alaska
15. Notes on Alaskan Plants.
16. Notes on Alaska plants
17. Notes on Alaska plants
18. Plants collected on Cape Breton Island
19. Plants collected in Canada-Jasper, etc. ca. 1941
20. Ferns and fern allies of the Central Yukon Valley-manuscript and cards
21. Notes on Alaska and Canada plants; a few labels for Flora of British Columbia

New Hampshire

22. New Hampshire Ferns-- notes for revision; with 1 photo of a fern
23. New Hampshire Fern manuscript and 1st draft
24. New Hampshire ferns Costa Rica and south America
25. General notes on S. American ferns?
26. General notes on S. American ferns?
27. Notes on Costa Rican ferns?
28. Lists of ferns in the herbarium from Costa Rica
29. Notes on Costa Rican ferns
30. Notes on Costa Rican ferns; with a few labels
31. Notes on Costa Rican ferns
32. Notes on Costa Rican ferns


33. Misc. notes -- ferns of Tennessee, Blue Ridge wild flowers, Alaska plants, Ecuadorian plants; notes on lecture by Prof. Sharp, etc.
34. Notes on Carex, Eriophorum and other genera
35. Notes on a lecture about climate; notes on South American ferns, etc.
36. Misc. notes on plants

Notes on courses and lectures:

37. Notes on History of Science -- Prof. Cohen
38. Notes on History of Science -- Prof. Cohen; Geology lecture -- Don Leet
39. Notes on History of Science in America
40. Notes on Zoology
41. Notes on Biology 107
42. Notes on Paliobotany, 1963

General natural history notes, etc.

43. Notes on botany flowers, trees, mosses and ferns
44. Notes on birds, butterflies, stones / geology, misc.

Speech Notes:

45. Notes for a talk on Maine



1. Index on 3x5 cards: notes on ferns and fern allies of Costa Rica, grouped by family.
2. Index on 4x6 cards: notes on ferns of Costa Rica, grouped by family
Both indexes give names of plants and locations and dates of collections of specific specimens


Box 1: Costa Rica
Box 2: seems to be Costa Rica; includes city scenes from collecting trips, people
Box 3: seems to be Costa Rica; slides in front column came from box labeled "C.R. good"
Box 4: subject unclear; some may be Alaska and some may be mainland U.S.


12 color photographs of Alaska scenery and flowers
75 black and white photographs of Alaska scenery, plants, animals, and people

Published Material:

Studies in English and comparative Literature by former and present students at Radcliffe College. Radcliffe College Monographs No. 15. Presented to Agnes Irwen. Boston: Ginn & Co., 1910. Includes "The Alliterative Poen: Death and Life" by Edith Scamman.
"The Bread of Life," pamphlet for congregational woman's Home Missionary Federation, by Edith Scamman.
"O Beautiful for Spacious Skies," church pamphlet by Edith Scamman.
Congregational Woman's Home Missionary Federation, 21st Annual Report, 1926, with Historical Sketch of the Federation by Edith Scamman.
A Descriptive List of the Plants Collected by Dr. F.E. Blaisdell at Nome City, Alaska by Alice Eastwood -- with brief annotations and bits of plants pressed between the pages.


Indexed in Main index under:

Scamman, Edith Henry


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