Library of the Gray Herbarium

Library of the Gray Herbarium


U.S. JAPAN EXPEDITION (1852-1854) and
U.S. NORTH PACIFIC EXPLORING EXPEDITION (1853-1856)

 

Background:

The U.S. Japan Expedition left for Japan in November, 1852, under the direction of Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry, for the purpose of opening Japan to foreign trade. Perry delivered U.S. demands to the Japanese in July, 1853, then sailed for China, and returned in March, 1854, to sign a treaty which opened the ports of Hakodate and Shimoda to U.S. ships. Plants were collected in Japan by S. Wells Williams of the American Mission at Macao and Dr. James Morrow, the expedition physician. A description of new species found was prepared by Asa Gray, with contributions by Francis Boott (Carex), Daniel C. Eaton (Ferns), William Sullivant (Mosses), and W.H. Harvey (Algae), and was published in Volume II of the Narrative of the expedition, pp. 305-332.

 

The U.S. North Pacific Exploring Expedition, under the direction of Captain Ringgold, who was succeeded by Captain Rodgers, also explored in the China Seas and Japan, although its overall scope was much broader than that (see Donald H. Pfister's introduction to Cryptogams of the United States North Pacific Exploring Expedition, 1853-1856, published by the Farlow, 1978). Charles Wright, the expedition botanist, was in Japan from May to June, 1855; James Small, a naval officer who also collected plants, was in Japan from May to mid-July, 1855. New species of phanogamous plants collected by Wright in Japan were described by Asa Gray in a paper read at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Dec. 14, 1858, and Jan. 11, 1859, and published in the Memoirs of the Academy, new series 6: 377-452. ("Diagnostic Characters of New Species of Phaenogamous Plants, collected in Japan by Charles Wright, Botanist of the U.S. North Pacific Exploring Expedition.") At the December meeting, Gray also read two papers on Ferns and Fungi of the Expedition: "Characters of Some New Filices, from Japan and Adjacent Regions, collected by Charles Wright in the North Pacific Exploring Expedition under Capain John Rodgers," by Daniel C. Eaton, and "Characters of New Fungi, collected in the North Pacific Exploring Expedition by Charles Wright," by M.J. Berkeley and M.A. Curtis. These were published in the Proceedings of the Academy, 4: 110-130.

 

References:

Berkeley, M.J. and Curtis, M.A. "Characters of New Fungi, collected in the North Pacific Exploring Expedition by Charles Wright." Proc. Am. Acad. 4: 111-130.

Eaton, Daniel C. "Characters of some New Filices, from Japan and Adjacent Regions, collected by Charles Wright in the North Pacific Exploring Expedition under Captain John Rodgers." Proc. Amer. Acad. 4: 110-111.

Gray, Asa. "Diagnostic Characters of New Species of Phaenogamous Plants collected in Japan by Charles Wright, Botanist of the U.S. North Pacific Exploring Expedition." Mem. Amer. Acad. n.s. 6: 377-452.

Gray, Asa, et. al. "List of Dired Plants Collected in Japan by S. Wells Williams, Esq. and Dr. James Morrow." Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan, performed in the years 1852, 1853, and 1864, under the command of Commodore M.C. Perry, United States Navy, by Order of the Government of the United States. Washington,, 1856 [1857]. Vol. II: 305-332.

 

Scope and Content:

The collection in consideration consists of drawings of new species of Japanese plants prepared by Isaac Sprague. The drawings are black and white and were apparently meant as plates which were not published. Most are about 11" x 14 1/2", although two are twice that size. Eight drawings have been identified as illustrating species described in Gray's account of Perry expedition plants; 18 drawings have been identifed as illustrating species described in Gray's account of Japanese plants of the North Pacific Expedition; and 2 drawings have been identifierd as illustrating species described in Eaton's account of the ferns of the North Pacific Expedition. Eight drawings have been at least partially identified as to species but have not been correlated with a publication. Twenty-eight drawings, including the two double-sized drawings, are completely unidentified. There are a total of 64 drawings.

 

Provenance:

According to a note with the collection, the drawings were given to the Gray Herbarium by Mrs. Asa Gray.

 

Container Listing: (BOX AZ)

1. Folder containing all the 11" x 14 1/2" drawings

2. Folder containing the two larger drawings

 

Indexed in main index under:
U.S. Japan Expedition
U.S. North Pacific Exploring Expedition
Sprague, Isaac 1811-1895
Gray, Asa 1810-1888

 

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