Expeditions and Discoveries Sponsored Exploration and Scientific Discovery in the Modern Age

Asa Gray papers, 1830-1953, 1830-1888 (bulk), Wilkes Expedition: agreements signed by Gray and Wilkes. AG 1, Correspondence #6.

Gray, Asa, 1810-1888, creator
The Asa Gray papers date from 1830-1953 (bulk 1830-1888) and document his career in botany. The collection primarily contains correspondence, travel journals, manuscripts, drafts of published works, notes for lectures, certificates, and original artwork. This collection is divided into 6 series which are largely a reflection of how the materials were stored over the years. The series are: biographical materials, correspondence, botanical manuscripts, publications, writings, and certificates.
Place Of Origin:
No place, unknown, or undetermined
8 linear feet (17 document boxes, 3 oversize boxes, 8 oversize folders in flat file, 1 scrapbook volume)
Digital Format:
Books and documents
Bentham, George
Canby, William Marriott
Candolle, Alphonse de
Darwin, Charles
Drayton, Joseph
Eaton, Daniel Cady
Engelmann, George
Fry, Edward
Gray, Asa
Gray, Alice
Gray, Elsada
Gray, Jane Loring
Greene, Benjamin Daniel
Henry, Joseph
Hooker, Joseph Dalton
Howland, Joseph Emery
Jackson, Charles L
Jackson, Susan Mary Loring
Redfield, John Howard
Robinson, Benjamin Lincoln
Sprague, Isaac
Harvard University.
Lowell Institute.
United States Exploring Expedition (1838-1842)
Arranged in six series: Series I. Biographical materials -- Series II. Correspondence -- Series III. Botanical manuscripts -- Series IV. Publications -- Series V. Writings -- Series VI. Degrees and certificates of membership in various societies.
Asa Gray papers, Archives of the Gray Herbarium, Harvard University.
Often called the “Father of American Botany,” Asa Gray was instrumental in establishing systematic botany as a field of study at Harvard University and, to some extent, in the United States. His relationships with European and North American botanists and collectors enabled him to serve as a central clearing house for the identification of plants from newly explored areas of North America. He also served as a link between American and European botanical sciences. Gray regularly reviewed new European scientific works and was an early proponent of Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection. Asa Gray was born in Sauquoit, New York, on November 18, 1810, to Roxana Howard Gray and Moses Wiley Gray. He attended grammar school in Clinton and continued his education at Fairfield Academy, enrolling in Fairfield’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1829. Gray’s interest in botany developed during this time and he began corresponding with botanists Lewis Caleb Beck and John Torrey. Gray completed his M.D. in 1831 and accepted a teaching position at a boys’ school in Utica, New York. For the next few years he divided his time between teaching, collecting, and working as Torrey’s assistant. His first publications appeared in the winter of 1834-1835. In 1836 he became curator at the New York Lyceum of Natural History. He also began work on a North American flora with Torrey. The first volume of “Flora of North America”was published in two parts in 1838. Gray was appointed botanist of the United States Exploring Expedition under Charles Wilkes in 1836 but withdrew after the expedition was delayed. In 1838 he accepted an appointment as Professor of Botany at the University of Michigan on condition that he first be allowed a year of study in Europe.
He departed in November 1838 and spent the next 12 months visiting herbaria and meeting prominent botanists in Great Britain, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and Austria. Complications at Michigan prevented Gray from starting the professorship there. Instead he returned to New York to work on the second volume of “Flora.” In 1842 he moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to accept the newly endowed Fisher Professorship at Harvard. He remained in that position for the rest of his life. In addition to teaching Gray assumed responsibility for the Harvard Botanical Garden and built a herbarium and library. He was a prolific correspondent and writer. His 1848 “Manual of the Botany of the Northern United States” became the standard field manual for botanists in the Northeast and his textbooks were used in classes across the U.S. In 1848 Gray married Jane Lathrop Loring. She assisted him in his work and accompanied him on trips to Europe, the Allegheny Mountains, and to the American West. Gray died in Cambridge on January 30, 1888.
Electronic finding aid available https://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:FMUS.GRA:gra00026
Gray Herbarium Library, Botany Libraries, Harvard University
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