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Shaw, George Russell, 1848. Papers of George Russell Shaw, 1890s-1930s. A Finding Aid.

Archives of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University


Harvard University

© 1999 The President and Fellows of Harvard College

Last update 2016 June 14

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Arnold Arboretum Archives of Harvard University, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130.
Call No.: II A-1 GRS.
Creator: George Russell Shaw, b. 1848.
Title: Papers of George Russell Shaw, circa 1890-1930.
Quantity: 4 boxes
Abstract: The George R. Shaw papers include works on the botanical and systematic identification, description, and illustration of pines. The collection covers botanical works from the turn of the century to approximately 1930 including Shaw's notes and illustrations in miniature notebooks from journeys to Europe and Mexico.


Access to Finding Aid record in Hollis Classic or Hollis.

Other descriptions of this material

Current version of this finding aid is available at the Archives of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University.

Processing Information:

Processed June 1995.

Acquisition Information:

Provenance: In large part the George R. Shaw Papers were acquired during Mr. Shaw's tenure at the Arnold Arboretum. However, his unique work entitled On the Identification of the Trees and Shrubs of Massachusetts at All Seasons of the Year was generously donated by the Shaw family in 1983. This collection was transferred from the Arnold Arboretum’s departmental holdings to the Arboretum’s Archives in 1984.

Access Restrictions:

Researchers seeking to examine archival materials are strongly encouraged to make an appointment. The Director, or an office of origin, may place restrictions on the use of some or all of its records. The extent and length of the restriction will be determined by the Director, office of origin, and the Archivist and will be enforced equally for all researchers.

Use Restrictions:

The copyright is held by The President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Arnold Arboretum Archives of Harvard University. The copyright on some materials in the collection may be held by the original author or the author's heirs or assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining written permission from the holder(s) of copyright and the Arnold Arboretum Archives prior to publishing any quotations or images from materials in this collection.
Photocopies may be made at the discretion of the Arnold Arboretum Archives staff. Permission to make photocopies does not constitute permission to reproduce or publish materials outside the bounds of the fair use guidelines.

Biographical Sketch

George Russell Shaw (1848-1937), a native of Parkman, Maine was a 1869 graduate of Harvard University. He studied architecture and became an associate of the Hunnewell family of Wellesley, Massachusetts. Shaw & Hunnewell Architects designed several projects including Pierce Hall at Harvard University and the Eye & Ear Infirmary in Boston.
At the age of 50, Shaw began studying the genus Pinus (pines) using the Arnold Arboretum as his headquarters. This avocation became his principal occupation. Shaw traveled to Cuba, Mexico, and Europe to view pines in their native habitat and to collect specimens, as well as to study in libraries and herbaria.
George R. Shaw's first major publication was The Pines of Mexico in 1909. Shaw was able to distinguish 18 species of pines out of a large number that had confused botanists. The work included a systematic description of each species and variety, a key, notes on distribution, and discussion of previous botanical treatments. In addition to the scientific merit of Shaw's work he added remarkable illustrations, drawings of cones and needles, and delightful habit sketches of entire trees in their typical surroundings.
In 1914, Shaw published Genus Pinus, a similar systematic, illustrated monograph on pines world wide. In the ensuing years, Shaw collaborated on Plantae Wilsonianae, E. H. Wilson and Alfred Rehder's systematic catalogue of the Chinese flora.
George R. Shaw was a significant contributor to the Arnold Arboretum. Shaw financed the fire proofing of the Hunnewell Building attic (now the Arnold Arboretum Living Collections area) and the laying of a wood floor in the area. He organized an extensive conifer exhibit, mounting specimens and providing glass cases for their display to the public in what became known as the conifer room. Shaw's conifer collection is now housed at the Harvard University Herbaria in Cambridge.

Scope and Content

The George R. Shaw papers reflect Mr. Shaw's contribution to horticulture and botany as an authority on systematic identification, description, and illustration of pines. The collection covers Shaw's work from the turn of the century to approximately 1930 including his many notes and illustrations in miniaturenotebooks from journeys to Europe and Mexico.
The collection is organized into the following series: 1.Biographical Material; 2.Correspondence; 3.Notebooks; 4.Annotated Reprints; 5.Scrapbooks; 6.Maps; 7.Manuscripts; 8.Publications; 9.Illustrations.

Container List