Faxon, Charles Edward, 1846-1918. Papers of Charles Edward Faxon,
1882-1918: A Finding Aid.
Archives of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University
© 2011 The President and Fellows of Harvard College
Last update 2016 June 14
Repository: Archives of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, Jamaica Plain, MA
Call No.: II D CEF
Creator: Faxon, Charles Edward, 1846-1918.
Title: Papers, 1882-1918.
Quantity: 11 Linear Feet (1 archival box, 11 boxed sets of botanical
illustrations, and 42 bound volumes)
Access to Finding Aid record in Hollis Classic or Hollis+.
Current version of this finding
aid is available at the Archives of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard
Processed: September 1999.
The majority of the Charles Edward Faxon archives were acquired during his tenure
a staff member of the Arnold Arboretum.
The HOLLIS # for this collection is 008313284 and the file name is ajp00008.
Researchers seeking to examine archival materials are strongly encouraged to make
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.
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.
Charles Edward Faxon 1846-1918.
"Mr. Faxon joined the staff of the Arnold Arboretum in May,
1882, to take charge of the library and herbarium, which he managed successfully
until his death [February 6, 1918] and which he saw grow from insignificance to
importance. For these duties he was equipped with a critical knowledge of the
New England flora and a facility for acquiring languages which enabled him to
read currently those of nearly every country of Europe. It is, however, as a
botanical draftsman that Faxon is most distinguished. During his connection with
the Arboretum 1,920 of his drawings were published. With few exceptions they
illustrate works on trees which have been prepared here. His drawings unite
botanical accuracy with graceful composition, and the skill of his pencil has
placed him among the few great masters of his art whose names will live as long
as plants are studied.”
From Charles Sprague Sargent Annual
Report of the Arnold Arboretum, 1918.
In his review of The Silva of North
America,John Muir wrote of Faxon’s work
"At the first glance through the book, everyone must admire the fullness and
beauty of the plates. They were made in Paris, from drawings from life, by
Faxon, the foremost botanical artist in America‥. these are so tellingly drawn
and arranged, [that] any one with the slightest smattering of botany is enabled
to identify each tree, even without referring to the text.”
From John Muir,"Sargent’s Silva”Atlantic Monthly Vol. 92, July 1903.
Charles Edward Faxon was born on January 21, 1846, to
Elisha Faxon (1801-1855) and Hannah Whiting
Faxon (1805- after 1870), in the family’s home on Larmartine Street
which was within walking distance of the Arnold Arboretum. The
family moved from Abington, Massachusetts, a center of shoe
making, to Jamaica Plain before Charles’ birth in 1846 and his
father and his two brothers, Edwin and Marcus, were in the shoe
leather trade on Purchase Street in the Leather District in
Faxon was educated at the local public schools and lived and worked in
Jamaica Plain his entire life, eventually settling at 15
Park Lane. He graduated from the Lawrence Scientific School in
Cambridge as a civil engineer in
1867 and was an Instructor in Botany at the
Bussey Institution from 1879-1884. In the spring of 1882,
he was asked by Charles Sprague Sargent (1841-1927), the first
Director of the Arboretum, to join his staff. Faxon spent the remainder of his
career at the Arboretum as Assistant Director in charge of the library and herbarium
until his death from a fall at home in Jamaica Plain on
February 6, 1918.
In addition to illustrating the Silva, Faxon prepared drawings for Sargent’s other
publications: 644 for the Manual of the Trees of North America (exclusive of
Mexico) (1905); 200 for the two volumes of Trees and
Shrubs (1902-1913); 17 for the Forest Flora of Japan, and 285 for the journal Garden and Forest (1888-1898). He provided many of the illustrations for Daniel Cady Eaton’s
Ferns of North America (1879-1880). Thirteen of Faxon’s drawings were published in the journal
Rhodora, and three in the Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. Other publications include Gray’s Manual of Botany, Gardeners‘ Chronicle, and The Botanical Gazette. Between 1879 and 1913, 1,825 of Faxon’s drawings were published.
The Edward Faxon papers span the years of his Arboretum career and include
photographs, correspondence and original drawings, sketches, and published plates,
which make up the majority of the collection. His archive also includes biographical
material and obituaries, several black and white photographic portraits, and a small
amount of correspondence directed primarily to Arboretum colleagues or in reply to
individuals seeking plant material identification. Included in the correspondence
an undated, handwritten list of publications in which his drawings appeared.
- SERIES I: Biographical material and photographs
- SERIES II: Correspondence
- SERIES III: Plates: Silva of North America
- SERIES IV: Original Artwork: Silva of North
- SERIES V: Drawings: Silva of North America
- SERIES VI: Drawings: Manual of the trees of North
- SERIES VII: Drawings: Manual of the trees of North
- SERIES VIII: Sketches and drawings of trees, shrubs, vines and herbaceous
- SERIES IX: Press proofs: Manual of the trees of North
- SERIES X: Copper etching plates: Silva of North
- Series: I Biographical material and photographs
- Folder 1Biographical material
- Several pages from Ancestry.com, Ancestry Library edition
used document Chreles Edward Faxon’s vital statistics. Includes
pages from: United States Fereral Cencuses, Boston City Directories
from 1878, 1882, and 1888, United States Passport Applications, and
Harvard Alumni Directory 1913.
- Series: II Correspondence
- Folder 1Correspondence from Faxon to:
- Mr. Wilson,
Date: May 28, 1914
News from the Arboretum
- Dear Sir,
Date: March 30, 1915
- H.P. Kelsey,
Date: June 30, 1915
- Mr. Kelsey,
Date: August 6, 1915
- Mr. Wilson, News from the Arboretum.
Date: July 7, 1917
- Also includes one handwritten note “C. E. Faxon has contributed drawings to the following
- Folder 2Correspondence from Faxon to:
- Dr. Robert G. Leavitt, assistant to
Oakes Ames, 6 letters
May 1, 1896- [March 1890?].
- Mr. Rose1 letter,
- Series: IV Original Artwork: Silva of North America
- Box 1
- Box 2
- Box 3
- Box 4
- Box 5
- ROSACEAE (Crataegus)
- Box 6
- FERNS, INSECTS
- Series: V Drawings: Silva of North America
- Series: VI Drawings for: Manual of the trees of North America (exclusive of Mexico) by Charles Sprague Sargent ; with six hundred and forty-four illustrations from drawings
by Charles Edward Faxon. Boston; New York: Houghton, Mifflin; Cambridge: Riverside
Eight bound volumes with spine title: Drawings for Manual of Trees.
Transferred from Botany Libraries, Harvard University Herbaria, September
- Box 1Vol. 1: Fig. 1-79
[Lacks fig. 1]
- Box 3Vol. 3: Fig. 160-239
- Box 4Vol. 4: Fig. 240-319
- Box 5Vol. 5: Fig. 320-399
- Box 6Vol. 6: Fig. 400-479
- Box 7Vol. 7: Fig. 480-560
- Box 8Vol. 8: Fig. 561-642
- Series: VII Drawings for: Manual of the trees of North America (exclusive of Mexico) by Charles Sprague Sargent ... with seven hundred and eighty-three illustrations
from drawings by Charles Edward Faxon and Mary W. Gill. 2d ed. Boston, New York:
Houghton Mifflin Company, 1922.
- Box 1Drawings for the second edition of the Manual of the trees of
North America (exclusive of Mexico) (1922) with spine title: Drawings of
Manual of Trees, New and Revised Drawings for the Second Edition.
1 bound volume.
- Series: VIII Drawings and sketches of trees, shrubs, vines and herbaceous plants.
This series consists of Faxon’s illustrations in their earliest form, as
pencil sketches, which he then made into more finished drawings by covering
the reverse side of the drawing with pencil lead. This allowed him to
transfer the image to a new sheet of paper and further refine, or apply ink,
to the subsequent drawing. Faxon appears to have used this method for all of
his illustrations. The collection also includes sketches with notes and, in
some cases, only the finished illustration. Almost all of the sketches are
on Arnold Arboretum stationary, watermarked “AMERICAN LINEN PAPER.” The
drawings are not labeled. Each drawing has been enclosed in a sleeve to
mitigate further transfer of the graphite.
- Folder 3Thirty-one unlabeled sketches and drawings, some with annotations and notes.
- Series: IX Press Proofs: Manual of the Trees of North America, 1922
- Folder 1
Proofs of drawings for 2d ed. of C.S. Sargent’s
“Manual” with additional drawings by Mary W. Gill
(Description taken from inscription on original envelope).
[Mary Wright Gill was a painter and illustrator
who traveled and sketched extensively in Indian Territory with her
husband, De Lancey Walker Gill, who was employed as
an artist for the United States Bureau of Ethnology
for a number of years.] Twenty-nine sheets of printers proofs.
- Series: X Copper etching plates: Silva of North America
- Folder 2Yucca arborescens