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Burley, John S., 1950-. Papers of John S. Burley, 1950- , 1986-1998: Guide.

Archives of the Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University


The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: Archives.
Call No.: IIA-15
Repository: Archives of the Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University
Creator: Burley, John S., 1950-.
Title: Papers of John S. Burley, 1950- , 1986-1998: Guide.
Date(s): 1986-1998
Quantity: 3.5 linear feet
Abstract: This collection focuses on the work John S. Burley completed as Research Director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Arnold Arboretum. It contains correspondence, administrative documents, and reports dating between 1986 and 1998.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

The papers of John S. Burley were acquired by the Arnold Arboretum Archives from the office of former director Robert Cook in 2006.

Processing Information:

Kayleigh Hinckley, February 2011.

Terms of Access:

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.

Terms of Use:

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 Note

Born in 1950, John S. Burley grew up in Brighton, England and attended university at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. There he earned a Bachelor of Science in 1982, as well as his Ph.D. in systematic botany in 1986. Burley was the recipient of several prizes in Botany, including the Dickie Prize, the Collie Prize, and the Turner Scholarship in Biology.
By 1987 Burley was awarded a Mercer Fellowship at the Arnold Arboretum . First, Burley was simultaneously a research associate in the Program for Collaborative Research in Pharmaceutical Science (a partnership with the University of Chicago) and a taxonomist for the National Cancer Institute's program to screen Southeast Asian rainforest plants for anti-cancer and anti-AIDS properties. Burley coordinated many of the NCI collection expeditions to the Philippines and Indonesia. In 1987, as part of a NCI mission, Burley collected a sample from a tree in a swamp forest in Sarawak, Borneo. Researchers found that an extract from this sample essentially halted the replication of HIV-1. Though difficult to harvest, AIDS researchers continue to work with the extract, looking for a cure. This experience in Southeast Asia became the groundwork for Burley's largest undertaking at the Arnold Arboretum.
Beginning in 1991, Burley became research director and spearheaded the Arnold Arboretum's partnership with the Global Environment Facility of the World Bank and the Indonesian government to overhaul the facilities of the Herbarium Bogoriense in Bogor, Indonesia. Additionally, he assisted in securing training for curatorial and field workers. Along with several other prominent international botanists, Burley advised the World Bank and the Indonesian government on the creation of a database of the nation's unique biodiversity with the aim of making information available to researchers.
From 1991 to the end of his tenure at Harvard University, Burley was deeply involved with the Indonesian undertaking. Unfortunately, the project was cut two years short in September 1998 due to escalating civil unrest in Indonesia. The University chose to end the contract with the government and the World Bank over concern for the safety of their researchers. At this point, Burley ended his time at the Arnold Arboretum.


The John S. Burley collection is organized in 5 series:

Scope and Contents

This collection contains correspondence, administrative information, and reports related to projects undertaken by John S. Burley during his tenure as director of the Arnold Arboretum's Southeast Asia Programs. Dated between 1986 and 1998, the majority of the collection deals with the GEF Indonesian Biodiversity project based in Bogor, Indonesia. Also documented are plant collection missions throughout Southeast Asia for the National Cancer Institute and the National Science Foundation.


Access to Finding Aid record in Hollis Classic or Hollis.

Other Finding Aids

Current version of this finding aid is available at the Archives of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. Additional John S. Burley correspondence can be found by searching the Arnold Arboretum Correspondence Index.

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