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Oakes, William, 1799-1848. William Oakes letters to James Watson Robbins, 1827-1902, bulk 1827-1847: A Guide.

Archives of the Gray Herbarium, Botany Libraries, Harvard University
Archives of the Gray Herbarium, Botany Libraries, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: gra00001
Repository: Archives of the Gray Herbarium, Botany Libraries, Harvard University
Creator: Oakes, William, 1799-1848.
Title: William Oakes letters to James Watson Robbins
Date(s): 1827-1902
Date(s): 1827-1847
Quantity: 1 collection (50 letters, in 6 folders, in file cabinet P1)
Language of materials: English


This collection was given to the Gray Herbarium by Walter Deane on May 14, 1918. Materials in the collection indicate that Deane conducted research on Oakes and Robbins in 1901 and 1902. The packaging in which the collection was found bore a label in what appears to be Deane's handwriting: "Wm Oakes to J W Robbins, W. Deane - I have the story of my getting these at home. May 17, 1818." Deane may have acquired the Oakes correspondence through Thomas Morong, whom Robbins mentored and to whom he left a collection of his specimens and papers.

Processed by:

Lynn McWhood
December 1981

Conditions Governing Access:

The collection is available by appointment for research. Researchers must register and provide two forms of valid photo identification. Please contact botref@oeb.harvard.edu for additional information.

Preferred Citation:

William Oakes letters to James Watson Robbins, Archives of the Gray Herbarium, Harvard University.

Related Materials

Other related material at the Botany Libraries, Harvard University Herbaria: Asa Gray correspondence files, 1832-1892; James Watson Robbins Papers.


William Oakes was born on July 1, 1799, in Danvers, Massachusetts. He entered Harvard in 1816 and developed a strong interest in natural history under the tutelage of William Dandridge Peck. After graduating from Harvard in 1820, Oakes studied law for three years. In 1824 he moved to Ipswich, Massachusetts and began to practice law. A few years later he gave up law and devoted himself to the study of natural history, particularly that of New England. In 1842 he was asked to write a brief description of the flora of the White Mountains for a geological survey report on New Hampshire, and he expended much energy on this project for the rest of his life. On July 31, 1848, he fell off a ferry between Boston and East Boston and drowned.

Scope and Content

The collection consists primarily of correspondence. There are about 50 letters from Oakes to James Watson Robbins, dated 1827-1847. There is also a letter written in shorthand to Oakes from an unidentified correspondent and a letter to Robbins from Charles Upham Shepard. Additional materials pertaining to Oakes and Robbins were apparently compiled by Walter Deane.

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