Berlandier, Jean Louis, d. 1851. Papers of Jean Louis Berlandier, 1825-1855: A Guide
Archives, Gray Herbarium Library, Harvard University Herbaria
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138
(c) 1998 The President and Fellows of Harvard College
Repository: Gray Herbarium Library
Title: Papers of Jean
Louis Berlandier, 1825-1855
Berlandier's papers were purchased from his widow by Lt. Darius N. Couch in 1853. Couch gave the bulk of the documents to the Smithsonian
Institution but wanted to sell Berlandier's herbarium. At
some point in 1853, Spencer F. Baird of the Smithsonian apparently
contacted Gray about buying the plants, and
Gray asked C.W. Short if he would be willing to put up the money for
the collection. Short responded on Nov. 10, 1853, that he was "heartily willing" to
purchase the collection. Apparently Gray took no action at this point, and in June, 1854, both Baird and Short wrote Gray about getting the purchase taken care of. Baird wrote
Gray on June 24, 1854, as follows: "I have written to Mr. Couch to know whether he
$400.00 for the plants. His estimate was $500.00, but he may be willing to take less.
I shall know
in a few days, and if his answer is in affirmative, will immediately box up the collection.
stipulation was you will remember that a complete series be reserved for the Smithsonian Institution, or as nearly as possible and that in some suitable way
Berlandier be commemorated in any publication which might be made. The Mss and drawings he agreed to allow the use of, but would not part with them
permanently." Couch agreed to the $400.00 offer, and Baird sent 75 cubic feet of plants
package of manuscripts and drawings to
Gray on July 6, 1854. Short wrote that he sent a check on July 13, 1854. Gray worked
plants in the following months and sent sets to the Smithsonian and to Short around
1855. De Candolle probably did not send Gray the notebook listing Berlandier's specimens until later in 1855, as his letters of April
24, 1855, and August 7, 1855, talk about the late M. Moricand's
notebook but indicate that de Candolle hadn't had a chance to copy it yet.
According to A.P. de
Candolle,Jean Louis Berlandier was born near Fort-de-l'Ecluse, France, to a poor family. Various estimates have
been given for his birth year: John Briquet suggested around 1805, Samuel Geiser suggested
before 1805, and C.H. Muller suggested that Geiser's guess was "conservative." At
a young age
(again according to de Candolle) Berlandier went to Geneva, where he
became an apprentice in a drug firm. During his apprenticeship he managed to educate
well that he came to de Candolle's tutelage, Berlandier read a paper titled "Du mode de
reproduction par fecondation de quelques vegetaux de la famille des Campanulaiees"
before the Philosophical Society of Geneva on Jan. 27, 1825, and prepared a "Memoire sur la famille des Grossulariees," which was
published in 1826 in the MEMOIRES DE LA SOCIETE DE PHYSIQUE ET
D'HISTOIRE NATURELLE DE GENEVE (3: 43-60). An abstract of the Grossulariee
work became part of de Candolle's PRODROMUS (3: 447-483, 1828). Berlandier
looked so promising that a small group of Geneva botanists (de
Candolle,Philippe Dunant, Stefano Moricand and Philippe Mercier) decided to send him to Mexico to collect plants.
Berlandier sailed on Oct. 14,
1826, and arrived at Panuco, Mexico, on December 15,
1826. As de Candolle had arranged an appointment to a commission established to survey
the boundary between Mexico and Texas, Berlandier gradually made his way to Mexico
where he was expecting to join the commission. A shortage of funds by the Mexican
delayed the commission's departure, but it finally left on Nov. 10, 1827, under the
direction of General don Jose Manual Rafael Simeon de Mier y Teran. The survey group reached Laredo in February, 1828,
and went on to Bexar, which they left on Arpil 13, intending to head
for Nacogdoches. As Berlandier and a number of others caught
maleria, General Teran decided to go on to Nacogdoches with a small
contingent and sent the rest back to Béxar. Berlandier made some excursions from Bexar,
including a trip in November-December, 1828, to the headwaters of the Guadeloupe and a trip to New Orleans in March-May, 1829.
In August, 1829, Berlandier's group
went to Matamoros, where they stayed for a while and where
Berlandier eventually settled. It seems that the survey commission ended its work
time: Geiser at one point (p. 55) gives the impression that the Commission was dissolved
1829 and at another point (p. 69) gives Nov. 15, 1830, as "the approximate date when
Commission was dissolved." Whatever the case, Berlandier seems to have been based
in Matamoros from August, 1829, on. JOURNEY
TO MEXICO recounts trips from Matamoros to Nuevo Leon in April, 1830 (to get vaccine); from Matamoros to Brazos de Santiago in August, 1830 (to get turtles for Gen. Teran); from
Matamoros through the territory of Tamaulipas, Oct. 1830 to Feb.
1831 (to survey roads for Gen. Teran); and from Matamoris, Nov. - Dec. 1831 (to look
of wood good for dyeing).
According to listings of shipments of plant specimens by Berlandier (as
reported in JOURNEY TO MEXICO, 616), Berlandier sent some 52,000 dried plants to de Candolle from April 25, 1827, to July 14,
1831. De Candolle was highly dissatisfied with what he received, and communications
between the two men ended. The value of Berlandier's work has been the subject of
ever since. Berlandier continued to study Mexican plants on his own. JOURNEY TO MEXICO describes an April - July, 1834, trip in which he
retraced earlier explorations made for the survey commission in an effort to make
up for plants
that were lost then. He accumulated botanical notes and botanical plates, and Muller suggests that he may have seen himself as another
Humboldt. He published MEMORIAS DE LA COMISION DE LIMITES ..., a
sixteen page pamphlet which describes new plants found during the
survey commission's work, in 1832; a short article
about the commission's work, 1840; an article titled "Caza del oso y cibolo,
en el nor-oeste de Tejas" in 1844; and with Rafael Chowell, a mineralogist on the boundary commission, DIARIO
DE VIAGE DE LA COMISION DE LIMITES QUE PUSO EL GOBIERNO DE LA
REPUBLICA, BAJO LA DIRECCION DEL EXMO. SR. GENERAL DE DIVISION D.
MANUEL DE MIER Y TERAN in 1850. [For details on bibliography see JOURNEY TO
Berlandier established himself as a pharmacist and doctor in Matamoros. He was apparently
well-respected, and he spoke of himself as an ALCALDE in one of the manuscripts in this collection. A story is told that he was charged with delivering a demand
General Zachary Taylor that the Americans not cross the Colorado at the beginning
of the U.S.
war with Mexico. Berlandier lived with a Mexican woman, with whom he had several children.
He died in the summer of 1851 while trying to cross the San
References: Berlandier, Jean Louis. JOURNEY TO
MEXICO DURING THE YEARS 1826 to 1834. Translated by Sheila M. Ohlendorf,
Josette M. Bigelow, and Mary M. Standifer. Introduction by C.H. Muller. Texas State
Assn., 1980. Briquet, John. BIOGRAPHIES DES BOTANISTES A GENEVE DE 1500 A
1931. BULLETIN DE LA SOCIETE BOTANIQUE SUISSE 50a (1940): 36-39. De
Candolle, Augustin-Pyramus. MEMOIRES ET SOUVENIRS. Geneve: Joel
Cherbuliez, 1826. p. 336-337. Geiser, Samuel Wood. NATURALISTS OF THE
FRONTIER. Southern Methodist University, 1937. pp. 38-72.
The Jean Louis Berlandierpapers consist of several journals or autobiographical accounts; a large volume of notes on plants of Mexico, including a number of illustrations; miscellaneous small botanical manuscripts including two that date from Berlandier's time in Geneva; a listing of
Berlandier's plants prepared by Moricand and Alphonse de Candolle; and a manuscript
about Berlandier's plants by Asa Gray.
JOURNALS: There are three packets of journal materials which deal with the years
1830-1831, with a fair amount of overlapping among them. These do not appear to
be original journals, but rather they seem to be various drafts prepared
with publication in mind. A fourth packet contains a brief, possibly incomplete, account
of an excursion to Fronton de Sa Isabel in 1845 and an account of Berlandier's arrest and forced trip to Mexico City in 1849, while he was
serving as ALCALDE of Matamoros. These also appear to have been prepared with publication in mind. It is not clear
if these journals are grouped as Berlandier left them,
as they were all gone over by Sereno Watson, and possibly organized by him. It is
also not clear
what portion of Berlandier's journals are his own work (see introduction to JOURNEY TO
MEXICO). Inserted in one of the 1830-1831 journals was what appears to
be a draft of a letter sent by Berlandier to Charles Mirbel on December 20, 1838. This is of special
interest because Alphonse de Candolle, in a footnote to his father's
memoirs (p. 337) referred to having discovered that Berlandier had written the Museum at Paris on that date. De Candolle emphasized the long delay between this letter and Berlandier's original work in Mexico and suggested that
Berlandier was pretending to be dead out of shame. The draft letter indicates that
heard from Mirbel in 1833 and had written to him three
times without receiving a response.
BOTANICAL MANUSCRIPTS: The botanical manuscripts can be divided into two broad
groups: manuscripts by Berlandier and manuscripts by others about his plants. The botanical manuscripts by Berlandier were bound into four volumes in a
somewhat haphazard arrangement, most likely at the Gray Herbarium
during Asa Gray's life since the bindings use paper from American periodicals and
books carry bookplates labeling them as gifts of Asa Gray. One of the
four volumes has since been disbound. The major sections of botanical notes are 1) about 750 pages containing descriptions of new plants, arranged alphabetically by families; 2) about 250 pages of brief notes
on plants, arranged alphabetically by families, including notes on uses; 3) about
240 pages of
descriptions of "Gramineas de los contornos de Mexique." There are also 113
pages of illustrations, largely botanical, drawn by Lino
Sánchez y Tapia and Berlandier. The smaller sections include a manuscript of "Memoire sur la famille des Grossulariees" and a manuscript of "Du mode de reproduction par fecondation de
quelques vegetaux de la famille des Campanulaiees," both written in Geneva, and several articles pertaining to Mexican plants:"Nombres botanicos correspondientes a las denomiraciones Mexicanas que Abate
Clairgeno empone a los vegetales" (referred to as the Cervantes mss), "Des plantes
usuelles chez les Indiens du Mexique," and "Boissons spiritueuses retirees du
Regne vegetal." The manuscripts about Berlandier's plants consist of a list of his plants
prepared by Moricand and Alphonse de Candolle, a manuscript by Asa Gray listing and describing plants in
Berlandier's collection, and a list by I.M. Johnston of plants described
by Berlandier in MEMORIAS DE LA COMISION DE LIMITES.... There is also a letter from C.W. Short containing excerpts
from a lost de Candolle letter. Information pertaining to Berlandier's
plants can be found in other items in the archives. Plant List Book 2
contains an identification list of Berlandier's plants, arranged numerically, 1 -
3230 with gaps,
pages 4 - 68, entries in Asa Gray's hand. Letters of Spencer F. Baird,C.W. Short, and Alphonse
de Candolle in the Historic Letters file also contain information relevant to the
- Container List:
- BOX AB, AM & AN
- 1. On cover, in Sereno Watson's
hand: "Matamoros to Monterey and return. Apr. 1-26th (1830) / Matamoros
to Tampico and S. Fernando Oct. 14 - Feb. 23."Nest leaf begins narrative of trip to Monterey, 20 pages. Next
section begins "Voyage de Matamoros a Tampico," starts Oct. 14  and goes to Nov. 29, 59 pages. next comes a leaf titled "Diario de Viage Luis Berlandier 1830-1831";narrative continues Dec. 3,1830 - Dec. 10, 1830, 14 pages, text is in
French. [Content of this journal is similar to that of the journal
published in JOURNEY TO MEXICO, corresponding to pages 449-461 and
463-489 of the printed version. The first section is closer to the printed text than
the rest. This is
probably an earlier draft stage of the journal.
- 2. On cover, in Sereno Watson's
hand: "Journal - Aug.13/30 - Feb. 28/31; Portions of it are variously repeated." First sheet says "1830 Aout 14-28 Oct. journal" in upper left corner and has other
jottings. On back are drafts of two letters in Spanish. Next sheet says
"Journ: 1830 Aout 13-Sept" in upper left corner, begins Aout 23, jumps to late September
through early October, 5 pp; next section titled "Voyage pour reconnoitre les principaux
de l'Etat de Tamaulipas" covers Oct. 14-Nov. 19, 63 pages including a map; next section titled "Route de Tampico
a Matamoros" covers Jan. 29, 1831 - Feb. 23, 29 pages, includes
marginal notes which appear to be plant numbers.
Roughly 5 3/4" x 8 1/4", folded into signatures but not bound. Text is in French,
appears to be a
more polished draft of a letter from Berlandier to Charles Francois Brisseau Mirbel,botanical professor in Paris,
dated Dec.20, 1838.
- 3. Cover labeled "Diario de Tamaulipas No. 1"; "Nota de F.A.Q. sobre Geografia de Tamaulipas" is scratched out; "Diario de Tarnava y Berlandier en Tamaulipas"; in pencil, in Sereno Watson's hand
"1830 Oct 14 - Nov. 14." Begins Oct. 14, 1830, continues to Nov. 14, 28 pages, plant numbers in margin, text in Spanish. Roughly 6 1/4" x 8 1/2", folded
sewn signature. Loose sheet gives an "Itineraria" and "Camino" from Santillana. Grouped with this diario is a fragmentary set of pages in French, starting in the middle of a sentence, dated
Oct. 29 partway through, 9 pages. Same size as above, folded into signature, not sewn.
these look like fairly polished drafts. The name Tarnava in title probably refers
to don Constatino Tarnava, who was with the Corps of Engineers on the Commission, according to note, p. 180 of JOURNEY TO MEXICO.]
- 4. Cover sheet labeled "1845. Excursion au Fronton
de Sa Isabel. 1849. Matamoros to Mexico." in Sereno Watson's hand. First section begins
on July 4, 1845, continues for five pages without any other reference to date. very
neat draft, possibly not complete. Text in French. Next section begins Nov. 1849, is headed "Chap. PRISON, NOTIFICATION, ESCORTE JUSQUALA CAPITALE DE
L'ETAT; ATTENTATS DU GOUVERNEUR DN JESUS CARDENAS: - CONFIANCE DE CE
FONCTIONNAIRE DANS SES ACTES INCONSTITUIONNELS: NULLITE DE LA
COMMISSION PERMANENTE DU CONGRES - REPONSE ABSURDE DE LA SUPREME
COUR DE JUSTICE: - NOTRE PASSEPORT; RETOUR A MATAMOROS : REMARQUES
METEOROLOGIQUES SUR VICTORIA DE TAMAULIPAS." Recounts Berlandier's arrest and forced trip to Mexico City while he
was serving as ALCALDE of Matamoros.
Starts Nov.20, 1849, goes to Jan.8, 1850. 56 pp. Text in French,
polished draft. Roughly 6 1/4" x 8 1/2:, signatures sewn but not bound.
- BOTANICAL MANUSCRIPTS (by Berlandier):
- 5. "Memoire sur la famille des Grossulariees par J.L.
Berlandier." 16 p. ms with 3 pages of illustrations and a small
piece of paper with drawings. An inscription on first page in another
hand reads "Vu; bon pour imprimer dans Memoires de la soc. De Phys. et d'Hist. G.
la Comm d'...." Probably ms for Berlandier's article published in 1826 in the MEMOIRES DE LA SOCIETE DE PHYSIQUE ET D'HISTOIRE NATURELLE DE
- 6. Bound volume
of ms labeled "Berlandier / Botanica I" on spine. Title page says "Botanica";
following page says "Descripciones." According to C.H. Muller (JOUNREY TO MEXICO,
the volume consists of about 750 pages, including "a section of full botanical
descriptions of proposed new genera and species arranged alphabetically by families; a section of similarly named and described plants which are not assigned to families, and which are characterized
according to the Linnaean sexual system..." The alphabetical section starts
with Amentaceae and goes through Zygophylleae,
comprising the great bulk of volume. The Linnaean section takes up
about 60 pages (it is not entirely clear where it ends). The descriptions in both
sections are in
both Latin and French. There follows a section titled "Boissons spiritueuses retirees du
Regne vegetal," which lists 4 Mexican beverages and describes them
in French (2 pp.). There follow some miscellaneous notes, with labels
such as Carpologie, Agriculture - Tamaulipas, quelques plantes de la Nouvelle Californie;
page manuscript titled "Du mode de reproduction par fecondation de quelques vegetaux de
la famille des Campanulaiees, par J.L. Berlandier, (Memoire lu a la societe de philosophie
Geneve dans sa seance du 27 Janvier 1825)"; notes on LOUP DE MEXIQUE(coyote) with note "Reponse donnee le 5 Janvier 1851 au ,,,
Samuel George Muton (?) de Philadelphia..." The miscellaneous section is entirely
- 7. Bound volume of manuscript labeled "Berlandier
/ Botanica II" on spine. First page labeled "a estudiar en Viajes / Histoire Naturelle
des Plantes employees dans la matiere medicale les art etc. des Mexicains andiens
et modernes." List - "Plantas a estudiar en Mexico," 3p. Main
section is notes (about 250 pp.) arranged alphabetically by family; notes are mostly
citations of descriptions, notes on habitat and use, occasionally description; go
from Amaryllideae to Qygophylleae with a small section added at end.
- 8. Bound volume of manuscript labeled "Berlandier
/ Cervantes Mss" on spine. The original of the title page was removed for use in Mrs.
Gray's autograph album. A substitute page in Miss Day's hand says "Botanique. Nombre
botanicos correspondientes a las denominaciones Mexicanas que Abate Clairgeno empone
vegetales. Don.Vic. Jul. Cervantes dedit. Mexico 1827 extra Juan Luis Berlanier cum
addendis." 34 pp, in Spanish; at end says"don Vic J. Cervantes mss." Next section: "Des
plantes useuelles chez les Indiens du Mexique" 11 pp., in French. Main section
"Gramineas de los contornos de Mexico," gives names, descriptions, habitat notes mostly
in Latin. About 240 pages. [Note: According to Muller (JOURNEY TO MEXICO,xi), don Vicente Cervantes was a Spanish and Mexican doctor and botanist.]
- 9. Disbound manuscript consists
of 7 sections of 10 botanical plants each accompanying contents lists; 1 section of 13 plants with a contents list; and 30 pages of drawings without cover sheets, mostly plants, but also scenery and maps. Some of the latter group are dated 1827 and 1828; most of the other drawings were probably done later.
- BOTANICAL MANUSCRIPTS (about Berlandier):
- 10. "Plantes de Berlandier,"notebook containing names for Berlandier specimens,
1-2351, with gaps. Note at beginning says it consists of names supplied by M.
Moricand with addition of a few names by [Alphonse] de Candolle; sent to Asa Gray by Alphonse de Candolle in 1855. 59pp, about 7" x 81/2".
- 11. Letter from C.W. Short to Asa Gray,Dec. 29,1854, containing translated quotes from a lost letter of Alphonse de Candolle
to Asa Gray. Manuscript in Asa Gray's hand titled "Pl.
Berlandiereanae Ranuncul. - Compositae incl.," about 80 pp, consisting of a list of plant names with Berlandier's numbers, location data,
and sometimes detailed descriptions. According to Muller, this contains "some twenty
new species and two citations of new genera that Berlandier had proposed in the MEMORIAS DE
LA COMISION DE LIMITES." (JOURNEY TO MEXICO, xxxi). The manuscript does
not appear to have been published.
- 12. "Names in Mem. Comision limites":list of plant names by I. M. Johnston. [see Contributions from the Gray Herbarium 70: 87-90, "A Neglected Paper by
Jean Louis Berlandier" by I.M. Johnston.]
- 13. Herbarium Berlandierianum Texano -
Mexicanum. List of specimens, "much of this book is in Asa Gray's handwriting." Belongs with Plant List Box II.