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Brass, L. J. (Leonard J.). Papers of Leonard John Brass, 1936-1953: A Guide

Archives, Gray Herbarium Library, Harvard University Herbaria
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138

(c) 1998 The President and Fellows of Harvard College

Last update 2016 October 25

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: gra00016
Repository: Gray Herbarium Library
Creator: Brass, L. J. (Leonard J.)
Title: Papers of Leonard John Brass,
Date(s): 1936-1953
Quantity: 1 box

Processed by:

Lynn McWhood
February 1982

Acquisition Information:

Since Brass was collecting plants for the Arnold Arboretum on the second and fourth New Guinea expeditions, he may have sent the photographs and the field notebooks there. They could have been shipped over to the Gray Herbarium afterwards.


Leonard John Brass was born in Toowoomba, Queensland on May 27, 1900. He is especially known for his plant collecting in New Guinea; one of his interests was in the relationship between the floras of New Guinea and Australia. He was in charge of an expedition to New Guinea which collected plants for the Arnold Arboretum,1925-1926. He collected more plants for the Arboretum in the Solomon Islands,1932. He took part in three expeditions to New Guinea led by Richard Archbold:1933-34;1936-37; and 1938-39. The Arnold Arboretum was a co-sponsor of these ventures and received plants from them. From 1939 to 1966 Brass was connected with the American Museum of Natural History, where he was an associate curatorof the Archbold collections. Brass led an expedition to Australia, the Archbold Cape York Expedition,Feb. - Sept., 1948, and the fourth, fifth and sixth Archbold expeditions to New Guinea. The fourth expedition took palce from about May to November, 1953; the fifth expedition lasted from March, 1956, to January, 1957; and the sixth expedition was from March to December, 1959. The Arnold Arboretum co-sponsored the Cape York and the fourth New Guinea expeditions and received the plant collections from them. The plant collections of the fifth New Guinea expedition went to the Rijksherbarium at Leiden, and those of the sixth went to the U.S. National Herbarium,Washington, D.C.
After his retirement from the American Museum of Natural History in 1966, Brass returned to Australia, where he died in 1971. Brass was married to Maria Schiavone; she died in 1954.
References: Obituary in Brass file, semi-historic letters Barnhart Reports of the Archbold expeditions, Fl 58 Ar 2 & Fl 94 B73

Scope and Content:

There are two main groups to the Brass papers: photographs from the Second Archbold New Guinea Expedition,1936-37, and field notebooks from the Fourth Archbold New Guinea Expedition,1953. There are over 200 photographs, most of them captioned and some of them duplicates. Most are shots of general vegetation; a few show native people and expedition members.
There are 75 field notebooks covering collection numbers 21612 to 25166, with one notebook in the series missing. According to a note in the library catalog, the missing notebook contained notes on bryophytes. The notebooks are small pads with notes on one collection number per page. Printed on each page is: "L.J. Brass No. _____ / Plants of Papua Collected by the 4th Archbold Expedition to New Guinea / Name / Native Name / Locality / Habitat / Altitude / Date." The pads are set up to allow duplicates to be made of each page and the duplicates have been removed.
Other Brass materials at the Gray Herbarium include: Obituary and portrait photo in Semi-Historic letters file Plant list for Cape York Expedition in active plant lists file List of plants collected in Arizona, inactive plant lists file

Container Listing:

Other Descriptive Data

Indexed in Main File under: Brass, Leonard John1900-1971Archbold New Guinea Expedition