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Higginson, Thomas Wentworth, 1823-1911. Thomas Wentworth Higginson field notebooks, 1841-1894: 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.: gra00031
Repository: Archives of the Gray Herbarium, Botany Libraries, Harvard University
Creator: Higginson, Thomas Wentworth, 1823-1911
Title: Thomas Wentworth Higginson field notebooks
Date(s): 1841-1894
Quantity: 1 collection (In shared box AI)
Language of materials: English


The notebooks in this collection were given to the Gray Herbarium by Higginson in at least two separate gifts. Notebooks 1 and 3 were received on June 14, 1906 and notebook 2 was received on February 25, 1909. There is no acquisition date for Notebook 4.

Processed by:

September 1993

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:

Thomas Wentworth Higginson field notebooks, Archives of the Gray Herbarium, Harvard University.


Thomas Wentworth Higginson was born on December 22, 1823, in Cambridge, Massachusetts and was the youngest child of merchant Stephen Higginson and his wife Louisa Storrow Higginson. He entered Harvard College in 1837 at the age of 13 years and was the youngest member of his class. There he came under the influence of Thaddeus William Harris, who inspired his lifelong interest in natural history. Higginson completed his bachelor's degree in 1841 and taught for a few years before entering Harvard Divinity School. He was ordained in September 1847 and later that month married Mary Elizabeth Channing. The couple had no children but raised a niece. Mary Higginson died in 1877; two years later Higginson married Mary Potter Thacher. The couple had two daughters: Louisa, who died in infancy in 1880, and Margaret Waldo, born in 1881.
Higginson became active in the abolitionist movement while a theology student. Following his ordination he was involved in politics, religious and anti-slavery activities, and in the women's suffrage movement. During the American Civil War, he was commanding officer of the First South Carolina Volunteers, the first regiment of freed slaves in the Union Army. Following the war, he turned his attention to writing.
Throughout his life Higginson maintained an interest in entomology and botany. He was a member of the Boston Society of Natural History and the Cambridge Entomological Club, helped found the Worcester Natural History Society, and published a book of essays on plant lore ("The procession of the flowers and kindred paper") in 1897. He died in Cambridge on May 9, 1911.
Higginson MPT. 1914. Thomas Wentworth Higginson: the story of his life. Cambridge (MA): Riverside Press.
Higginson TW. 1869. Memoir of Thaddeus William Harris. Boston (MA): Boston Society of Natural History.

Scope and Content

The Higginson papers consist of four botanical notebooks and two letters found inserted in the notebooks.

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