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Call No.: gra00045
Repository: Archives of the Gray Herbarium, Botany Libraries, Harvard University
Creator: Robbins, James Watson, 1801-1879
Title: James Watson Robbins papers
Quantity: 0.25 linear feet (21 folders)
Language of materials: English
Other related material at the Botany Libraries, Harvard University Herbaria: Asa Gray correspondence files, 1832-1892; Field notes and plant identification records, approximately 1804-2000; Thomas Morong correspondence; William Oakes letters to James Watson Robbins.
James Watson Robbins was born in Colebrook, Connecticut on November 18, 1801, to Ammi and Salome Robbins. He received a B.A. from Yale University in 1822 and taught for a few years before returning to Yale to study medicine. He completed an M.D. in 1828 and spent the following year collecting specimens around New England for William Oakes. Robbins went into practice in Uxbridge, Massachusetts in 1830 and continued to devote his free time to collecting.In 1859 Robbins moved to Michigan. He spent four years there and mounted a three-month expedition down the Mississippi River from Michigan to New Orleans and then on to Cuba. He returned to his medical practice in Uxbridge and remained there until his death on January 9, 1879.Robbins's major focus was aquatic phanerogamic plants, particularly the genus Potamogeton. He was a mentor to Thomas Morong, who carried on his studies into Potamogeton and Najadaceae. Several species are named in his honor, including Potamogeton robbinsii, named by Asa Gray.SourceBurrage WL. 1920. Robbins, James Watson (1801-1879). In: Kelly HA, Burrage WL. American Medical Biographies. 984. Baltimore (MD): The Norman, Remington Company.Gray, A. 1879. James Watson Robbins. Amer. J. Sci. Arts. 17(98):180.
The Robbins papers contain correspondence and manuscripts. There are approximately 145 letters from 34 correspondents, dated 1828-1880 (bulk 1863-1868). Content is primarily botanical and many bear notations indicating the content of Robbins's replies. Correspondence has been arranged alphabetically by sender and then chronologically. Major correspondents are Thomas Conrad Porter (21 letters) and Edward Tuckerman (26 letters).Manuscript material consists of five small booklets. Four deal with the genus Potamogeton and one contains corrections and notes on Alphonso Wood's "A Class-book of Botany" from 1851.