Robinson, Benjamin Lincoln, 1864-1935. Benjamin Lincoln Robinson papers, 1887-1934:
Archives of the Gray Herbarium, Botany Libraries, Harvard University
Archives of the Gray Herbarium, Botany Libraries, Harvard University
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Call No.: gra00046
Repository: Archives of the Gray Herbarium, Botany Libraries, Harvard University
Creator: Robinson, Benjamin Lincoln, 1864-1935
Title: Benjamin Lincoln Robinson papers
Quantity: 1.3 linear feet (3 boxes, 1 folder in Shared Oversize Box 1, flat file, and filing cabinet 11)
Language of materials: English
The bulk of Robinson's papers appear to have been specifically set aside by Robinson
as historical records. No formal record of provenance has been found.
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Benjamin Lincoln Robinson papers, Archives of the Gray Herbarium, Harvard University.
Other related material at the Botany Libraries, Harvard University Herbaria:
- Merritt Lyndon Fernald papers. Contains a draft for a revision of Asa Gray's "Field,
forest and garden botany" on which Fernald and Robinson collaborated, but which was
never published; also contains bibliographic notes for the 7th edition of "Gray's
Manual of Botany."
- Charles Alfred Weatherby papers. Contains notes by Robinson and Weatherby pertaining
to ferns in the 8th edition of "Gray's Manual of Botany."
- Administrative correspondence of the Gray Herbarium and Harvard University Herbaria,
1890-1965. Much of this correspondence is Robinson's.
- Asa Gray correspondence files, 1832-1892
- George Golding Kennedy papers. Contains correspondence.
Benjamin Lincoln Robinson was born on November 8, 1864, in Bloomington, Illinois,
the youngest of eight children of James Harvey and Latricia Maria Robinson (née Drake).
He attended public school and Illinois Normal School before entering Williams College
in 1883. Dissatisfied with the opportunities at Williams, Robinson transferred to
Harvard College in 1884 and graduated three years later. Shortly after graduation
Robinson married Margaret Louise Casson. The couple traveled to Europe and settled
in Strasbourg, France, where Robinson began graduate studies with Hermann zu Solms-Laubach
in the fall of 1887. He received a Ph.D. in 1889 and returned to Cambridge, Massachusetts
in 1890 to take a position as assistant to Sereno Watson at the Harvard University
Herbarium at the Harvard Botanic Garden.
After Watson's death in 1892 Robinson became curator of the herbarium, a position
he retained for nearly the rest of his life. He was appointed Asa Gray Professor of
Systematic Botany in 1899 but was never active in teaching, focusing instead on his
responsibilities as curator. Much of his energy was directed at completing the work
started by his predecessors. He published two fascicles of Asa Gray's "Synoptical
Flora of North America" in 1895 and 1897, and collaborated with Merritt Lyndon Fernald
on the seventh edition of "Gray's New Manual of Botany," published in 1908.
Robinson also oversaw the separation of the herbarium from the Botanic Garden and
the organization of the Gray Herbarium in 1897. He attempted to have a new herbarium
building constructed but was unsuccessful, eventually settling for reconstructing
the building at the Botanic Garden. He did much of the design work himself and the
construction was completed in 1915. Robinson was also responsible for establishing
and growing a permanent endowment for the Gray Herbarium.
Robinson was a founding member of the New England Botanic Club and served for 30 years
as editor of the Club's journal "Rhodora." He published over 200 scientific papers
in his lifetime. He took an active role in the discussions of nomenclature at International
Botanical Congresses and traveled to Europe several times to participate in congresses
and visit herbaria. Robinson was in poor health for the last few years of his life
and was further weakened by the death of his wife in 1932. He died on July 27, 1935,
at his summer home in Jaffrey, New Hampshire.
Fernald ML. 1937. Benjamin Lincoln Robinson. Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts. 71(10):539-542.
Series I. Notebooks primarily contain notes from Robinson's visits to European herbaria
in 1905, 1910, and 1927-1928; one notebook contains notes on American herbaria visited
in 1916. Series II. Plant notes consist of a ledger book list of plants collected in southern
New Hampshire and southern Vermont, and a book containing labels for Robinson's 1894
collections in Newfoundland.Series III. Manuscript material includes notes on Leguminosae for the unpublished
3rd fascicle of "Synoptical Flora of North America," drafts on Eupatorium intended
for "Das Pflanzenreich," notes on the Cocos Island flora possibly intended to expand
Robinson's "Flora of the Galapagos Islands" (including a hand-drawn map of the island
by Henri François Pittier and a portion of manuscript by William Gilson Farlow), a
draft of a talk delivered to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in the winter
of 1918-1919, and a number of keys and other manuscripts pertaining to Eupatorium.
Manuscripts appear to have been carefully reviewed by Robinson. Many bear notes indicating
why they were retained. There are no manuscripts of published works. Series IV. Gray's Manual revision material contains correspondence and notes pertaining
to corrections of the 7th edition of Asa Gray's "New Manual of Botany." Series V. Diplomas and membership certificates and related correspondence.Series VI. Original artwork contains one pencil drawing.
The Robinson papers contain notes, collecting lists, unpublished manuscript material,
correspondence, and certificates pertaining to Robinson's education, botanical work,
and membership in scientific societies. Materials are arranged by format and subject.
- Series: I. Notebooks
- 1. Box 1, Folder 1Notebook
Scope and Contents: List of specimens of various genera in Gray Herbarium, pages 1-21; Notes on European
herbaria (Paris, Geneva, Vienna, Berlin, Copenhagen, London, Kew), 1905, pages 22-23,
30-110, includes notes on photographs taken of specimens.
- 2. Box 1, Folder 2, Notes
Scope and Contents: Notes on European herbaria (Paris, Geneva, London), 1910, pages [1-45]; Notes on Harvard
College catalogue descriptions of botany courses, 1866-1872, pages [47-53]; List of
photographs, 1910, toward end of notebook, 15 pages.
- 3. Box 1, Folder 3, Notes on herbaria
Date: 1916, undated
- 6. Box 1, Folder 6, Notes on European herbaria (Paris, London, Kew) about 50 pages
- Series: II. Plant notes
- List of plants of southern New Hampshire and southern Vermont In filing cabinet 11.
Date: approximately 1897-1899 Southern New Hampshire and southern Vermont
Scope and Contents: Ledger-style bound notebook containing list of plants of southern New Hampshire, 24
pages, nos. 1-1033. Also includes list of plants of southern Vermont, 5 pages, nos.
- Series: III. Manuscripts
- 7. Box 1, Folders 7-13, Box 2, Folder 1-4, Leguminosae: several genera worked 3rd fascicle of "Synoptical Flora of North America"
Date: approximately 1897-1900
Scope and Contents: Manuscript notes in ink on Lupinus, Pithecellobium, Schrankia, Gymnocladus, Stylosanthes,
Genista, Cytisus, Ulex, Spartium, Medicago, Melilotus, Amphicarpa, [Massilia], Neptunia,
Desmanthus, Calliandra, Leucaena, Tephrosia, Psoralea, Pickeringia, Thermopsis, Petalostemum,
Dalea, Baptisia, Acacia, Cassia, Mimosa, Lysiloma, Albizia, Prosopis. Some are labeled
"Done to Apr. 1900." Pencil notes on Lupinus on large sheets of paper were folded
into initial sections of this manuscript and are now stored separately in large folder
- 8. Box 2, Folders 5-8, Pflanzenreich manuscripts
Date: probably 1905 and after
Scope and Contents: Includes manuscript labeled "Proof underscored by Harms, 1905." Also contains typed
drafts of Ophryosporus, Helogyne, Phania, Ageratell, Decachaeta, Trichocoronis, Oaxacania,
Carphochaete, Eupatoriastrum and Piqueria. There is a carbon of the final copy and
a folder labeled "Copied ms" containing manuscript, pencil, and ink drafts. A note
surrounding whole set said: "continuation of this work was found not to be feasible
until various preliminary revisions had been made working up Eupatoriums, Mikanias,
etc. from special regions."
- 10. Box Shared Oversize 1, Cocos Island correspondence, map, and notes
Date: 1902-1908, undated
Scope and Contents: Correspondence pertains to collections made by Henri François Pittier on Cocos Island
in 1902. Contains 1 letter from Hermann Christ, 1902 May 16; 1 letter from Alfred
Cogniaux, 1904 January 22; 2 letters from William Gilson Farlow, 1903 September 11
and 1908 June 23; 1 letter from Henri François Pittier, 1902 September 26. Also includes
a list of loaned plants with a note of receipt by Pittier, 1903; a hand-drawn map
of Cocos Island by Pittier; and specimen identifcation notes in pencil, in Robinson's
handwriting, on 5 sheets of newsprint.
- 13. Box 2, Folder 12"Copied + dead ms. Cocos Isl." in Robinson's handwriting
- 17. Box 2, Folder 16, "Important Memoranda +c. about Eupatorieae"
Date: 1925-1926, undated
Scope and Contents: Contains "Memoranda of Mr. [David] Potter, obtained for B.L.R. from records at Clark
Univ.", 1 page; 6 photographs of herbarium specimens from the British Museum Herbarium
with typed notes by Sidney Fay Blake, 1925, 2 pages; "Eupatorioids in Santiago Mus."
list by Ivan Murray Johnston, 1926, 1 page; sketch of Eupatorium cordatum; additional
notes and paper ephemera.
- 20. Box 2, Folder 20, "Eupatorium: Key to Central American Sp." manuscripts
Date: 1929 September 26, undated
Scope and Contents: Two typed manuscripts with different notations, 12 pages and 14 pages; one handwritten
list entitled "[Recension] of Central American Species of Eupatorium, Sep. 26, 1929",
- 21. Box 3, Folder 1, "Eupatorium: Key to Mexican Species" manuscript and notes 25 pages, typed and manuscript.
- 22. Box 3, Folder 2, "Mikania of Brazil (Preliminary key)" manuscript 5 pages
Date: 1934 June 19
- 22a. Box 3, Folder 3, Mikania and Eupatorium descriptions 9 pages
- 23. Box 3, Folder 4, "Kanimia, beginning of a tentative revision" manuscripts
Scope and Contents: Contains a description of Kanimia Gardner, 3 pages, and "Grounds for the Reduction
of Kanimia" manuscript, 12 pages.
- 24. Box 3, Folder 5Stevia manuscripts
Scope and Contents: Contains "The Stevias of Uruguay" manuscript, 1 page; "Key to the Uruguayan Species
of Stevia" typed manuscript, 1 page; "Stevias of Uruguay" list, 1 page; and "Key to
the Stevias of Brazil" typed manuscript, 8 pages
- 25. Box 3, Folder 6"A provisional Key to Stevia, Prepared as an aid to study at foreign herbaria during
the journey planned for the summer of 1927"
Scope and Contents: Additional title page note: "This key, drawn up very hurriedly and merely as an aid
to further study, has in most of its distinctions been superseded by far more carefully
drawn keys in my revisions of Stevias of Argent., Paraguay, N. Am., Colombia, Venez.,
Ecuad., Peru + Boliv. It should not be published under any circumstances. B.L. Robinson
12 Oct. 1934", 34 typed pages with pencil annotations, bound.
- Series: IV. Gray's Manual revision material
- 26. Box 3, Folders 7-8Correspondence and notes pertaining to corrections of the 7th edition of Gray's Manual
- Bush, Benjamin Franklin
- Collins, James Franklin
- Flynn, Nellie F.
- Gleason, Henry Allan
- Harger, Edgar Burton
- Harper, Roland M.
- Hitchcock, Albert Spear
- Hopkins, Lewis Sylvester
- Kennedy, George Golding
- Nelson, James Carlton
- Pease, Arthur Stanley
- Piper, Charles Vancouver
- True, Rodney Howard
- Series: V. Diplomas and membership certificates
- 27. Box 3, Folders 9-10, Certificates and notices
Date: 1889-1934, undated
Scope and Contents: Contains certificates pertaining to Robinson's studies at Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität
in Bonn, Germany, and Kaiser-Wilhelm-Universität in Strasbourg, France (1889), and
correspondence and certificates pertaining to awards and memberships in various societies
(1891-1934). Arranged chronologically.
- 27a. Box 3, Folder 11, Harvard certificates and notices
Scope and Contents: Contains a certificate of admission to Harvard College (1884), salary notices (1890-1905)
and appointments (1891-1900), and two letters of election to Harvard clubs (1906,
- 28. Box Shared Oversize 1, Certificates and diplomas
Scope and Contents: Includes a diploma from public school in Bloomington, Illinois (1878), two certificates
from Kaiser-Wilhelm-Universität (1887, 1889), and five certificates of membership
to various societies. Arranged chronologically.
- 29. Box Flat File, Large certificates and diplomas
Scope and Contents: Contains Harvard undergraduate degree (1887); two copies of Ph.D. from Kaiser-Wilhelm-Universität
(1889); honorary degree from the National University of La Plata, Argentina (1934),
and three certificates of membership to various societies.
- Series: VI. Original artwork