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 linear foot (in shared boxes AL, AM, AN
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.
Processed by Lynn McWhood
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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. Manuscripts appear to have been carefully reviewed by Robinson. Many bear
notes indicating why they were retained. There are no manuscripts of published works.
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.Series IV. Miscellaneous materials consist of correspondence and notes pertaining
to corrections of the 7th edition of "Gray's New Manual of Botany," correspondence
pertaining to memberships, diplomas, and a collection of diplomas and membership certificates.
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. Notebook
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. 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. Notes on herbaria
Date: 1916, undated
- 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
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. 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. 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. Six letters to Robinson, hand-drawn map, and notes in oversize folder
Date: 1902-1908, undated
Scope and Contents: 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; 2 letters
from Henri François Pittier, 1902 July 30 and 1902 September 26. Also includes a
hand-drawn map of Cocos Island by Pittier and miscellaneous notes in pencil, in Robinson's
handwriting, on 5 sheets of newsprint.
- 13. "Copied and dead manuscript Cocos Isl." in Robinson's handwriting
- 17. "Important Memoranda etc. about Eupatorieae"
Date: 1925-1926, undated
Scope and Contents: Contains memoranda of [David] Potter, 1 page. Also includes 6 photos of herbarium
specimens with notes by Sidney Fay Blake, 1925 as well as a list of Eupatorieae in
Santiago Museum, in Ivan Murray Johnston's handwriting, 1926.
- 18. Manuscript in pencil labeled "Diels Eupatorieae of Ecuador. Sent to Diels May 24,
1935." 17 pages
- 20. Typed manuscript "Eupatorium: Key to Central American Sp." 28 pages
- 21. "Eupatorium: Key to Mexican Species" 25 pages, typed and manuscript.
- 22. Miscellaneous descriptions and Mikania of Brazil
Scope and Contents: Contains drafts of miscellaneous descriptions in folder labeled "To be typed," 9 pages.
Also includes "Mikania of Brazil" (preliminary key June 19, 1934) manuscript, 5 pages.
- 25. "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: Added 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., Columbia, Venez., Ecuad., Peru
and Boliv. It should not be published under any circumstance. B. L. Robinson 12 Oct.
1934." Manuscript is bound and 34 typed pages with pencil annotations.
- Series: IV. Miscellaneous materials
- 26. Correspondence 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
- 27. Certificates, notices, and letters
Scope and Contents: Certificate of admission to Harvard (1884), certificates pertaining to his studies
in Germany, notices of appointment and salary from Harvard, and letters announcing
various memberships and awards. 34 items, arranged chronologically.
- 28. Certificates and diplomas
Scope and Contents: Includes certificate of graduation from public schools of Bloomington, Illinois, and
list of courses taken in Germany. 12 items, less than 16" x 20", arranged chronologically.
- 29. Certificates and diplomas
Date: 1887-1928, undated
Scope and Contents: Contains certificate of Harvard B.A., 1887; two copies of certificate of Ph.D., 1889;
certificate of election as corporate member of Boston Society of Natural History,
1895; certificate of election as corresponding member of Massachusetts Horticultural
Society; and certificate of election as corresponding member Institut Genevois, 1928.
6 items, larger than 16" x 20".