Scamman, Edith, 1882-1967. Edith Henry Scamman papers, 1890-1969, bulk 1936-1966:
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.: gra00048
Repository: Archives of the Gray Herbarium, Botany Libraries, Harvard University
Creator: Scamman, Edith, 1882-1967
Title: Edith Henry Scamman papers
Quantity: 2.5 linear feet (1 record box, 1 document box, 4 card file boxes)
Language of materials: English
Alice and Rolla Tryon deposited some of Scamman's papers in the Gray Herbarium library
for safekeeping. These papers were accessioned into the archives some time before
1981. Additional Scamman materials (mostly in Series I and IV) were found in a basement
storeroom and moved to the archives in 1983 or 1984.
According to Scamman's friend, Gladys Merrill, some of Scamman's correspondence and
papers may have been given to the Thornton Academy in Saco, Maine. Some of her Alaska
materials were given to George Argus, a curator at the National Museum of Natural
Science in Ottawa, Canada.
Processed by Lynn McWhood
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Edith Henry Scamman papers, Archives of the Gray Herbarium, Harvard University.
Edith Scamman was born on November 30, 1882, in Saco, Maine, to Henry and Francesca
Allen Scamman. Henry Scamman died when Edith was 10. Edith and her mother moved to
San Francisco, but soon returned to Saco, where Scamman entered Thornton Academy.
She attended Wellesley College and received a B.A. in English in 1907. She went on
to study literature at Radcliffe College and received an M.A. in 1909. Scamman spent
most of the following 25 years working at her church and caring for her mother. She
began to study nature as a hobby and eventually gave talks on plants and shells to
After her mother's death in 1935 Scamman undertook a year of scientific study at Radcliffe.
She became interested in Merritt Lyndon Fernald's studies of plant distribution in
unglaciated areas of Alaska. She made her first collecting trip to Alaska in the summer
of 1936. Scamman returned to Alaska eight times between 1937 and 1954 and collected
approximately 5,000 specimens, which she deposited at the Gray Herbarium. She also
spent six weeks collecting plants in Iceland in 1938.
Scamman spent the summer of 1939 at the Oxford University Herbarium and was in England
at the outbreak of World War II. The experience left a lasting impression on her and
she gave a number of talks on the subject after returning to the United States. Scamman
continued to work for her church while pursuing her botanical interests and served
as president of the Missionary Council of the Congregational Church Women of Maine
from 1940-1944. She also served on the American Fern Society's Overseers Committee
to visit the Gray Herbarium from 1942-1946.
Scamman's interest in ferns was encouraged by Charles Alfred Weatherby. With his assistance,
she published "Ferns and Fern Allies of New Hampshire" in 1947. Two years later she
was appointed as a research associate at the Gray Herbarium. Scamman made four collecting
trips to Costa Rica between 1951 and 1956 to study ferns. She also traveled to Puerto
Rico and the French territory of Guadeloupe in 1960. She published four articles on
Costa Rican ferns and was working on a fifth at the time of her death.
In 1962 Scamman became an honorary research associate of the Gray Herbarium. She died
on November 4, 1967, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Edith Henry Scamman papers, 1891-1966 (inclusive), 1936-1966 (bulk), Gray Archives,
Scamman EH. 1939. Rare plants for herbariums. International Altrusan. December: 11-12.
Tryon RM, Tryon AF. 1968. Edith Scamman (1882-1967). Amer. Fern J. 58(1):1-4.
The collection is divided into six series by format:
- Series I. Correspondence and clippings
- Series II. Notes and notebooks -- 31 notebooks as well as loose notes on Alaskan and
Canadian plants, New Hampshire ferns, Costa Rican ferns, and natural history.
- Series III. Diaries -- 10 diaries, dated 1939-1966; includes loose notes, stamps,
visiting cards, and specimen labels; clippings inserted in the diaries have been replaced
- Series IV. Manuscripts -- typescript drafts for "A list of plants from interior Alaska"
(Rhodora vol. 42, no. 501, 1940), "Ferns and fern allies of New Hampshire" (1947),
and "List of ferns and fern allies of New Hampshire" (possibly unpublished).
- Series V. Photographic material -- over 300 35mm color slides of Costa Rica and Central
America and around 160 black-and-white and color photographs as well as picture postcards
of Alaska, Scamman's home in Saco, Maine, and Scamman, her friends, and family. Slides
have been removed from their original boxes and rehoused in polypropylene sleeves.
- Series VI. Card files -- 11 card files on Alaska, New Hampshire, and Costa Rica plants
This collection contains correspondence; diaries; notebooks; loose notes; blank and
typed specimen labels; card files; color slides; black-and-white and color photographs
and one tintype (print); manuscript material; and additional paper ephemera pertaining
to Scamman's family, botanical interests, and work for the Gray Herbarium. The collection
also includes materials related to Scamman's death, including funeral arrangements,
letters of sympathy, and papers regarding the disposition of her estate.
- Series: I. Correspondence and clippings
- Box 1, Folder 1, Benson, Gustaf A. 1 letter
- Box 1, Folder 1, Bissell, Geraldine Prouty 1 letter
Date: 1941 March 31
- Box 1, Folder 1, Brown, Clair Alan (University of Louisiana) 1 letter
Date: 1962 May 14
- Box 1, Folder 1, Clement, Duncan 1 greeting card
- Box 1, Folder 1, Coburn, Louise Helen 1 letter
Date: 1922 October 7
- Box 1, Folder 1, Correll, Donovan Stewart 1 postcard.
Date: 1961 October 13
- Box 1, Folder 1, Crary, Marcela Cruz (University of Florida) 2 letters
Date: 1962 April 17, 1962 May 5
Scope and Contents: 1 letter, dated 1962 April 17, plus a carbon copy of Scamman's reply, dated 1962 May
- Box 1, Folder 1, Ernst, Wally 1 letter
Date: 1967 April 11
- Box 1, Folder 1, Faden, Robert (University of Michigan) 2 letters
Date: 1965 May 25, 1965 June 5
Scope and Contents: 1 letter with an enclosed list, dated 1965 May 25, plus a draft of Scamman's reply,
dated 1965 June 5.
- Box 1, Folder 2, Board of Overseers, Harvard College 3 letters
- Box 1, Folder 2, Rollins, Reed Clark (Gray Herbarium) 1 letter
Date: 1951 February 9
- Box 1, Folder 3, Josselyn Botanical Society 1 society newsletter.
- Box 1, Folder 3, Latham, Florence E. 1 letter
Date: 1938 January 20
- Box 1, Folder 3, Miller, Frank and Graziella 1 Christmas card.
- Box 1, Folder 3, Morton, Conrad Vernon 3 letters
Date: 1962 April 19, 1962 July 28, undated
Scope and Contents: 1 letter with enclosed identifications, dated 1962 April 19, 1 letter from Scamman
to Morton, dated 1962 July 28, and 1 undated draft of a letter from Scamman to Morton.
- Box 1, Folder 4, Pichi-Sermolli, Rodolfo Emilio Giuseppe (University of Genoa) 1 postcard.
Date: 1961 October 21
- Box 1, Folder 4, Polunin, Helen Campbell 1 letter
Date: 1946 January 6
- Box 1, Folder 4, Potter, Louise 4 letters and 2 picture postcards.
- Box 1, Folder 4, Reed, Clyde Franklin 3 letters
Date: 1961 August 28, 1961 October 18
Scope and Contents: 1 letter, dated 1961 August 28, and 2 drafts of Scamman's reply, dated 1961 October
- Box 1, Folder 4, Scammon, Harry B. 1 letter
Date: 1963 March 14
- Box 1, Folder 4, Scammon, Helen Gertrude 2 letters
- Box 1, Folder 5, Arnim, Caro (Scripps College) 1 letter
Date: 1945 July 1
- Box 1, Folder 5, Esterly, Virginia Judy (Scripps College) 1 letter
Date: 1945 June 28
- Box 1, Folder 5, Hard, Frederick (Scripps College) 1 letter and 1 black-and-white photograph.
Date: 1957 March 7
- Box 1, Folder 5, Jaqua, Ernest (Scripps College) 2 letters
Date: 1935 June 1, 1935 April 16
Scope and Contents: 1 letter, dated 1935 June 1, plus 1 letter from Scamman to Jaqua, dated 1935 April
- Box 1, Folder 5, Stuart, Alice 2 letters and 1 bank check.
- Box 1, Folder 5, Wagner, Warren Herbert, Jr. 1 letter
- Box 1, Folder 5, Weeden, Robert Barton (Alaska Department of Fish and Game) 1 letter
Date: 1962 February 19
- Box 1, Folder 5, Wiggins, Iva Loren (Stanford University) 1 postcard.
Date: 1961 October 14
- Box 1, Folder 5, Wright, Tatiana (Polunin) 1 letter
Date: 1947 December 20
- Box 1, Folder 5, Unidentified materials 5 letters
Date: 1946-1950, undated
Scope and Contents: 1 undated letter from "Franklyn", 1 picture greeting card from Ellen and Christy,
dated 1946, 1 postcard from an unknown society, dated 1950 April 17, 1 undated letter
to "Henry", and 1 undated draft to an unknown recipient.
- Alice Tryon correspondence
- Box 1, Folder 6, Adams, Helen 1 letter
Date: 1967 December 4
- Box 1, Folder 6, Foster, [Edith] 1 sympathy card.
- Box 1, Folder 6, Grinnell, Helen 1 letter
Date: 1967 December 28
- Box 1, Folder 6, Groover, Madeleine E. 1 letter
Date: 1967 November 28
- Box 1, Folder 6, Joslyn, Vernetta and Herman S. 1 letter
Date: 1967 December 2
- Box 1, Folder 6, Merrill, Gladys 1 letter and 2 cards.
- Box 1, Folder 6, Perkins, Elliot P. 3 letters
Date: 1967 November 25, 1968 February 19, 1969 January 7
Scope and Contents: 1 letter, dated 1969 January 7, plus 2 carbon copies of letters from Tryon to Perkins,
dated 1967 November 25 and 1968 February 19.
- Box 1, Folder 6, Polunin, Nicholas and Helen Campbell
Date: 1967 December 3
- Box 1, Folder 6, Potter, Louise 1 sympathy card.
Date: 1967 November 27
- Box 1, Folder 6, Shartel, Elizabeth 1 letter
Date: 1967 December 1
- Box 1, Folder 6, Wagner, Warren Herbert, Jr. and Florence 1 sympathy card.
- Frederick M. Meek correspondence
- Box 1, Folder 7, Tryon, Alice F. 2 letters
Date: 1967 November 16, 1968 February 8
Scope and Contents: Letter from Meek to Alice Tryon, dated 1967 November 16, plus a carbon copy of Tryon's
reply, dated 1968 February 8.
- Box 1, Folder 7, Tryon, Rolla Milton 1 letter and 1 biographical sketch of Scamman.
Date: 1967 November 24
- Box 1, Folder 7, Harvard University Gazette Newsletter containing an announcement for Scamman's memorial service.
Date: 1967 December 2
- Box 1, Folder 8, Radcliffe College 1 enrollment card and 1 tuition bill.
- Box 1, Folder 8, City of Saco, Maine 1 tax bill for Francesca B. Scamman.
Date: 1910 September 27
- Box 1, Folder 8, Scamman, Edith 1 pencil and watercolor drawing of three girls to unknown recipient, dated 1892;
1 holiday greeting card, dated 1951; 1 handmade Christmas card in booklet form containing
two illustrations and a poem entitled "The Snow Storm", undated; 2 pen and ink drawings
and 1 [acrylic] painting, undated.
Date: 1892, 1951, undated
- Box 1, Folder 8, Scamman, Henry 1 cabinet photograph of a microscope.
- Box 1, Folder 8, Weatherby, Charles Alfred 1 poem.
- Box 1, Folder 8, Unknown author Transcript of a speech introducing a talk by Scamman on Alaska.
- Series: II. Notes and notebooks
- Box 1, Item 1, Iceland
Scope and Contents: Bound book containing brief notes on plants collected, including specimen number,
name of plant, location and date collected.
- Box 1, Item 12, Alaska
Scope and Contents: Spiral-bound notebook containing notes and lists of Alaska plants, plus a list entitled
"June 21st - 10 years ago - R. Highway - Fairbanks to Gulkana". Includes specimen
labels, dated 1945, and loose notes.
- Box 1, Item 16, Canada
Scope and Contents: 3-ring binder containing notes on plants collected in Jasper National Park, Canada.
Includes loose notes, an ink drawing, a colored plate of Rubus pedatus Smith. from
a book, and a letter granting permission to collect from Hoyes Lloyd on behalf of
James Smart, Canada Department of Mines and Resources Acting Controller, dated 1941
- Box 1, Item 17, "Mineralogy, Prof. C. Wroe Wolfe"
Scope and Contents: Spiral-bound notebook containing notes and exam questions from a mineralogy course
taught by Caleb Wroe Wolfe (Boston University). Includes loose notes, a clipping,
and a draft of a letter from Scamman to Mr. Jefferson regarding Jefferson's hospital
bill, dated 1949 January 6.
- Box 1, Item 21, Costa Rica ferns
Scope and Contents: Spiral-bound notebook containing notes on Costa Rican ferns. Includes loose notes,
a receipt, typed and handwritten specimen labels, and a draft of a letter from Scamman
to Ernst Cleveland Abbe.
- Box 1, Item 24, Notes on Costa Rica ferns
Scope and Contents: 6-ring binder containing loose notes, typed specimen labels, and a letter from James
P. Poole (Jesup Herbarium), dated 1963 March 14.
- Box 1, Item 26, Tennessee and Alaska
Scope and Contents: Spiral-bound notebook containing notes on Tennessee ferns collected by W.A. Anderson,
Jr., Smoky Mountain plants, Blue Ridge wildflowers, Alaska plants, and Ecuadorian
plants, as well as notes from a lecture.
- Series: III. Diaries
- Box 2
Date: 1963 February 23-August 17
Scope and Contents: Diary containing entries for February 23; March 4-12; and August 16-17 (in California);
plus cash accounts and addresses. Includes 1 loose note, 1 loose address, and 1 postage
- Box 2
Date: 1965 July 27-September 12
Scope and Contents: Diary containing entries for July 27-August 1 and September 9-12, plus memoranda,
cash accounts, and addresses.
- Box 2, Folder 10-11, Loose material from diaries 2 folders
Date: approximately 1939-1966
Scope and Contents: Loose material including stamps, notes, addresses, specimen labels, and photocopies
- Series: V. Photographic materials
- Box 1, Folder 11, Costa Rica
Scope and Contents: 88 color slides from Box 1, containing images of people, scenery, buildings, and a
few images of plants and animals.
- Box 1, Folder 12, Central America
Scope and Contents: 118 color slides from Box 2. Localities include Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.
Contains images of people, scenery, buildings, city scenes, a Good Friday celebration,
and collecting trips.
- Box 1, Folder 13, Costa Rica
Scope and Contents: 60 color slides from Box 3, containing images of people, scenery, buildings, and the
same Good Friday celebration from Box 2. Some of these slides were previously housed
in a box labeled "C.R. good".
- Box 1, Folder 16, Alaska, small black-and-white photographs
Scope and Contents: 31 photographs, 4 picture postcards, and 2 printed Alaska Steamship Co. menus depicting
Alaska scenery and animals. Photographs taken by K.F. Waldhelm, E. Andrews, and uncredited
- Box 1, Folder 17, Alaska, black-and-white photographs of people
Scope and Contents: 22 photographs of people in Alaska, including Alaska native families and children,
dogsledding, Scamman's cabin, one studio portrait of an unidentified woman, and two
images of Scamman with others. Photographs by K.F. Waldhelm, Richter Photos (Nome,
Alaska), and uncredited others.
- Box 1, Folder 18, Slisco family photographs
Date: approximately 1940-1950
Scope and Contents: 8 black-and-white and 1 color photograph of Pera Slisco (later Stadulis) and her children,
Andro (also called Andrew), Edith, and Martin, Jr. Includes a formal first communion
photograph of a group of children with a priest and nun.
- Box 1, Folder 19, Alaska, color photographs
Scope and Contents: 7 chromogenic color prints, 1 picture postcard, and 8 photographs with hand coloring
depicting Alaska scenery, Scamman's cabin, Miller House, Frank and Graziella Miller
with their dog, and Alaska natives.
- Box 1, Folder 21, Photographs of people
Date: approximately 1890-1963
Scope and Contents: 1 tintype, 7 black-and-white and 2 color photographs of people, mostly unidentified.
Includes images of Scamman's father and mother (separately), a photograph by Maxeine
Williams of three women photographing a plant in the field, and 2 pictures of James
A. Jensen working with fossils at Brigham Young University.
- Box 1, Folder 22, Photographs of buildings
Scope and Contents: 14 black-and-white and 3 color photographs of the exterior of Scamman's home in Saco,
Maine, and 6 black-and-white photographs of unidentified buildings, possibly also
- Box 1, Folder 25, Photographs of Scamman and others
Date: approximately 1900-1965
Scope and Contents: 14 black-and-white and 2 color photographs, including 2 images of Scamman with Eric
Hultén taken by Dagens Bild, and various photographs of Scamman alone and with friends