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Olney, Stephen T. (Stephen Thayer), 1812-1878. Stephen Thayer Olney field notebooks, 1841-1870, bulk 1841-1848: 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.: gra00064
Repository: Archives of the Gray Herbarium, Botany Libraries, Harvard University
Creator: Olney, Stephen T. (Stephen Thayer), 1812-1878
Title: Stephen Thayer Olney field notebooks
Date(s): 1841-1870
Date(s): 1841-1848
Quantity: 0.1 linear feet (3 notebooks in shared box 5)
Quantity: 112 Leaves
Language of materials: English


The Olney notebooks were found with the papers of Walter Deane, who was an avid collector of botanical autographs. Deane was also a good friend of William Whitman Bailey, who was Curator of the Herbaria at Brown; it is possible he acquired the notebooks through Bailey.

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:

Stephen Thayer Olney field notebooks, Archives of the Gray Herbarium, Harvard University.

Related Materials

Other related material at the Botany Libraries, Harvard University Herbaria: Asa Gray correspondence files, 32 letters, 1845-1876; Sereno Watson papers, 30 letters, 1869-1872.

Biographical / Historical

Stephen Thayer Olney was born on February 15, 1812, in Providence, Rhode Island to Stephen and Polly Olney (née Thayer). He was educated in Providence and worked for Isaac B. Cooke and Co. before starting the Wauskuck Company, a woolens firm, with Jesse Metcalf. The business was profitable and provided Olney with sufficient wealth and free time to pursue his botanical interests.
Olney was particularly interested in the genus Carex and contributed sections on Carices to Sereno Watson's botanical report of the King Geological Exploration of the 40th Parallel and to Asa Gray's report on Elihu Hall's Oregon plants. He amassed a large private herbarium and botanical library and corresponded with many prominent botanists.
Olney never married. He died in Providence on July 27, 1878 after a period of declining health. He bequeathed his herbarium and library as well as $35,000 to Brown University.
Bailey WW. 1880. The Herbaria and Botanical Libraries of the United States, III. Bull. Torrey Bot. Club. 7(11):116-117.
Gray A. 1879. Scientific Intelligence: III. Botany. Am. J. Sci. Arts. 17(98):176-180.
Humphrey HB. Stephen Thayer Olney, 1812-1878. In: Makers of North American Botany. New York: Ronald Press; 1961. p.192-193.

Scope and Content

The Olney papers consist of three small field notebooks. Two notebooks are covered in leather, one is missing a cover. Notebooks contain field notes and collecting lists, likely of Rhode Island plants. They were probably used in the preparation of Olney's Rhode Island floras.

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