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MS Am 1118.13

Dickinson, Emily, 1830-1886, recipient. Emily Dickinson botanical specimens, undated: Guide.

Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University


Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: Vault
Call No.: MS Am 1118.13
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Dickinson, Emily, 1830-1886, recipient.
Title: Emily Dickinson botanical specimens,
Date(s): undated.
Quantity: 1 collection (.3 linear feet (6 folders in 1 box)
Language of materials: Collection materials are in English.
Abstract: Pressed botanical specimens sent to poet Emily Dickinson, most of which are labeled with geographic locations in the Middle East.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

No accession number. Purchased from Alfred Leete Hampson; with funds given by Gilbert H. Montague, class of 1901, in happy memory of Amy Angell Collier Montague; received: 1950 May.

Conditions Governing Access:

Access to the originals requires the permission of the curator.


Copyright in the works of Emily Dickinson is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and others. For permission to quote from or reproduce from manuscript material of Dickinson, contact the Curator of Manuscripts, Houghton Library. For permission to quote from published editions of Dickinson's work that are still in copyright, contact Permissions Dept., Harvard University Press, 79 Garden St., Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, 02138-1499.

Conditions Governing Use:

Images linked to this finding aid are intended for public access and educational use. This material is owned and/or held by the Houghton Library, and is provided solely for the purpose of teaching or individual research. Any other use, including commercial reuse, mounting on other systems, or other forms of redistribution requires the permission of the curator.

Preferred Citation for Publication:

Emily Dickinson Botanical Specimens, undated (MS Am 1118.13). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Related Materials

Emily Dickinson's finished Herbarium of 424 pressed specimens of plants is held at Houghton Library (MS Am 1118.11), as is a smaller, unfinished herbarium (MS Am 1118.12).

Biographical / Historical

Emily Dickinson, poet of Amherst, Massachusetts, received formal training in botany and horticulture while a student at Amherst Academy from age 9 to 16. Her devotion to the science of and appreciation for plants came naturally, however. She joined her mother in gardening from an early age and took charge of a family conservatory in her twenties. Her herbarium (MS Am 1118.11) was produced during her years at Amherst Academy. These botanical specimens were never mounted in that or any other herbarium.
Nada Sinno Saoud, Post Herbarium Curator, American University of Beirut, has provided some tentative plant identifications.
It is possible that some or all of the labeled specimens were sent to Dickinson by Abby Wood Bliss, a schoolmate from Amherst Academy, who went to the Middle East as a missionary wife in 1855. Eleanor Johnson, a descendent of Abby Bliss, believes the handwriting on the labels for the Middle East specimens to be Abby's.


Arranged into the following series:

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of two groups of botanical specimens. The first group is specimens sewn contemporaneously onto cut pieces of notepaper, a few of which retain an embossed paper mark in the upper left corner. These are from Europe and the Middle East, presumably sent to Dickinson by friends. The second group is specimens that were loose when received by the Library, and are now mounted onto cardstock for their better preservation. None of these were identified, and they have been reconstructed and mounted as best as they could be assembled.

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