Records relating to the early history of the Botany Department consist of account books, faculty files and grade books, student files and papers, and other miscellaneous writings and materials. This record group is arranged into nine series : I. Account Books ; II. Faculty Files; III. Grade Books ; IV. Miscellaneous Files; V. Miscellaneous Printed Materials; VI. Student Files; VII. Student Papers; VIII. Herbarium, further divided into two subseries: 1. Correspondence; 2. General Files, and IX.. Non-Textual Materials, divided into three subseries: 1. Negatives—Glass and Film; 2. Photographic Prints, and 3. Framed Specimen.
The faculty files, miscellaneous printed materials, and student papers constitute the most significant series in this departmental record. Included in these file units are botanical listings and identifications kept by Oberlin students and faculty members. Several published botanical sources containing notations regarding the identification of specific plant species are also included. Because these records document the manner by which plant classification and identification was conducted in the late 19th century, they can be used to compare these methods against present day botanical practices.
The student files series contain the records of Oberlin Botany pupils who proceeded onto professional placement and graduate work. Their files (along with the "List of Botany Majors" and "Student Recommendations" located in Series IV) detail the numbers of students pursuing Botany degrees at Oberlin, their postgraduate placement, and their professional development.
The account books enumerate the financial life of the department from its earliest days up to its merger with the Zoology department. Here one can follow the department's continuous financial struggles. The budgeting of departmental funds by specific accounts is recorded, along with yearly salaries, appropriations, and expenditures.
Series VIII contains materials concerning the Oberlin College Herbarium and is divided into two subseries. The first subseries, Correspondence, 1952-86, contains several decades of correspondence between George T. Jones, curator of the Herbarium, and other colleges, universities, and botanical institutions. The exchanges involve sale, exchange, loaning, and identification of plant specimens. Personal comments by George T. Jones in the letters communicate difficulties and changes in the Botany Department, Herbarium, and the College in general. The second subseries, General Files, 1874-1987, includes a History of the Herbarium, detailed inventories and descriptions of its collections, and extensive lists of Lorain County and Ohio plants included in the collection. The subseries also contains maps and descriptions of regional flora, and microscope records and slides data.
The balance of this collection is made up of faculty grade books and miscellaneous files.
While this collection covers a broad time span, it provides a limited picture of the academic activities of the Botany Department. Standard administrative records: departmental meeting minutes, annual reports, personnel files, budget reports and correspondence, do not exist. Documents relating to the administrative and curricular issues faced by the department may have to be found in other record groups and collections. For example, detailed accounts of the 1953-55 collaboration between the Botany and Zoology departments, and of their 1961 merger, require further investigation.
Records from Dean's Office of the College of Arts and Sciences (9), the Office of the Secretary (5), the personal papers of George T. Jones (30/107) , Annual Reports of the President (00/00/2) , and the papers of Albert A. Wright (30/17), may well fill in many of the gaps in this departmental record. The Annual Reports of the College President contain yearly summaries from the Botany Department (1905-1930), which add to the body of documentation for this academic unit.
Series I. Account Books, 1899-1960 (5 vol.) (0.41.f.)
Consisting of five volumes, these account books record the annual expenditures of the Botany Department. Money expended on staff salaries, student assistants, laboratory equipment and supplies, and other departmental expenses are recorded here. Series is arranged chronologically.
Series II. Faculty Files, 1889-1903, 1938, n.d. (11f) (0.61.f.)
Included in the loose papers of F.D. Kelsey, Herbert L. Jones, and Albert A. Wright are field notebooks, plant lists, and published works. Of particular interest are the lists of Lorain county plants kept by Jones and Wright. Other items of note include Kelsey's Oberlin College Laboratory Bulletins, which were used in classroom instruction. A scrapbook given to Susan P. Nichols upon her retirement in 1938 contains correspondence and photographs of faculty, staff, students, and Botany Department facilities. Series is arranged alphabetically by faculty member.
Series III. Grade Books, 1900-1963 (82 vol.) (0.81.f.)
The Botany faculty grade books are arranged alphabetically by faculty member, and chronologically thereunder. Each grade book contains the student listings and grades for various Botany classes.
Series IV. Miscellaneous Files, 1888-1960, 1971, n.d. (12f) (0.6 I.f.)
Items include a listing of Botany majors (1888-1957), letters of recommendation for Botany students (1930-1950), notes on former students (1940-1960), the syllabus from a 1971 botany course, notes on the Arboretum, and reports by Frederick Grover on Lincoln House (1913), the Botany Department (1900), and the Herbarium (1957). Arrangement is chronological by item.
Series V. Miscellaneous Printed Material, 1846, 1872-74, 1888-89, 1892-93, 1898,
1905, 1933, 1936, 1988, n.d. (10f) (1.0 I.f.)
This series contains several published plant listings and catalogs. Included are the Catalog of North American Plants (1888), Fourth State Catalog of Ohio Plants (1888), List of Plants Contained in the 6th Edition of Gray's Manual (1893), and Evolution, Racial and Habitudinal, by Rev. John T. Gulick (1905).
Series VI. Student Files, 1938-1978 (18f) (0.8 I.f.)
Files include letters sent to the department by students after they had graduated from Oberlin, as well as co pies of recommendation written by department staff members on behalf of Botany students. Series is arranged alphabetically. Some files may be restricted.
Series VII. Student Papers, 1878, 1882-89, 1902, c. 1909- c.1913, n.d. (14f) (0.6 I.f.)
Records include the student papers of Henry C. Beardslee (c. 1887), Frederick E. Leonard (c. 1889), and Alfred E. Rick seeker (c. 1894). They consist of field notebooks, plant lists, and small herbariums. Of particular interest are the 1883 field notebooks of Fred E. Leonard, which list those plants he identified while visiting Utah. A children's story entitled "The Bungle Book" by Stephen R. Williams (c. 1892) is also included. Series is arranged alphabetically by student.
Series VIII. Herbarium, 1874-1987, n.d. (73f and 4 vol.) (3.0 l.f.)
Series is divided into two subseries. Subseries 1 consists of correspondence, 1952-1986, between George T. Jones and other colleges, universities and botanical institutions concerning the sale, exchange, loaning, and identification of specimens in the College Herbarium . The college and university correspondence is arranged alphabetically. Subseries 2, General Files, 1874-1987, n.d., also arranged alphabetically, contains files relating to the Oberlin College Herbarium's history and specimens, Lorain County, Ohio, and New York plants, Winter Term projects, microscope records and slide data, and materials relating to the teaching of science (Oberlin College and high school level). Subseries 3 consists of materials relating to George T. Jones, 1947-87. The subseries includes Mr. Jones' writings on the Oberlin College Herbarium as well as lists of plant species compiled by the professor, among other items.
Series IX. Non-Textual Materials, 1893, 1924-26, 1932, 1935, n.d.
(94 items) (2.45 l.f.)
This series is divided into three series: Series 1. Negatives--Glass and Film; Series 2. Photographic Prints; and Series 3. Framed Specimen. The negatives in Series 1 consist of 3 ¼ x 4, 5 x 7, and 6 3/8 x 8 3/8-inch glass plate negatives and a few film negatives of various plants from the corresponding dates of 1924-1926, 1932, 1935, and undated. Series 2 holds only one packet of prints and the original drawing from which they were taken. Series 3 holds a framed specimen collected from Rich Woods and Plum Creek Woods, part of the botany class project of Grace Dexter (OC 1894) [2006/033].