Archives and Manuscript Collections
RECORDS OF THE HERBARIUM (RG 4)
HERMAN F. BECKER RECORDS (1948-1983)
2.5 linear feet (3 boxes)
F. Becker (1907-1985) was a renowned paleobotanist whose specialty was
the Tertiary paleobotany of southwest Montana. He was employed by The New
York Botanical Garden from 1958 to 1974 and served as Curator of Paleobotany
Born in Dusseldorf, Germany, Dr. Becker studied horticulture at the
Berlin Botanical Gardens and emigrated to the United States in 1930. He
was initially employed as a horticultural assistant and eventually became
Superintendent of the Conservatory for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. He
attended Brooklyn College from 1939 to 1947, when he received his B.A.
He went on to study botany at Columbia University and received his M.A.
in 1952. Dr. Becker then went to the University of Michigan to study paleobotany
with Chester Arnold and received his Ph.D. in 1956.
From 1947 to 1968, Dr. Becker made a total of ten summer expeditions
to the Ruby River basin of southwestern Montana. These shale deposits provided
him with the research material he needed to complete his dissertation and
he continued to write extensively about the deposits of this area. He also
was known for his work in clarifying the structure of the controversial
Sanmiguelia from the Triassic deposits of Colorado.
Dr. Becker received many honora during his lifetime. He was a member
of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists, the Cactus and Succulent
Society of America, and the New York Academy of Sciences. He served as
a fellow of the Geological Society of America and as president and vice-president
of the Torrey Botanical Club. In 1977 he received a Distinguished Service
Award from the Botanical Society of America. In 1981 he received a Distinguished
Achievement Award from the Brooklyn College Alumni Association, and in
1985 a symposium was held in his honor entitled "Evolution of the Modern
Vegetation of the Northern Rocky Mountains." The symposium was jointly
held by the Botanical Society of America and the American Association for
the Advancement of Science.
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE
This collection consists entirely of the correspondence relating to
Dr. Becker's professional life, both during his years at the Garden (1958-1974)
and prior to that time.. It is divided into two series and was organized
by Dr. Becker himself. Many correspondents began their relationships
with Dr. Becker before he came to the Garden and continued to correspond
with him until his death. There are several groups of fossil photographs
with their related correspondence attached. Dr. Becker's existing field
notebooks are located in the Collectors' Field Notebooks Series. Notebook
number 626 covers the Bronx, Manhattan, Palisades Interstate Park
in New Jersey, and Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Notebook number 627 covers
Montana's Ruby River basin and Washington, D.C.
Series 1: Domestic Correspondence, 1948-1983
Series 2: International Correspondence, 1958-1981
Series 3: Herbarium Records, 1959-1980
Series 1 Domestic Correspondence, 1948-1983
18.5 lin. in. Arranged alphabetically and then chronologically.
Materials in this series include correspondence concerning Dr. Becker's
publications, professional memberships, fieldwork, grant applications,
student recommendations, and requests for reprints. The series also includes
inter-office correspondence within the New York Botanical Garden Herbarium,
and a brief history of the New York Botanical Garden Paleobotany Collections.
Many correspondents are listed under the institution they are affiliated
with rather than by their personal name. Dr. Becker maintained a close
personal correspondence with many colleagues, especially Chester Arnold,
Roland W. Brown, Harry D. MacGinitie, John A. Dorr, and Joseph Wood.
Series 2 International Correspondence, 1958-1981
6 lin. in. Arranged by country and then correspondent.
Correspondents in this series are arranged geographically. Dr. Becker
maintained a close personal correspondence with Julius Nagele of Stuttgart,
Germany and Toshimasa Tanai of Sapporo, Japan. Germany, Poland, and Japan
are the countries most represented in this series.
Series 3 Herbarium Records, 1959-1980
4 lin. in. Arranged by subject.
These files relate to the storage, display, identification, acquisition,
and loaning of the New York Botanical Garden fossil collections. Included
are lists of unidentified specimens, Dr. Hollick's numbering system (Becker's
predecessor), requests for illustration material, fieldwork expense reports,
and budget planning. These files were found among Dr. Becker's personal
papers and have been transferred to the Herbarium Records Group.
The New York Botanical Garden
PP The Herman F. Becker Papers
RG4 The Charles Arthur Hollick Records
CFN Numbers 626-627
In 1983, the New York Botanical Garden Paleobotanical Collections were
transferred to Yale University's Peabody Museum of Natural History on long-term
loan, where they are maintained as a discrete collection.
Processed March 1999 by Stephen Sinon under a grant from
the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) PA-23141-98 and a grant
from the Harriet Ford Dickenson Foundation.
For more information and a complete description contact:
Susan Fraser, NYBG
The LuEsther T. Mertz Library
The New York Botanical Garden
Bronx, NY 10458-5126
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