Archives and Manuscript Collections
SIDNEY FAY BLAKE PAPERS (1922-1953)
2.5 linear inches (1 box)
Fay Blake (1892-1959) was a taxonomist who was recognized as one of the
world's experts on botanical nomenclature. His area was the Compositae.
In 1956 he was named one of the 50 greatest living botanists in America
by the Botanical Society of America. Blake contributed a treatment of the
Polygalaceae to the original North American Flora.
Additionally, Blake was a bibliographer. The "Geographical Guide to
the Floras of the World," which he began with Alice C. Atwood, a librarian
at the Department of Agriculture library, provides a reference to obscure
and famous floras, both books and articles, arranged geographically.
Sidney Blake was born in Stoughton, Massaschusetts on August 31, 1892.
As a youth he came under the influence of Professor R. G. Leavitt, a neighbor
who happened to be a botanist at Harvard. Blake entered Harvard with the
purpose of studying botany. While there he studied with Benjamin Lincoln
(B. L.) Robinson and Merritt Lyndon Fernald. He received his Ph.D. in 1916.
His thesis was on Viguiera.
Following graduation, he joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture working
under Frederick Coville in the Division of Botany where he prepared the
Standardized Plant names. Blake refused promotions to administrative positions
and for his entire career performed workmanlike tasks. All of his pure
research was done in his spare time. His other areas of interest were paleontology
and researching Sherlock Holmes for the Baker Street Journal.
In 1943 he was elected President of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists.
Blake was married to the former Doris M. Holmes, an entomologist. They
resided in Arlington, Virginia. The Blakes had one daughter, Doris Sidney
Ullman, of Urbana, Ill.
Sidney Blake died in his laboratory at Beltsville, Maryland on December.
31, 1959. He was memorialized in Taxon 9 (June, 1960), which featured his
complete bibliography. His herbarium and library were acquired by the Texas
Research Foundation. When the Texas Research Foundation was liquidated,
its property and lands were distributed to Texas A&M University and
the University of Texas at Dallas and at Austin.
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE
The Sidney Fay Blake Papers, 1922-1953, document Blake's collegial relationships
within the international taxonomic community. It contains letters and postcards.
Series 1: Correspondence
Series 1 Correspondence
2.5 lin. in. Arranged alphabetically by correspondent.
This series contains selected correspondence on taxonomic issues with
colleagues in the United States, Latin America, and Europe.
The New York Botanical Garden
PP William Cashman Ferguson Papers
RG4 Elmer Drew Merrill Records
American Philosophical Society
Sidney Fay Blake Correspondence
Gray Herbarium and Arnold Arboretum Combined Libraries, Harvard University
Papers of Benjamin Lincoln Robinson, 1887-1934
Administrative Correspondence of the Gray Herbarium, 179?-1965
Processed January 2000 by Laura Zelasnic, Project Archivist,
under a grant from The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH PA-23141-98)
and 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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