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Personal Papers
5.4 linear feet (22 boxes)


Gertrude Burlingham (1872-1952) was a mycologist and specialist in the genera Lactarius and Russula. She was born in Mexico, New York on April 21, 1872 and received her B.S. (1898) from Syracuse University and Ph.D. (1908) from Columbia University after graduate studies in mycology, plant physiology, and the taxonomy of the Agaricaceae. In 1906 she began studies of Lactarius in Windham County, Vermont and initiated correspondence and specimen exchanges with Charles H. Peck of the New York State University. During this time she also pursued studies at The New York Botanical Garden.

Dr. Burlingham was a biology teacher in Binghamton, New York from 1898 to 1905 and at the Eastern District High School in Brooklyn from 1909 to her retirement in 1934. She pursued a parallel, unpaid career as a mycologist, making significant contributions to the field. In 1908 she published her doctoral thesis, A Study of the Lactariae of the United States in The Memoirs of the Torrey Botanical Club. From 1914 she made Vermont a second home where she collected substantial numbers of Lactarius and Russula specimens that became part of the Gertrude S. Burlingham Collection of The New York Botanical Garden Cryptogamic Herbarium.

Dr. Burlingham used the genus name "Lactaria" (cf. "Lactarius" used here) in conformance with the "American Code" of botanical nomenclature promulgated by Nathaniel Lord Britton. "Lactaria" was retained due to its chronological priority, though "Lactarius" remained a legitimate homonym. In surveying the genus she conducted fieldwork on the Pacific coast, in Sweden with Lars Romell, and in Denmark with Jakob Lange. During her career she published 19 scientific papers and described several new species of Lactarius and Russula. She remained actively involved in mycology after her retirement in Florida, where she died in 1952.


The Gertrude S. Burlingham collection consists of correspondence, research papers, photography, personal papers, and watercolor illustrations of fungi composed by her colleague Ann Hibbard, covering her 50-year career in mycology. Her field notebooks are separated and held in The New York Botanical Garden Collectors' Field Notebook Collection.


Series 1: Correspondence
Series 2: Research Papers
Series 3: Manuscripts and Typescripts
Series 4: Photographic Material
Series 5: Watercolor Illustrations
Series 6: Personal Papers

Series 1    Correspondence, 1904-1944
                  0.25 lin. ft. Arranged alphabetically.

This series consists of 32 files of correspondence with mycologists including Henry C. Beardslee, C. H. Kauffman, Howard Kelly, Jakob Lange, Charles H. Peck, Lars Romell, Rolf Singer, Alexander H. Smith, and others. There is one file of unidentified letters.

Series 2    Research Papers, 1906-1937
                  1.25 lin. ft. Arranged by subject.

There are 26 files and 2 boxes of index cards pertaining to studies of Lactarius, Russula, Amanita, and Lepiota. Materials include species descriptions, dichotomous keys, bibliographies, laboratory records, and annotated notes with pencil sketches, attached spore prints, and literature citations. There is an index to Russula species in the Burlingham collection of The New York Botanical Garden Herbarium and 3 files of notes on the effects of magnesium sulfate on the growth of seedlings published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Series 3    Manuscripts and Typescripts, 1917-1936
                  1.0 lin. in. Arranged by subject.

There are 4 manuscript files. One, New or Noteworthy Species of Russula and Lactaria, includes annotated descriptions of species in Dr. Burlingham's 1918 paper on the subject.

Series 4    Photographic Material, 1911-1951
                  3.5 lin. ft. Arranged by subject; then, chronologically.

There are 16 boxes of photographic material consisting of several hundred black-and-white photos with corresponding negatives. Nine boxes of negatives are glass. Subjects are primarily of mushroom specimens (Russula, Lactarius, Amanita, and Lepiota) as well as scenic views and group photos of the 1935 foray of the Mycological Society of America taken by Lars Romell. There are a few photos taken by Henry C. Beardslee with his accompanying descriptive notes. Most photography dates from the late 1930's and 1940's. All corresponding photos and negatives have been cross-referenced with a note posted on the envelope.

Series 5    Watercolor Illustrations, 1915-1924
                  0.20 lin. ft. Arranged by species.

There is 1 file of 60 watercolor illustrations by Ann Hibbard who collaborated with Dr. Burlingham in the study of Lactarius and Russula. All illustrations are watercolor paintings over pencil sketches, primarily of species of Russula.

Series 6    Personal Papers, 1886-1924
                  1.0 lin. in. Arranged by subject.

The 6 files in this series include an address book, elementary-school teaching certificates, and incidental items.

Processed May 1999 by David Rose 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 Archivist
The LuEsther T. Mertz Library
The New York Botanical Garden
Bronx, NY 10458-5126
(718) 817-8879

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