Archives and Manuscript Collections
JOB BICKNELL ELLIS PAPERS (1857-1903)
1.7 linear feet (4 boxes)
Bicknell Ellis (1829-1905) was an American mycologist best known for his
work as a collector and classifier of fungi, primarily pyrenomycetes. Ellis
was born in Potsdam, New York on January 21, 1829. He graduated from Union
College in Schenectady, New York (1849) and began an erratic career as
a classics teacher and farmer in New York, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.
Having no formal training as a botanist or mycologist, he progressively
took up mycological fieldwork and dedicated his life to the collection
and exchange of dried specimens (exsiccati), creating reference
collections sold in sets of one hundred. The most important of these so-called
"centuries" of specimens are Fungi Nova-Caesareenses [sic] (Fungi
of New Jersey) (1878) and the North American Fungi, issued in series
from 1878 to 1898.
In 1856, Ellis married Arvilla J. Bacon, who became his lifelong assistant
and collaborator in assembling duplicate sets of exsiccati. Based
in Newfield, New Jersey, Ellis maintained a voluminous correspondence with
American and European mycologists, a virtual "Who's Who" of 19th
century mycology. In 1880 Ellis began to receive financial support from
Benjamin Matlock Everhart, a wealthy merchant of Westchester, Pennsylvania.
Together they co-authored North American Pyrenomycetes (1892). With
William A. Kellerman, Ellis and Everhart founded the Journal of Mycology
(1895), a forerunner to Mycologia. Toward the end of his life (1896),
Ellis sold his collection of over 100,000 specimens to The New York Botanical
Garden for its Cryptogamic Herbarium. Ellis published over 500 scientific
articles. He died December 30, 1905 in Newfield.
SCOPE AND CONTENT
The Job Bicknell Ellis collection consists of correspondence, research
papers, catalogues, a hand-sewn pouch of loose notes, and artwork.
The artwork includes two volumes of watercolor illustrations, as well as
pen and ink and pencil sketches, entitled Figures of North American
Fungi, in slip-cased covers. Most of the material relates to the later
part of his career (ca. 1880) in collecting and identifying fungi, with
representative correspondence from a broad range of mycologists and botanists
on specimen exchange and identification.
Series 1: Correspondence
Series 2: Research Papers
Series 3: Artwork
Series 1 Correspondence, 1855-1904
0.6 lin. ft. Arranged alphabetically.
This series contains letters from a wide range of mycologists, primarily
on specimen exchange and identification. In many cases, the quantity of
correspondence is quite small, often a single letter. Notable are letters
from George Washington Carver, Mordecai Cubitt Cooke, William Farlow, Asa
Gray, H. W. Harkness, Auguste B. Langlois, Charles McIlvaine, Charles Horton
Peck, Henry Ravenel, Pier A. Saccardo, and William Trelease. The letters
of Benjamin Matlock Everhart is the largest single correspondence, numbering
over 100 items.
Series 2 Research Papers, 1877-1896
0.7 lin. ft. Arranged by subject.
There are 5 files of mycological catalogues and descriptive notes, including
a note on pyrenomycetes by Narcisse-Theophile Patouillard. The cover (boards)
of Ellis' Fungi Nova-Caesareenses (1877) is included as an incidental
item. There is an original hand-sewn pouch of loose notes on numbered specimens
of fungi (some with pencil sketches and/or attached spore prints) and a
separate file of notes, Agaricini. Each is organized alphabetically
Series 3 Artwork, 1880-82; 1888
0.4 lin. ft. Arranged by genus.
There are 2 slipcased boxes (volumes) entitled Figures of North American
Fungi. Volume I contains 149 watercolor illustrations of fleshy fungi,
dated variously 1880, 1881, 1882, and 1884, based on specimens found in
New Jersey and New York. The plates, separated by file tabs, are as follows:
(95), Gasteromycetes (7), Hydnum (7), Russula (3),
Polyporus (16), and Boletus (21). All are stamped "B.B."
and "M.B." on reverse and have watermark initials on the front. One polypore
illustration is signed "Charles H. Peck, Albany, State Museum of Natural
History, 21 Dec 1880." Volume II contains 26 ink sketches of microscopic
structures and ascocarps of various ascomycetes, all identified on reverse
Farlow Reference Library, Harvard University
Papers of William Gibson Farlow, 1844-1919
Collection of Botanists Papers, 1855-1946
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
The LuEsther T. Mertz Library
The New York Botanical Garden
Bronx, NY 10458-5126
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