Archives and Manuscript Collections
Record Group 4 (RG4)
ROBERT HAGELSTEIN RECORDS
4 linear feet (9 boxes)
Hagelstein was Honorary Curator of Myxomycetes at The New York Botanical
Garden from 1930 until his death in 1945. He accompanied Nathaniel Lord
Britton on the Scientific Survey of Porto Rico in 1926, 1928, and 1929.
His Diatomaceae of Porto Rico and the Virgin Islands was published
by the New York Academy of Sciences in 1939.
Hagelstein was born May 16, 1870, in Brooklyn, New York. Hagelstein
was self-taught. After graduating from high school in Brooklyn, Hagelstein
joined J. and D. Lehman Co., a glove manufacturer located at 15 Union Square
West in New York City. He retired as manager in 1925 and dedicated himself
full-time to his scientific studies.
His first interest was microscopy. This he studied as a young man, at
the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences. Throughout his career he continued
to do his own photomicrography. The photographs in his monograph
Mycetozoa of North America, based on the specimens in
the herbarium of the New York Botanical Garden, are examples of his
mastery of microphotography.
Hagelstein served as President of the New York Microscopical Society
during 1923 and 1924. At the time, Hagelstein was engaged in the study
and photomicrography of diatoms. Nathaniel Lord Britton, a member of the
Society, invited Hagelstein to participate in the Scientific Survey of
Porto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Hagelstein's attention was captured by the myxomycetes, then known as
mycetozoa. At first he studied them concurrently with the diatoms. Eventually
they became his primary interest. He made collecting trips from Canada
to Florida, concentrating primarily on Long Island and Pennsylvania. His
first publication on Mycetozoa appeared in 1927.
Concurrent with his service as Honorary Curator of Myxomycetes, Hagelstein
was the unofficial curator of microscopic devices in the New York Botanical
Garden collection. In 1936, the New York State Museum invited him to survey,
verify, and make determinations for its myxomycete collections, including
materials collected by Charles H. Peck.
When he began his curatorship, the New York Botanical Garden's myxomycete
collection consisted of 2,000 specimens collected by J. B. Ellis. Hagelstein
oversaw the purchase of the W. C. Sturgis collection of 3,200 specimens.
By 1943 the collection had grown to 13,207 specimens. Of those, Hagelstein
collected 4,970, and 2,700 were gained through the exchange of materials
he had personally collected. Of the 319 accepted world species at the time,
304 could be found in the New York Botanical Garden Herbarium. Hagelstein
kept detailed records of the collection including microscopical study of
sporangia and spores, and he drew upon this collection while writing The
Mycetozoa of North America. A reviewer at the time called it
"a momentous revelation of painstaking study..." and said, "The air has been
cleared of confusion in the validity of many species by the author's scrupulous
examination and comparison of countless specimens in the world's largest
collection of Myxomycetes."
In 1940, he lent his collection of 15,000 slides of diatoms to the New
York Botanical Garden; it included the collections of D. B. Ward, W. A.
Poysner, and others that he had purchased over the years. On January 11,
1941, a room in the Cryptogamic Herbarium was dedicated to Hagelstein's
two interests - diatoms and myxomycetes.
Throughout his career, Hagelstein enthusiastically shared his interests
with amateurs. He is remembered for the entertaining and informative field
trips he led for members of the New York Botanical Garden. He died on October
20, 1945, in Mineola, Long Island, New York, survived by his wife Marsha
and a sister, Charlotte Hagelstein, of Brooklyn, New York.
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE
The Robert Hagelstein Records, 1904-1945, document Hagelstein's study
of myxomycetes from the inception through the publication of his monograph
The Mycetezoa of North America, based on the specimens in the herbarium
of the New York Botanical Garden. The production of the book
is documented thoroughly with the annotated typescript, photographs, galleys,
and the photoengraved plates used to produce the work. The bulk of the
material consists of correspondence with colleagues around the world, concerning
determinations and specimen exchanges. Notebooks include specimen studies
and an informal journal of his collecting trip to the West Indies. The
collection is arranged into six series. The Garden also owns one of Dr.
Hagelstein's field notebooks in its Collectors' Field Notebooks series.
Series 1: Correspondence, 1918-1945
Subseries A: 1918-1926
Subseries B: 1927-1942
Subseries C: 1943-1945
Series 2: Myxomycetes, 1927-1945
Series 3: Notebooks, 1929-1931
Series 4: Manuscripts, 1904-1944
Series 5: The Mycetozoa of North America, 1943-1945
Series 6: Photographs
Subseries A: Mycetozoa of North America
Subseries B: Journal Articles, 1929-1938
Subseries C: Specimens, 1936-n.d.
Series 1 Correspondence,
1.8 lin. ft. Arranged chronologically into subseries. Arranged alphabetically
within the subseries.
Hagelstein's correspondence contains lists of specimens of both diatoms
and myxomycetes, as well as formal and informal views from the most renowned
scholars of both fields. In his capacity as President of the New York Microscopical
Society, he exchanged information with similar groups throughout the world.
The McKinley and Morris folders in Subseries A contain information about
Hagelstein's financial investments and have informative value for students
of that aspect of the era. More information on this historical aspect is
found in Series 4: Manuscripts, where the backs of his lecture notes on
diatoms are the February 1904 dailies of the Wall Street Journal
electric news-ticker. All photographs which originally were enclosed in
correspondence have been removed and placed into Series 6: Photographs.
Series 2 Myxomycetes,
8 folders. Arranged by subject.
Materials in this series relate to Hagelstein's primary interest and
his role as curator at the New York Botanical Garden. Included are inventory
lists for the New York Botanical Garden collections and those at the New
York State Museum and the Farlow Herbarium. There is also a list of specimen
donors by name. Two notebooks record dispatches and exchanges and there
is a geographic distribution chart, made by Hagelstein. Correspondence
regarding myxomycetes is located in Series 1: Correspondence. All photographs
have been removed and placed into Series 6: Photographs.
Series 3 Notebooks,
3 folders. Arranged by subject.
The notebooks in this series are: a trial log of photomicrography, 1929-1931;
a non-scientific journal of his voyage to the West-Indies in 1931; and
1 laboratory book dated 1930-1942 which records observations on particular
Series 4 Manuscripts,
0.75 lin. ft. Arranged by subject.
Manuscripts and typescripts for lectures, and published and unpublished
articles are included in this series. The first folder, "Lecture notes
on diatoms," consists of hand-written notes on the backs of Wall Street
Journal electric page news-ticker service bulletins for the month of
February 1904. Another item is an article written for Hobbies magazine
extolling myxomycetes as a hobby. The query letter related to that piece
is found in Series 1: Correspondence. The text of a talk on his experiences
in the West Indies can also be found in this series. A History of the
Microscope, which was never published, is included along with two folders
containing English translations, in Hagelstein's handwriting, of chapter
2 of Frederich Brieger's Selbsterilität. Typescripts for Hagelstein's
series Notes on the Mycetozoa, which was published in Mycologia,
are also found here. All photographs have been removed and placed in Series
Series 5 The
Mycetozoa of North America, 1944
1.1 lin. ft. Arranged by subject.
This series contains all the material related to the production of The
Mycetozoa of North America, based on the speciments in the herbarium of
the New York Botanical Garden. Correspondence regards sales of the
book after it was published and letters of praise. The complete typescript
is found here, as are page proofs, printer's galleys, and an advertising
prospectus. The set of photoengraved half-tone plates (less plate 16) used
for the black and white photographic illustrations, and the color separation
plates for the lithographic illustrations are preserved in this series.
The photographs themselves have been transferred to Series 6: Photographs.
Series 6 Photographs,
5 lin. in. Arranged by subject.
This series contains all of the photographs, layouts, exposure trials
and exposure logs used in The Mycetozoa of North America, based on the
speciments in the herbarium of the New York Botanical Garden. Photengraved
half-tones of these plates are found in Series 5: Mycetozoa of
North America. Other photographs are connected with journal articles.
Photographs of the specimen Laproderma Muscorum can also be found
here. The is a group of diatoms photographed by E. W. Roberts in
1936. Correspondence connected to the transmission of those photgraphs
can be found in Series 1: Correspondence.
The New York Botanical Garden
PP The William Codman Sturgis Papers
CFN Number 394
Processed February 1999 by Laura Zelasnic 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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