Archives and Manuscript Collections
PERSONAL PAPERS OF MARSHALL AVERY HOWE (1879-1936)
3 linear feet
Avery Howe was born in Newfane, Vermont on June 6th, 1887. The
eldest of 5 children he was named after his father Marshall Otis Howe and
his maternal grandfather Avery Joseph Dexter and was insistent on using
his full name. Marshall Avery Howe graduated from the University of Vermont
in 1890, where he was room mates with his life long friend Dr. Abel Grout.
On leaving college, Howe taught for a year in the Brattleboro High School
but left in the summer of 1891 to become an Instructor in Cryptogamic Botany
at the University of California at Berkeley. At the end of the 1895-96
college year, Howe resigned to accept a fellowship at Columbia University
where he studied Hepaticae with Lucien Underwood. He received his Ph.D
from Columbia in 1898 and from 1898 to 1901 was Curator of the University
Herbarium. During this time, the plans for the creation of the New York
Botanical Garden were materializing and the Columbia University Herbarium
was deposited at the NYBG. In 1901 Howe became a member of the NYBG scientific
staff and in 1906 became curator. From 1901 until his death in 1936, Howe
was associated with the NYBG being appointed Assistant Director in 1923
and Director in 1935 after the resignation of Elmer Drew Merrill.
During his 35 year association with the New York Botanical Garden, Marshall
Avery Howe served as a plant collector, participating in numerous expeditions,
he arranged exhibits, he distributed plant specimens primarily of algae
and hepaticae, he was a taxonomist, a morphologist, an editor, an administrator
as well as an expert on, and cultivator of dahlias and other ornamental
plants. His work was done meticulously, with insight and thoroughness.
His home life was quiet and dignified. He made his home in Pleasantville,
New York where he was an active member of the "Garden Club", and served
as secretary and later President of the Board of Trustees of the Pleasantville
Free Library. He lectured frequently at the local Men's club of Pleasantville
and at numerous other venues. He married Edith Morton Packard in 1909 and
had two children Gertrude Dexter Howe and Prentiss Mellen Howe.
SCOPE AND CONTENT
The M.A. Howe papers documents his domestic and pubic life outside NYBG;
including newspaper clippings of his botanical and administrative activities.
It contains correspondence, diaries, scrapbooks, lecture notes, manuscripts
and photographs. The collections is arranged in four series.
Series 1: Diaries 1900-1936
Series 2: Correspondence. 1884-1930
Series 3: Scrapbooks and Clippings. 1879-1936
Series 4: Essays, lectures and addresses - 1886-1934
5 lin. in. Arranged chronologically.
Howe kept a daily log of his personal activities and the events of the
day. Most entries are very brief and may describe the days weather conditions.
They are not detailed chronicles of his scientific or personal exploits
but rather simple chronicles of his daily life. There are 37 small volumes
dating from 1900 to 1936 (there are two volumes for 1936.
1 lin. in. Arranged chronologically.
Some of the correspondence in this series had been removed from its
original place in the scrapbooks and photocopies were put in their place.
Much of the correspondence in this collection of papers are contained with
in the scrapbook and clipping series as they are bound in the scrapbooks.
Scrapbooks and Clippings. 1879-1936.
2 lin. ft. Arranged chronologically.
This series contain a number of bound scrapbooks as well as loose material
that was meant to be inserted into the scrapbooks. The scrapbooks include
letters. Invitations, newspaper clippings relating to his family or local
affiliations such as the NYBG or the Pleasantville Library, etc. Howe also
saved programs and dinner menus, award notifications and programs from
theatrical productions his children were involved in.
Essays, lectures and addresses. 1886-1934.
5 lin. in. Arranged chronologically.
This series contains Howe's essays written when he was a student, as
well as some of the numerous lectures and address he was asked to give
on behalf of the Garden Club or Pleasantville, the Men's Club of Pleasantville,
the Pleasantville Library, or as an outstanding citizen of Vermont, etc.
This material was donated to the NYBG by Mrs. Gertrude Newton, M.A.
Howe's daughter, and the Packard family, and transferred to the NYBG by
Dr. Frans Stafleu, and Pat and Noel Holmgren, in 1987.
New York Botanical Garden
RG 4: Marshall Avery Howe Records
RG 3: Records of the Chief Executive Officer
Processed March 1999 by Susan Fraser 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, New York 10458-5126
Back to Top