Archives and Manuscript Collections
Records of the Herbarium (RG 4)
HOWARD S. IRWIN RECORDS (1944-1980)
3 linear feet (4 boxes)
Samuel Irwin, a taxonomic botanist specializing in the study of Cassia,
began his career at the NYBG in 1960 as a Research Associate and worked
his way up to the position of President from 1973-1979.
Born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1928, he received his undergraduate
degree from the College of Puget Sound in 1950. A Fulbright scholar teaching
botany and zoology at Queen's College in British Guiana from 1952-1956,
he returned to the USA to study at the University of Texas for his PhD
in taxonomic botany from 1956-1960.
Dr. Irwin began his association with the NYBG as early as 1956 when
he began to participate in NYBG's Venezuelan expeditions. He joined the
staff and served as Research Associate from 1960-1963, Associate Curator
from 1963-1966, Curator and Administrator of the Herbarium from 1966-1968,
Head Curator from 1968-1971, Executive Director from 1971-1972 and finally
as President from 1973-1979.
During his time at the NYBG, Dr. Irwin led eight expeditions to Brazil
and the Guianas between 1960-1972 and is most known for coordinating the
Planalto do Brasil Program for the botanical study of this isolated region
of Brasil. Dr. Irwin is also responsible for administering the NYBG through
its most difficult financial period.
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE
The Howard S. Irwin Records cover the entire period of his employment
at the NYBG. There are also papers from the late 1950's concerning the
NYBG Venezuelan expeditions of which he was a member while in graduate
school as well as a file called parting thoughts written to his successor
Thomas Hubbard, which Dr. Irwin wished to have included with this collection.
The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence. Included herein
are also maps, manuscripts, photographs and newspaper clippings. Also included
is the original manuscrpt of his dissertation along with its accompanying
commentary. The Collectors' Field Notebooks series contains 20 of Dr. Irwin's
field notebooks. All of them concern Brazil and the Guyanas, except for
the earliest dated 1944-45 which concerns Ecuador.
Series 1: Planalto do Brasil
Series 2: Lectures
Series 3: Correspondence (Subject)
Series 4: Correspondence (People)
Series 5: Dissertation
Series 1 Planalto do Brasil
5 lin. in. Arranged alphabetically
The Planalto do Brasil Project was founded and directed by Dr. Irwin
from 1964 to 1972, at which time he gave up the directorship. It was a
ten year collaboration between the NYBG and the Universidade de Brasilia
to explore and collect in the plateau of south-central Brazil of the same
name. By 1972 the program had collected over 225,000 specimens and over
30,000 numbers. Included in this series is the correspondence written and
answered while on expedition, permits, budgets, supply lists, determinations
and financial statements.
Series 2 Lectures
4 lin. in. Arranged alphabetically
These lectures were given by Dr. Irwin at a variety of events from groundbreaking
ceremonies and symposia to professional societies and radio interviews.
Some of them appear to be articles for publication rather than lectures
but they were all labelled as such. There is also a file of various undated
lectures and correspondence pertaining to lecturing.
Series 3 Correspondence (Subject)
15 lin. in. Arranged alphabetically
These subject oriented correspondence files include expedition reports,
supply lists, specimen determinations, annual reports, book reviews, grant
applications and manuscripts. Included are files on Cassia research in
conjunction with Rupert Barneby, a Cassieae key, the early use of computers
in taxonomy, Time-Life, Crowell-Collier and University of Texas publishers,
the Museu Goeldi, the Smithsonian and its specimen determinations from
British Guiana expeditions, photographs from the 1963 Suriname Expedition
and a file of letters written to Thomas Hubbard, the President who succeeded
Dr. Irwin at the NYBG, entitled parting thoughts.
Series 4 Correspondence (People)
13 lin. in. Arranged alphabetically
These files contain personal correspondence from Dr. Irwin's career
at the NYBG. Important correspondants include: B. L. Turner of the University
of Texas Department of Botany, William Steere, Bassett Maguire and Rupert
Barneby, all of the NYBG. It should be noted that a large part of the correspondence
of Dr. Irwin can also be found within the Administrative Records of the
NYBG as well as the Records of the Herbarium. Alston correspondence concerns
Cassia as does that of Barneby. Rogers is concerned with Manihot and the
early use of computers in taxonomy. Steere is concerned mostly with financial
and administrative planning. Cowan contains Maguire's Guianan determination
lists. Tillett contains an account of the 1961 Jari River Expedition in
which Walter A. Engler met his death as well as an account of the fire
which ravaged Dr. Irwin's home in New York, lists of wood samples
collected in British Guiana and a list of the drug samples collected for
the Ely Lilly Company.
Series 5 Dissertation
1 lin. in.
The original typescript manuscript of Dr. Irwin's dissertation along
with the accompanying commentary from his advisor Dr. Richard S. Cowan.
New York Botanical Garden
CFN Numbers 130-31, 214, 341, 427-39, 441-42,
RG4 Records of the Herbarium
RG3 Records of the Chief Executive Officer
Processed January 2000 by Stephen Sinon 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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