The New York Botanical Garden International Plant Science Center
Mertz Library
Science Home ... Mertz Library ... Archives and Manuscripts

Daniel Trembly MacDougal (1865-1958)

Library Collections & Resources

Finding Guide

Archives and Manuscripts

Books and Journals

NonBook Collection

Circulating Collection

Searchable Databases and Electronic Resources

Archives and Manuscript Collections

Personal Papers
3 linear inches (1 box)


Daniel Trembly MacDougal (1865-1958) began working at The New York Botanical Garden in 1899 as Director of the Laboratories and was promoted in 1904 to an Assistant Directorship. He was recognized as the leading American authority on desert ecology and was one of the first botanists to research chlorophyll. He is also known as the inventor of the MacDougal dendrograph, an instrument used for recording changes in the volume of tree trunks.

Born in Liberty, Indiana in 1865, MacDougal attended DePauw University, where he received his masters degree in 1894. He went on to receive a Ph.D. from Purdue University and to pursue post-doctoral studies in Leipzig and Tubingen. He was employed by the United States Department of Agriculture to collect specimens in Idaho and Arizona during the summers of 1891 and 1892. He taught plant physiology at the University of Minnesota from 1893 until he left in 1899 to come to The New York Botanical Garden. After seven years at the Garden, MacDougal left to become Director of Botanical Research at the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D.C. He remained at the Carnegie Institution until his retirement in 1933.

While at The New York Botanical Garden, Dr. MacDougal served on a committee to establish a tropical research laboratory. This led to the establishment in 1905 of the Plant Desert Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona. He was appointed its first director and it would later become part of the Carnegie Institution. In 1907, MacDougal organized the Pinacate expedition, to study the lava fields of Mexico with Godfrey Sykes and William T. Hornaday, who published a book on the expedition. In 1909, he established a coastal botanical lab in Carmel, California and became known as an expert on the Monterey pines. He teamed up with Godfrey Sykes once again in 1912 to cross the Libyan desert.

Dr. MacDougal received many honors in his lifetime and was a member of several scholarly organizations. Among these were the Hollandsche Maatschappe d. Welenschappen, Societe d'Acclimation de France, American Philosophical Society, Explorers Club, American Society of Plant Physiology, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was an honorary member of the California Academy of Sciences and the Botanical Society of Edinburgh, as well as a life member of the Torrey Botanical Club and the Botanical Society of America, from which he received a merit award in 1956. He was the recipient of two honorary degrees, one in 1912 from DePauw and one in 1915 from the University of Arizona. In 1950 MacDougal was elected honorary president of the International Botanical Congress in Stockholm and was awarded the first Certificate of Distinguished Service from The New York Botanical Garden in 1956.


The Daniel T. MacDougal collection consist mostly of correspondence. After Dr. MacDougal left the employ of The New York Botanical Garden in 1905, no further papers were deposited with the Garden. The bulk of this collection is concerned with the attempt to establish a botanical research station in the tropics. It should be noted that Dr. MacDougal was employed by the University of Minnesota at the time of the creation of this Tropical Laboratory Commission.

The Garden also owns six of Dr. MacDougal's field notebooks in the Collectors' Field Notebooks series. Numbers 7 through 10 are dated 1892-1900 and are concerned with Idaho. Numbers 11 and 12 are dated 1901 and are concerned with Nebraska and Montana.


Series 1: Tropical Laboratory Commission, 1896-1898
Series 2: General Correspondence, 1899-1905

Series 1     Tropical Laboratory Commission, 1896-1898
                   2 lin. in. Arranged chronologically.

This series includes correspondence written and received while at the University of Minnesota concerning the establishment of a tropical botanical research station. The letters deal with appeals for support, and background information and arrangements for site exploration trips. Jamaica seems to be the top contender for a site but no mention is made of Arizona, which was eventually chosen.

Series 2     General Correspondence, 1899-1905
                   6 folders. Arranged by date.

Contained in this series are several letters from Alexander P. Anderson discussing his patents for the creation of puffed rice cereal, a process which he discovered while at the Garden.


The New York Botanical Garden

RG4     The Alexander P. Anderson Records

CFN    Numbers 7-12

The Carnegie Institution of Washington, Department of Plant Biology

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

  Back to Top

NYBG Home  |  Science Home  |  About Us  |  Site Map  |  Participate  |  Contact Us
© 2003 The New York Botanical Garden  |  Photo Credits
Terms of Use  |  We welcome your feedback and suggestions.