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Charles Arthur Hollick (1857-1933)

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Records of the Herbarium (RG 4)
8 linear feet (10 boxes)


Charles Arthur Hollick (1857-1933) was a Paleobotanist. He served The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) as Assistant Curator of the Garden (1901-1913), Honorary Curator of Fossil Plants (1913-1921), Paleobotanist (1921-1932), and Research Associate in Paleobotany (1932-1933). Between 1913 and 1919 he served as Director of the Public Museum of the Staten Island Association of Arts and Sciences (now the Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences), an organization he was instrumental in founding in 1881.

Hollick graduated from the Columbia College School of Mines in 1879 and received his Ph.D. from George Washington University in 1897. He made the first paleobotanical survey of Alaska in 1903, and his findings were published by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) as Professional Papers 159 and 182. Hollick collected for the Maryland Geological Survey in 1901, and this work is published in the Pliocene and Pleistocene volume of the Maryland Geological Survey (1906). In addition, he collected in New England and New Jersey with E. C. Jeffrey, of Harvard University, another lifelong friend. He published on the Cretaceous floras of New England for the USGS (Monograph 50, 1906).

For the general public Dr. Hollick produced articles on palaeobotany for the New International Encyclopaedia (1903) and the Encylopaedia Americana (1904). An expert draughtsman , he created most of the illustrations for his own and J. S. Newberry's publications. Nathaniel Lord Britton credits Hollick with producing or supervising the drawings for the first Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States and Canada.

Apart from his scientific activities, Dr. Hollick participated in New York City politics and government. From 1886 to 1892 he was a member of the Board of Health of New Brighton, Staten Island, where he established a sewerage system and abated the smoke nuisance caused by factories in Bayonne, New Jersey. From 1897 to 1904, Hollick was on the Board of Park Commissioners for Richmond County. He helped to organize the Richmond Borough branch of the Citizens Union and worked for the election of Seth Low, President of Columbia University , to mayor in 1901. Hollick also was a member of the New York City Board of Education from 1906 to 1910.

Charles Hollick was born in New Brighton, Staten Island on February 6, 1857. Except for periods with the USGS in Washington, D. C., and his field trips, he lived in Port Richmond, Staten Island all of his life. A lifelong friend of Nathaniel Lord and Elizabeth Britton, he and Nathaniel met in 1875 when both entered the School of Mines of Columbia College. Influenced by Professor John S. Newberry and his friend John J. Crooke, they joined the Torrey Botanical Club together in 1877. Hollick was Recording Secretary of the Club from 1883 to 1888 and an Associate Editor for many years. Hollick and Britton published A Catalogue of the Plants of Richmond County in 1879, the year they both graduated from the School of Mines.

In 1881, Britton and Hollick and their colleague William T. Davis became original members of the Natural Science Association of Staten Island. The specimens they collected and those of Hollick's father Dr. Frederick Hollick, an amateur geologist, formed the basis of the natural history collections of the Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences.

After graduation, Hollick traveled to California to be Superintendent of the Mexican Mine in Mariposa County, California. In February 1881 he was appointed Assistant Sanitary Engineer of the Board of Health of the City of New York. He held this position for ten years, during one of the periods of greatest growth and expansion of the City. At one time, as many as one thousand unfinished buildings were on his inspection list. Some of the projects he oversaw were the original Madison Square Garden, the Mills Building, and the Navarro Flats.

In 1882 Hollic, Britton, and Davis collected fossil plants in Wyoming and Colorado for Professor Newberry of Columbia College. Hollick continued his association with Newberry, serving as a private assistant and producing the drawings of fossil plants and fishes for many of Newberry's publications. In 1890, Newberry became ill and Hollick was appointed to fulfill his lecture schedule. This was the beginning of his active scientific career. In 1892 he was appointed Assistant in Geology, and that year, at the Lake Superior mines, he conducted the first practical field geology course in the history of the School of Mines. In 1893, Hollick's title was changed to Tutor in Geology. He also gave drawing lessons to students in geology and paleontology courses. In 1895 he produced, posthumously, Newberry's Flora of the Amboy Clays, which he edited from notes and to which he added illustrations.

When the paleobotanical collections of Columbia University were transferred to The New York Botanical Garden in 1901, Hollick was placed in charge of them as Assistant Curator.

In 1903, Hollick spent four months in Alaska under the auspices of the USGS--Division of Alaskan Mineral Resources, Reclamation Service - the first paleobotanist to do so. With Sidney Paige, he traveled 1,000 miles down the Yukon River from Dawson to Anvik, collecting materials which were to occupy him for the rest of his career. He wrote two reports on this material: The Upper Cretaceous Flora of Alaska, 1930 (Professional Paper 159) and The Tertiary Flora of Alaska, 1936 (Professional Paper 182). He did most of his own illustrations for both works.

Hollick and the Brittons collected in Jamaica 1908. Between 1913 and 1919, Hollick served as Director of the Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences, although he was associated with The New York Botanical Garden as Honorary Curator of Fossil Plants.

In 1921 he rejoined The New York Botanical Garden as Paleobotanist and in 1932 his title was changed to Research Associate in Paleontology. In 1926 he was part of the expedition to Porto Rico sponsored by the New York Academy of Sciences and the Government of Porto Rico. His descriptions and illustrations are published in the seventh volume of the Scientific Survey of Porto Rico.

Hollick's last expedition was to Cuba, from December 1932 through January 1933, where, at the age of 76, and in the company of Brother Leon, he collected in every province, traveling over 1,000 miles by foot, horseback, and primitive conveyances. Three months later, following a brief illness, he died on March 1, 1933. His work was taken up by E. W. Berry of Johns Hopkins University.


The bulk of the material in this collection is visual, comprising photographs, clippings of photographic plates and lithographic prints of figures from published works, and monoprints taken from leaves of contemporary trees and grasses. Other materials are correspondence, reprints, manuscripts, and index cards. The bulk of the materials concern Dr. Hollick's paleobotanic investigations and documentation of new species. Material in the Staten Island series relates to Dr. Hollick's study of the flora of Staten Island with N. L. Britton; his work with the Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences; and reports pertaining to his work as a member of the Board of Health of Staten Island (1886-1892). The collection is arranged into twelve series.


Series 1: Biographical Material
Series 2: Staten Island
Series 3: Correspondence
Series 4: Nature Prints
Series 5: Illustrations
Series 6: Topographic Maps
Series 7: Annual Reports of the Paleobotanist
Series 8: Manuscripts
Series 9: Alaska Expedition
Series 10: Photographs
Series 11: Literature File
Series 12: Type and Figure Files
Subseries A: Type File
Subseries B: Figure File

Series 1     Biographical Materials, 1901-1933
                  1 folder

These materials include a memoir of Hollick's experiences in the Torrey Botanical Club, a newspaper interview on prehistoric fossils of Manhattan, a program for a talk Hollick gave in Pittsburgh and, N. L. Britton's memoir of Hollick. Portrait photographs of Dr. Hollick are contained in Series 10 : Photographs.

Series 2     Staten Island, 1883-1979
                  2 folders.  Arranged by subject.

This series contains correspondence from the Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences transmitting a container list of materials held by them pertaining to the "Flora of Staten Island" by Hollick and Britton and material pertinent to the flora of Staten Island by other Garden faculty members. Also in this series are Arbor Day addresses delivered by Hollick in Staten Island, and material written while he was Curator-in-Chief at the Staten Island Museum. Reports by Hollick on oil refineries near Kill Von Kull and the sewage system invented by George E. Waring and installed on Staten Island are reminders of his 10 years with the Sanitation Department of New York City. A photograph of N. L. Britton and Hollick "Botanizing on Staten Island" is located in Series 10: Photographs. Hollick's field notes dating from 1896 have been removed and are located in the Collectors' Field Notebook series.

Series 3     Correspondence, 1875-1933
                   10 lin. in. Arranged alphabetically and chronologically.

This series contains letters transmitting determinations, loans, and receipts for paleobotanic materials sent to the Garden during Dr. Hollick's tenure. Other correspondence relates to Dr. Hollick's research. Particularly notable in this series is Hollick's 25-year correspondence with E. C. Jeffrey of the Phanerogamic Botany Laboratory at Harvard. Together they investigated the Cretaceous flora of Staten Island, New Jersey, and Martha's Vineyard. Hollick's field notes for these studies are located in the Collector's Field Notebook Collection.

Correspondence from the United States Geologic Survey contains the records of Dr. Hollick's appointments. Other correspondence with the USGS is filed alphabetically under the individual correspondent. See especially Hollick's correspondence with Knowleton.

Correspondence with the Merriam Co., in the M folder, contains Hollick's revisions on paleobotanical terms for Webster's Dictionary, 1927.

Correspondence with Charlotte H. Schmidt transmits the "List of Fossil Plant Genera and Living Plants Found Fossil" compiled by her and reviewed by Hollick in 1919. The list itself is located in Series 8: Manuscripts.

Correspondence related to Hollick's Alaska Expedition is located in Series 9: Alaska Expedition. One manuscript found in Series 3: Correspondence is "Glacial Reliefs South of and In the Last Moraine," located in the Botanical Society of America folder.

Series 4     Nature Prints, n.d.
                   10.5 lin. in. Arranged by subject.

This series consists of monoprints in ink of leaves of contemporary trees and grasses, which have been cut out and pasted on cardboard with their species name handwritten in ink to form a reference file.

Series 5     Illustrations, 1876-1930
                   6.5 lin. in. Arranged by subject.

This series consists of lithographs, line drawings, and photographs. All of them are illustrations which accompany published contributions, although the exact titles are not always specified. Among the more interesting are what appear to be the original plates from Leo Lesquereux's work on Fossil Flora of the Western Territories for the USGS (1878 & 1883). It is possible that Hollick did the drawings. Other illustrations are an extensive group of line drawings illustrating Liriodendra. Photographs from his work and that of others, especially Upper Cretaceous Flora of Alaska are here--cut up, pasted onto cards, and organized into a reference file. Oversized illustrations are located in Box 5.

Series 6     Topographic Maps, n.d.-1911
                   2 folders. Arranged by subject.

This series contains a group of index maps extending across the United States that were published by the USGS. From these indexes, one would select details by number and order them. In this series is an original ink-on-linen topographic map of San Juancito, Honduras by E. C. Fialos, C. E. Hollick never worked in Honduras. Also included in this series is a list of maps of specific areas in the United States requested by Hollick and purchased in 1911.

Series 7     Annual Reports of the Paleobotanist, 1911-1933
                   1 folder.  Arranged chronologically.

Typewritten reports, handwritten notes, and index cards recording the annual activities of the Paleobotanist  from 1921 to 1933 can be found in this series. An index card file documenting the year 1930 in terms of library and museum acquisitions, Garden publications, lectures and conferences, and personal and professional activities on individual cards is found in Box 10.

Series 8     Manuscripts, 1879-1931
                   4 lin. in. Arranged chronologically.

This series contains manuscripts written by Hollick or sent to him. Here is located the original manuscript for Flora of Staten Island (1879) by Britton and Hollick. The folder for Newberry's Flora of the Amboy Clays contains page proofs and a list of the locations of the specimens illustrated in it. Also in this series is a scrapbook containing correspondence and proofs for Hollick's article for the New International Encyclopedia (1903) and a list of fossil plant genera and living plants found in Fossil, prepared for him by Charlotte H. Schmidt of the USGS in 1919. Another scrapbook dedicated to the Story of the Bartram Oak, published in 1919 in Scientific American, is in Box 5. The bibliography folder contains citations in Hollick's own handwriting for articles he wrote.

Series 9     Alaska Expedition, 1903-1932
                   5 lin. in. Arranged by subject.

Hollick's field trip to Alaska yielded material that was to occupy him for the rest of his life. Primarily, this series contains correspondence between Hollick and the USGS concerning progress on the publication of his findings. The list of specimens he collected is here. Hollick's field notebooks for this expedition are located with the USGS Mineral Resources Surveys, Alaska Section, Anchorage, AK. Photographs by Sidney Paige, a USGS colleague, documenting this remarkable expedition are found in Series 10: Photographs.

Series 10     Photographs, 1879-1928
                    0.5 lin. in. Arranged chronologically.

Sidney Paige's photographs are in chronological order, prepared from a numerical list of 102 subjects. That list is included in this series. Scenes of great historical value featured here include gold miners, Indian life, scenic views of Nome and other places in Alaska, as well as the geological and paleobotanical features. Also in this series are portrait photographs of Hollick, and specimen photographs include Glyphomitrium Cockerlleae, discovered by Elizabeth Britton and Hollick.

Series 11     Literature File
                     3.9 lin. ft. Arranged alphabetically by author.

This series consists of a bibliography on paleobotanical topics on index cards. The authors and the material represented here precedes professional literature indexes.

Series 12     Type and Figure Files
                     7 lin. in. Arranged alphabetically by subject.

Two distinct files. One is organized by type specimen described by Hollick. The other is an index of illustrations of specimens. Almost all of the types are named for figures prominent in the early history of The New York Botanical Garden. The type specimens file is alphabetized by blue index cards. The figured specimens file is alphabetized by orange index cards.


The New York Botanical Garden
RG4  Herman F. Becker Records
RG4  Nathaniel Lord Britton Records

United States Geological Survey
Mineral Resources Survey, Alaska Section, Anchorage
Field Records Library, Denver, Co.
Photo Library, Denver, Co.

National Archives, Washington, D.C.
USGS Reclamation Service Records

Yale University, Peabody Museum of Natural History
The New York Botanical Garden Paleobotanical Collection

Smithsonian Institution Archives
Lester Frank Ward Papers

Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences
Charles Arthur Hollick Papers

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

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