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0.5 linear feet (1 box)


Anna Murray Vail (1863-1955) was born 1863 in New York City. She was educated in Europe and later became a student of Nathaniel Lord Britton. In 1896 she donated her herbarium, which consisted of 3,000 specimens, mostly from the eastern United States, to The New York Botanical Garden. Vail was a member of the Torrey Botanical Club and was active in the movement to found The New York Botanical Garden. She studied the taxonomy of Leguminosae and Asclepiadaceae.

In 1900, she became the first librarian of The New York Botanical Garden, where she stayed until 1907. After resigning her post she went to France, where she lived through the two world wars. She was active in The American Fund for French Wounded (1915-1919) which was founded to further the relief efforts of American women during World War I.

While in France, she had acquired a house in Hericy and remained active in library work until her health failed her. By 1952 Anna Vail had become blind, and she died in 1955 at the age of 92.


The Anna Murray Vail Papers document the botanical career of Anna Vail, especially as it pertained to her research in the Asclepiadaceae and Leguminosae families. The collection contains some correspondence, research papers, and manuscripts. The field notebooks have been removed to the Collectors' Field Notebooks series.


Series 1: Correspondence
Series 2: Research Notes
Series 3: Field Notebooks

Series 1:     Correspondence
                    Arranged alphabetically.

The correspondence relates to botanical subjects.

Series 2:     Research Notes, n.d.
                    5 lin. in.  Arranged alphabetically.

Research Notes consists of some handwritten notes, typed data sheets, and carbon copies of species descriptions mainly in the Asclepiadaceae and Leguminosae families.

Series 3:     Field Notebooks, 1891-1897
                    2 lin. in. Arranged chronologically.

This collection contains a number of field notebooks from Anna Vail's collecting trips to Virginia, Vol. 222; Tyringham, Massachusetts, Vol. 294; and Tannersville and Greene County, New York, Vol. 629.


The New York Botanical Garden

RG6      Records of the Library

RG3      Records of the Director in Chief- N.L. Britton's administrative files

CFN     Numbers 222, 294, 629

The New York Public Library: Manuscripts and Archives Division

American Fund for the French Wounded, 1915-1919. Control No. NYPW93-A39.

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

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