Francis Marion Ownbey Papers, 1934-1974  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Ownbey, Francis Marion
Title
Francis Marion Ownbey Papers
Dates
1934-1974 (inclusive)
Quantity
35 containers., (17.5 linear feet of shelf space.), (11,000 items.)
Collection Number
Cage 320
Summary
18 ft. Summary Correspondence, research notes and drafts relative to taxonomic and genetic research, especially of the genera Allium, Calochortus and Tragopogon. A large portion of the papers are concerned with Ownbey's observations of the genetic behavior of the species of Tragopogon, and his discovery of the apparent evolution of new species under natural conditions through the mechanism of chromosomal doubling. Significant correspondents include: Edgar Anderson, Lincoln Constance, Arthur Cronquist, Charles Heisen, C. Leo Hitchcock, Phillip Munz, Gerald Ownbey, and G. Ledyard Stebbins, Jr.
Repository
Washington State University Libraries, Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections.
Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections
Terrell Library Suite 12
Pullman WA
99164-5610
Telephone: 509-335-6691
mascref@wsu.edu
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Additional Reference Guides

A print index to the correspondence in Series one exists as WSU MASC.

Languages
English
Sponsor
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

A native of Missouri, Marion Ownbey was one of three twentieth century Ownbeys associated with plant taxonomy, the others being his brother Gerald Ownbey and his wife Ruth Peck Ownbey. His botanical education began at the University of Wyoming and its Rocky Mountain Herbarium and continued at Washington University in St. Louis and the associated Missouri Botanical Garden. Major influences on the early parts of his education were Aven Nelson and J. M. Greenman, two older taxonomists whose methods stressed close study of the details of plants, especially of dried specimens, and careful and precise organization of the knowledge of those plants. Their approach had been especially useful in criticising and revising the original description of North American flora, a development in which both had also participated. Though their approach was similar to that long used by botanists, it tried the patience of many, who could see no relation between modern science and the dried plant collections of the "haymaker" botanists, as they were derisively called. Moreover, their field had been much vexed by a troublesome and perhaps needless debate over the rules of botanical nomenclature. Nevertheless, by the 1920s and 1930s American taxonomists had essentially completed a catalog of North American plants and were well into a cycle of critical revision. This revisionary cycle consisted largely of a long sequence of "monographed genera." By the 1920s, this expression had come to mean the extensive and comprehensive examination of all literature and herbarium specimens of particular genera, resulting in lengthy and exhaustive monographic publications, then considered the mark of competence as a plant taxonomist. In this milieu, Ownbey began his career as a botanist. Not surprisingly he began with an attempt to study and revise Castellija, an extensive and complex genus which other taxonomists had worked with for years without producing a definitive statement.

Ownbey encountered difficulties with his effort to become the authoritative specialist on Castellija, and not until much later in his life did he complete his Castellija project. Yet it was not simply problems with this genus which marked his early career, but problems with the whole approach of plant taxonomy, and the influence of a newer means for approaching this science. This influence had come into the Missouri Botanical Garden in the person of Edgar Anderson, a geneticist who had, as he put it, invaded the field of plant taxonomy in search of an explanation of the mechanisms of the evolution of species. Anderson appeared to offer a newer philosophy for taxonomy, a field which seemed to be in need of such. He called for a combination of genetics, cytology and taxonomy, with a considerable influence of such diverse fields as paleontology, archaeology, anthropology and history also represented in his approach. Anderson's approach tended to stress common weeds and agronomic plants typified by the common road-side plants of the genus Tradeseantia. (See Edgar Anderson, Plants, Men and Life (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1952) 16-30.) Ownbey may even have assisted briefly in the famous Tradeseantia project.

Anderson's influence also appeared in Ownbey's adoption of the genus Calochortus as his primary field of investigation, for this genus featured many examples of the hybridizations and combinations of genetic materials which Anderson stressed. Calochortus, accordingly, became a life-long interest. A similar generic revision was added to Ownbey investigations in the early 1940s, shortly after he had become a botany instructor and herbarium curator at Washington State University. The second project concerned the genus Allium, a diverse genus containing both natural and domestic species and again much characterized by various hybridizations. Done in conjunction with a WSU cytologist, Hannah Aase, the Allium project combined traditional methods of plant description with root-tip chromosome counts and garden experiments. It resulted in a number of papers which constituted definitive revision of the North American species of this genus. In addition to these two projects, Ownbey began work on a general Flora of the Pacific Northwest with another Missouri Botanical Garden alumnus, C. Leo Hitchcock, who by the 1940s was at the University of Washington. Ownbey also participated briefly in a war-time botanical expedition seeking pharmaceutical plants in Ecuador.

Had Ownbey continued as he started he would have been known principally as someone who had revised hybridization-prone genera and as a contributor to a regional Flora. However, an almost accidental observation in the late 1940s took his career into a considerably different direction and into the project with which he became identified in his profession. This project concerned the genus Tragopogon, an introduced plant of the American West, some varieties of which had been used as a garden vegetable. This genus was prone to hybridization and Ownbey observed it informally for several years. He first commented on it in 1946 in a letter to geneticist Charles Hieser. But not until early June of 1949 did he make the discovery that he had observed the natural evolution of new species of Tragopogon occurring in his back yard. The first known observation of a species evolving in nature, Ownbey's Tragopogon study indicated that a chromosomal doubling had occurred without human intervention and an apparently stable species had appeared. His description to a colleague carried his sense of excitement about the discovery of the polyploid Tragopogon species:

"I have been having an exciting time this spring studying the origins of species in Tragopogon through natural hybridization and amphiploidy. We have three introduced species in the Palouse area which hybridize readily whenever any two grow together. The three Fl hybrids are highly sterile but give rise on occasion to three possible amphiploid. I have been observing the Fl hybrids between the two species for several years. This spring I found their amphidiploid and with this lead worked out the rest of the story. It is easily the most spectacular case that has yet been discovered. This would apply to the first case let alone its triplication." (Ownbey to Phillip Munz, June 28, 1949)

An informal paper on the genetic behavior of Tragopogon presented these observations in the spring of 1949. The following year a more formal presentation appeared in the American journal of Botany, at which time Ownbey assigned names and published description of the two newly-evolved species of Tragopogon. Despite the publication of the species, Ownbey felt a degree of reservation about his findings. In later publications he expressed caution about the validity of the new species, although he continued to list them. Such, for example, was his practice in Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest, the regional Flora produced in cooperation with his associate Hitchcock and another collaborator, Arthur Cronquist, who joined in the project in the late 1940s.

Tragopogon tended to dominate the rest of Ownbey's botanical career. His initial article of the subject quickly proved to be a classic. More writing on the subject followed closely. Then in 1954, the investigation of further phases of Tragopogon won Ownbey a Guggenheim fellowship. The fellowship enabled Ownbey to spend a year in Europe examining historical Tragopogon specimens, as well as affording time to observe some species in their native area of the Balkan peninsula. It also enabled him to establish contact with Russian, Bulgarian and Turkish botanists, who offered to find specimens of the varieties of Tragopogon found in remote areas, principally within the Soviet Union.

Ownbey returned to the United States with much information about Tragopogon, though not enough to complete a global generic survey. For several years he sought to acquire the Asian species necessary to the task, but only over a long period of time did some material become available. Even the Russian correspondents had difficulty acquiring materials, as many of the species existed in remote areas of the Caucasus and Asiatic Russia, and, possibly, they had been discouraged from cooperation with a western geneticist. Consequently Ownbey's work with Tragopogon tended to take a more specialized approach. His greenhouse and garden plantings, accordingly, came to be used by himself and a succession of graduate students as materials for examination of very specific questions about genetic mechanisms.

In the later 1950s, Ownbey partly turned his attention from the Tragopogon project to production of Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest. Although this five-volume work came to be more the project of Hitchcock and Cronquist, two more traditional taxonomists, Ownbey's genetic insights had an influence. Working in close association with Cronquist, who was located in New York City, Ownbey proved he could also work in traditional manners. This approach also appeared in his contribution of the section on the genus Castellija, in which he "monographed" the genus with Greenmanian thoroughness.

Through the 1950s and 1960s, a constant series of small matters concerning Allium and Calochortus had been in the background of the more spectacular Tragopogon project and the regional flora. Also, Ownbey had been administering the University herbarium during all this time, as well as teaching classes in botany. By the later 1960s the herbarium and his teaching duties began to occupy greater portions of his time, and his research activity slackened. He died in December 1974 at the age of 64. Shortly afterward, the University herbarium was named the Marion Ownbey Herbarium as a tribute to him.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Marion Ownbey's papers consist of correspondence, research materials, drafts of writings, and field notes, all relating to his activities as a plant taxonomist and geneticist. The correspondence contains many extensive personal reflections on problems of plant taxonomy, on the revision of the genera Allium, Calochortus and Castellija, and on his classic observations of the genetic behavior of the genus Tragopogon. Research notes on all of these projects provide complementary documentation. Ownbey's papers also contain materials relative to herbarium administration, composition of Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest, and matters involving teaching and research at Washington State University.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Preferred Citation

[Item Description]. Cage 320, Francis Marion Ownbey Papers. Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman, WA.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Series 1: General Correspondence, 1935-1974Return to Top

8000 items.
Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 1
1935-1938
1 2
1939
1 3
Jan-May 1940
1 4
June-Dec 1940
1 5
Jan-Mar 1941
1 6
Apr-Aug 1941
1 7
Sept-Dec 1941
2 8
Jan-Mar 1942
2 9
Apr-July 1942
2 10
Aug-Dec 1942
2 11
Jan-Mar 1943
2 12
Apr-July 1943
2 13
Aug-Dec 1943
2 14
July-Sept 1944
2 16
Oct-Dec 1944
3 17
Jan-Mar 1945
3 18
Apr-June 1945
3 19
July-Oct 1945
3 20
Nov-Dec 1945
3 21
Jan-Mar 1946
3 22
Apr-Aug 1946
3 23
Sept-Dec 1946
4 24
Jan-Apr 1947
4 25
May-July 1947
4 26
Aug-Dec 1947
4 27
Jan-Mar 1948
4 28
Apr-June 1948
4 29
July-Sept 1948
4 30
Oct-Dec 1948
4 31
Jan-Mar 1949
4 32
Apr-June 1949
5 33
July-Sept 1949
5 34
Oct-Dec 1949
5 35
Jan-Mar 1950
5 36
Apr-June 1950
5 37
July-Sept 1950
5 38
Oct-Dec 1950
5 39
Jan-Apr 1951
5 40
May-June 1951
6 41
July-Sept 1951
6 42
Oct-Dec 1951
6 43
Jan-June 1952
6 44
July-Dec 1952
6 45
Jan-Mar 1953
6 46
Apr-June 1953
6 47
July-Sept 1953
6 48
Oct-Dec 1953
7 49
Jan-Apr 1954
7 50
May-Dec 1954
7 51
Jan-Sept 1955
7 52
Oct-Dec 1955
7 53
Jan-Mar 1956
7 54
Apr-June 1956
7 55
July-Sept 1956
7 56
Oct-Dec 1956
8 57
Jan-Mar 1957
8 58
Apr-Sept 1957
8 59
Oct-Dec 1957
8 60
Jan-Mar 1958
8 61
Apr-May 1958
8 62
June-Sept 1958
8 63
Oct-Dec 1958
8 64
Jan-Mar 1959
8 65
Apr-Sept 1959
8 66
Oct-Dec 1959
9 67
Jan-May 1960
9 68
June-Dec 1960
9 69
Jan-June 1961
9 70
July-Dec 1961
9 71
Jan-June 1962
9 72
July-Dec 1962
9 73
Jan-June 1963
9 74
July-Dec 1963
10 75
Jan-June 1964
10 76
July-Dec 1964
10 77
Jan-Aug 1965
10 78
Sept-Dec 1965
10 79
Jan-June 1966
10 80
July-Dec 1966
10 81
Jan-June 1967
10 82
July-Dec 1967
11 83
1968
11 84
1969
11 85
1970
11 86
1971
11 87
1972
11 88
1973
11 89
1974
11 90
enclosures
undated
12 91
Herbarium correspondence of Sherman Preece and Gwendolyn Wild
175 items.
1954-1955
12 92
University of Washington Press, business forms and related documents
30 items.
1962-1973

Series 2: Research ActivitiesReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
12 93
Research Reports to University Research Committee
150 items.
1951-1966
12 94
Notes and fragments relative to research projects
60 items.
1940-ca. 1960
12 95
Reprints of Ownbey's articles.
25 items.
12 96
Early, unpublished and preliminary papers, oral presentations
15 items.
1938-1965
Field Notebooks
Specimen Numbers
Box Folder
13 97
28-227
1934
13 98
228-403
1934
13 99
404-494
1934
13 100
494-1012
1935
13 101
1013-1181
1936
13 102
1251-1578
1937
13 103
1601-1939
1938-1940
13 104
2001-2377
1940
13 105
2378-2518
1941
13 106
2520-3091
1942
13 107
3092-3367
1947-1952
13 108
3368-3503
1953-1969
13 109
Ecuadorian Journal and Collection Notes
1943-1944
13 110
Chelan County, 1-153
1947
13 111
Journal
1940
Garden Books-Heald/Science Gardens
Box Folder
14 112
1948
14 113
1949
14 114
1958
14 115
1959
14 115b
Garden
1964
Minor Studies
Box Folder
14 116
Dicentra.
12 items.
14 117
Balsomorhiza.
10 items.
14 118
Liliaceae of Washington.
5 items.
14 119
Disporum maculatum.
5 items.
15 120
Gaillardia.
5 items.
15 121
Castellija of Idaho.
3 items.
15 122-23
Castellija of the Pacific Northwest.
7 items.
15 124
Survey of Genus Castellija.
125 items.
15 125
Polygonatum and Fritillaria.
10 items.
Calochortus
Box Folder
16 126
Collection record book
16 127-29
Planting record book
17 130-34
Planting record book
17 135
Hybrids
17 136
Calochortus of the Pacific Northwest.
52 items.
17 137
Cytological notes and drawings
17 138
Miscellaneous notes on Calochortus.
10 items.
Allium
Box Folder
18 139-40
Collection and accession record book.
5 items.
18 141-44
Garden record books.
4 items.
18 145
Record of crosses.
1 item.
19 146
Allium keys
19 147
A. aaseae
19 148
A. acuminatum
19 149
A. amplectens
19 150
A. anceps
19 151
A. brevistylum
19 152
A. brandegei
19 153
A. cernum
19 154
A. crenulatum
19 155
A. douglasii
19 156
A. elmendorfii
19 157
A. glandorum
19 158
A. gooddingii
19 159
A. fibrillum
19 160
A. hyalinum
19 161
A. kunthi
19 162
A. lemmoni
19 163
A. madidum
19 164
A. parvum
19 165
A. peninsularare
19 166
A. platycanle
19 167
A. schoenoprasm
19 168
A. simillimum
19 169
A. stellatum
19 170
A. tricoccum
19 171
A. tolmiei
19 172
A. validum
19 173
Miscellaneous
19 174
Allium chromosomes
20 175
Aeuminatum alliance
20 176
Campanulatum (bisceptrum) alliance
20 177-79
Canadense alliance
20 180
Sanbornii alliance
20 181
Obtusum alliance
21 182
Allium of the Pacific Northwest
21 183
Allium of Arizona
21 184
Allium of Idaho
21 185-86
Allium of Texas
Tragopogon
Box Folder
22 187
Tragopogon accessions list
22 188-89
Notes on the genus Tragopogon
22 190
Record book of specimens observed at Kew, Vienna, Firenze and Paris
22 191
Record book of specimens observed at De Candolle Herbarium, Bossier Herbarium and the British Museum
22 192
Record book of specimens observed at Geneva
Observation Notebooks
Box Folder
22 193
notes
1949
23 194
Fl
1950-1951
23 195
F2
1952
Garden Books
Box Folder
23 196
1950-1951
23 197
1951-1952
23 198
I
1953
23 199
II
1953
23 200
1954
23 201
1955-1956
23 202
1957
23 203
1958
23 204
1959
23 205
1960
23 206
1961
23 207
1962
24 208
1963
24 209
1964
24 210
1965
24 211
1966
24 212
1968
24 213
1969
24 214
1972
Greenhouse Books
Box Folder
24 215
1953
24 216
1955
24 217
1956-1957
24 218
1958-1959
24 219
1960-1961
24 220
1962-1967
24 221
1967-1972
25 222
Seed Record Book
1956-1965
Seed Fertility Count Books
Box Folder
25 223
1952-1953
25 224
1953
25 225
1954
25 226
1956-1958
25 227
1959-1960
25 228
1962-1963
25 229
1964-1965
Box Folder
25 230-31
Fertility Summary Data Book
25 232
Pollen Count Book
1957
25 233
Pollen Count Book
1958-1959
25 234
Laboratory Record Book
1953
25 235
Fixing, Sectioning, Staining Record Book
1955
25 236
Summary and Analysis Book
1953-1954
25 237-38
"14" (see No. 215)
26 239
T. dubius hybrids, notebook
26 240
T. porrifolius, notebook
26 241
T. orientalis, notebook
26 242-43
T. pratensis hybrids I, notebooks
26 244-47
S-I species, notebooks
1963-1964
26 248-50
Sinnatus Complex, notebooks
1960
27 251
Meiosis
27 252
Mitosis, notebook
1951
27 253
Mitosis, Tragopogon hybrids, notebook
1951
27 254
Mitosis, notebook
1951-1952
27 255
Mitosis, notebook
1965
27 256-57
Miscellaneous notes on Tragopogon
200 items.
1950-1960
28 258
Tragopogon Summary Sheets.
50 items.
29 259
Tragopogon Summary Sheets.
50 items.
30 260-61
Drafts of Tragopogon Articles
10 items.
1950-1963
30 262
Photographs
12 items.
1949-1960
30 263
Research support
50 items.
1950-1965
30 264
Tragopogon materials of Bert Brehm
30 items.
1965-1968
30 264b
Tragopogon material of Ray Hoff

Series 3: University Faculty and Teaching MaterialsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
31 265-76
Botany 541, Evolution. Course notes
300 items.
1968-1973
32 277-82
Evolutionary Mechanisms, Seminar Papers
6 items.
1973
32 283
Entomology/Zoology 511, Principles of Systematic Biology. Syllabus and Notes
3 items.
1972
32 284
Cytogenetics. Notes
50 items.
1950-1954
32 285
Graduate Student Recruitment; Financial Aid
100 items.
1955-1970
32 286
Field Trip
3 items.
1941
32 287
Botany Department Staff, memoranda and minutes
150 items.
1967-1974
33 288
Botany Facilities: Buildings, Greenhouse, Arboretum
125 items.
1962-1972
33 289
Field Area (Smoot Hill) Memoranda and Minutes of Planning Committee
125 items.
1967-1971
33 290
Library Matters
150 items.
1951-1969
34 291-292
Search Committee for Botany Department Chairman, Correspondence, Memoranda, Minutes
200 items.
1958-1969
34 293
Grant Funding
6 items.
1969-1973
National Science Foundation. Research Proposals
Box Folder
34 294-295
75 items.
1958-1974
35 296-297
75 items.
1958-1974
Addenda: Drafts of Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest Vol. II., by A. Cronquist and C. L. Hitchcock
Box
36
Salicaceae
36
Polygonaceae
36
Chenopodiaceae
36
Amaranthaceae
36
Portulacaceae
36
Caryophyllaceae
36
Ranunculaceae
Box
36
Misc. correspondence

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Botany -- Classification
  • Genetics -- Research
  • Personal Names :
  • Ownbey, Francis Marion, 1910- --Archives (creator)
  • Anderson, Edgar, 1897-
  • Constance, Lincoln, 1909-
  • Cronquist, Arthur
  • Heiser, Charles Bixler, 1920-
  • Hitchcock, Charles Leo, 1902-
  • Munz, Philip A. (Philip Alexander), 1892-
  • Ownbey, Gerald B., 1916-
  • Occupations :
  • Botanists--United States--Correspondence