Harold St. John Papers, 1912-1957 PDF
- St. John, Harold
- Harold St. John Papers
- 1912-1957 (inclusive)19121957
- 5 containers., (2.5 linear feet of shelf space.), (4600 items.)
- Collection Number
- Cage 319
- Correspondence, notes, and other papers regarding taxonomic studies of Pacific Northwest plants, the teaching of botany and the administration of herbariums at Washington State University and the University of Hawaii. Significant correspondents include: R.K. Beattie, F.V. Coville, Alice Eastwood, Aven Nelson, C.V. Piper, B.L. Robinson, C.P. Smith, and W.N. Suksdorf.
- Washington State University Libraries, Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections.
Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections
Terrell Library Suite 12
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use.
- Additional Reference Guides
Northwest Botanical Manuscripts: An Indexed Register of the Papers, 1867-1957, of William Nikolaus Suksdorf, William Conklin Cusick, Charles Vancouver Piper, Rolla Kent Beattie, and Harold St. John. Pullman: Washington State University, 1976. This guide includes a detailed correspondence index. A PDF version is available in the WSU Research Exchange.
- Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Biographical NoteReturn to Top
Harold St. John was born in 1895 and attended Harvard University, graduating in 1914. Graduate education, work with a Canadian botanical survey and service in the United States army occupied him until 1920, when he received the Ph. D. from Harvard and accepted a teaching position at the State College of Washington, now Washington State University.
St. John had been a student of Merritt L. Fernald and Benjamin Robinson, the successors of Asa Gray at Harvard and the leaders of the International Rule school among American botanists. His early experience also placed considerable emphasis on field botany. Not surprisingly he became close associated of Wilhelm Suksdorf, of whom he wrote a biography.
In conjunction with such Washington botanists as Suksdorf, he began planning for a revised survey of the state’s plants in the early 1920s. Originally he had intended to produce an updated edition of Piper and Beattie’s Flora of Southeast Washington. Piper encouraged the project but died shortly after it began. St. John accordingly began to work on lines of his own, preparing a new work which ultimately appeared in 1936, by which time St. John had moved to a position at the University of Hawaii.
The 1936 Flora of Southeast Washington quickly became the standard field and herbarium guide to the vegetation of the inland Northwest and a later edition remains in wide use in the mid-1970s. The guide was characterized by what the author saw as a rigid application of the International Rule, although it also documents the extent to which the nomenclature dispute had been resolved by the mid-1930s. It also contains many references to regional and ecological variations among species, and other such ideas, which began to supersede the nomenclature dispute as one of the main development in botany. The impact of genetics, however, was little noted in the book.
As with R. Kent Beattie, St. John saw himself as a direct successor of C. V. Piper, although he took the opposite direction of Beattie in the nomenclature dispute. Consequently he remained more of a describer of an guide to plants than did Beattie who essentially became a botanical historian. As Piper’s successor, St. John was quite successful, being the most prominent certain amount of criticism for certain philosophic stands. His major failure occurred when the attempted to inspire a second generation Flora of Western Washington and could not induce anyone to complete it.
St. John remained at the University of Hawaii until retirement in 1958, after which he held various visiting assignments.
Content DescriptionReturn to Top
The papers of Harold St. John consist of his correspondence, both incoming and outgoing, relative to taxonomic studies of Northwest vegetation. The major portion dates from his years at Washington State University although a large number of items date from his years at the University of Hawaii and document his continued interest in Northwest botany. A few notes are included with the papers.
Use of the CollectionReturn to Top
[Item Description]. Cage 319, Harold St. John 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.
CorrespondenceReturn to Top
Names and SubjectsReturn to Top
- Subject Terms :
- Botany -- Research -- Northwest, Pacific
- Personal Names :
- Beattie, R. Kent (Rolla Kent), b. 1875
- Coville, Frederick V. (Frederick Vernon), 1867-1937
- Eastwood, Alice, 1859-1953
- Nelson, Aven, 1859-1952
- Piper, Charles V. (Charles Vancouver), 1867-1926
- Robinson, Benjamin Lincoln, 1864-1935
- Smith, Charles Piper, 1877-
- St. John, Harold, 1892- --Archives (creator)
- Suksdorf, Wilhelm, 1850-1932
- Occupations :
- Botanists -- United States -- Correspondence