Harold St. John Papers, 1912-1957  PDF  XML

Overview of the Collection

Creator
St. John, Harold.
Title
Harold St. John Papers
Dates
1912-1957 (inclusive)
Quantity
2.5 Linear feet of shelf space, (5 Boxes), (4600 Items)
Collection Number
Cage 319 (collection)
Summary
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.
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 and available for research use.

Additional Reference Guides

Northwest Botanical Manuscripts : an Indexed Register of the Papers, 1867-1957, of Wilhelm Nikolaus Suksdorf, William Conklin Cusick, Charles Vancouver Piper, Rolla Kent Beattie, and Harold St. John in the Washington State University Library. Washington State University; 1976.

Languages
English


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. 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. 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. Other topics include the teaching of botany and the administration of herbariums at Washington State University and the University of Hawaii. A few notes are included with the papers.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Copyright restrictions may apply.

Preferred Citation

[Item description]

Harold St. John Papers, 1912-1957 (Cage 319)

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman, WA.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Arrangement

The papers are arranged with the correspondence in a chronological sequence, and notes separated into a short second series.

Custodial History

The papers of Harold St. John were donated to the Washington State University Herbarium in 1958 by Dr. St. John.

Acquisition Information

The papers, along with those of four other Pacific Northwest botanists, were transferred to the Washington State Library in 1975 by the Marion Ownbey Herbarium of Washington State University.

Related Materials

Northwest Botanical Manuscripts : an Indexed Register of the Papers, 1867-1957, of Wilhelm Nikolaus Suksdorf, William Conklin Cusick, Charles Vancouver Piper, Rolla Kent Beattie, and Harold St. John in the Washington State University Library. Washington State University; 1976.

Washington State University Botanical Papers, 1881-1973 (Cage 53)

Wilhelm Nikolaus Suksdorf Papers, 1867-1935 (Cage 315)

William Conklin Cusick Papers, 1906-1924 (Cage 316)

Charles Vancouver Piper Papers, 1888-1926 (Cage 317)

Rolla Kent Beattie Papers, 1899-1956 (Cage 318)


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

CorrespondenceReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 1
30 items
1912-1920
1 2
200 items
1921
1 3
200 items
1922
1 4
210 items
1923
1 5
210 items
1924
2 6
285 items
1925
2 7
200 items
1926
2 8
220 items
1927 Jan-June
2 9
240 items
1927 July-Dec
3 10
200 items
1928 Jan-Mar
3 11
250 items
1928 Apr-June
3 12
250 items
1928 July-Sept
3 13
230 items
1928 Oct-Dec
3 14
290 items
1929 Jan-June
4 15
200 items
1929 July-Dec
4 16
300 items
1930
4 17
230 items
1931
4 18
125 items
1933-1935
4 19
125 items
1933-1935
5 20
150 items
1935-1936
5 21
130 items
1937
5 22
120 items
1938-1939
5 23
160 items
1940-1943
5 24
130 items
1944-1957
Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
5 25
Notes
50 items
circa 1920-1930

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Botanists -- United States -- Correspondence.
  • Botany -- Research -- Northwest, Pacific.
  • Plants -- Classification -- Research -- Northwest, Pacific.
  • Taxonomists -- United States -- Correspondence.

Personal Names

  • Beattie, R. Kent (Rolla Kent), 1875-1960.
  • 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 -- Archives.
  • Suksdorf, Wilhelm, 1850-1932.

Corporate Names

  • Marion Ownbey Herbarium.
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa. Joseph F. Rock Herbarium.