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Edward Tuckerman Materials, ca. 1830-1890
.5 Linear feet
Collection number: MA.01028

The Edward Tuckerman Materials include a small group of documents ranging from items associated with some of botanist Edward Tuckerman's early schoolwork and interests to much later correspondence among his widow and colleagues about his botanical collections. The material includes correspondence, notebooks, photographs, and unique documents. Notable among the material are items associated with the Boston Phrenological Society.

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

There is no restriction on access to the Edward Tuckerman Materials for research use. Particularly fragile items may be restricted for preservation purposes.

Restrictions on use:

Requests for permission to publish material from the Edward Tuckerman Materials should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Amherst College Archives and Special Collections

Biographical Note

Edward Tuckerman, the eldest son of Edward Francis Tuckerman (1775-1843), a Boston merchant, and Sophia May Tuckerman(1784-1870) was born in Boston in 1817. After attending Ingraham’s School and the Boston Latin School, he attended Union College, from which he received a B.A. in 1837 and an M.A. in 1844. He also attended Harvard Law School and earned his L.L.B. in 1839. In 1841 he was still at Harvard, studying in the Divinity School. After a few years studying history, philosophy, and botany in Germany, he returned to Harvard where he joined the Class of 1846 to earn a A.B. (according to an obituary, out of "friendship for several members of [the senior] class"). His obituary records that he was "a scholar in the truest sense of the word." While it is true that the family's wealth allowed him to follow his interests, it is also true that he produced results of lasting quality. A local obituary records that he was also known for his charity, often ordering food and clothing to be delivered to local people in need, and for his almsgiving.

In 1854 Tuckerman married Sarah Eliza Sigourney Cushing, the daughter of Thomas Parkman Cushing (his father's business partner) and Martha Cargill Cushing, formerly of Virginia. In 1855 Tuckerman joined the faculty at Amherst College. Initially, he taught history; three years later he became a professor of botany. Severe hearing loss forced Tuckerman to abandon his classroom work for botanical research. Although no longer teaching in the classroom, Tuckerman was included in the Amherst College course catalogues until his death in 1886.

Tuckerman is probably best known as an authority on lichens -- it was in the course of his research on this topic that he found the famous ravine in the White Mountains that now carries his name. Tuckerman’s lichenological work is contained in many articles and books, but he also wrote widely on genealogy, biography, and theology. Another gift to Amherst College includes his early (1834-1841) columns for the "Churchman" that he wrote under the titles of "Notitia Literaria" and "Adversaria."

In the late 1850s the Tuckermans began to build Applestead, a large stone house surrounded by gardens where they lived, sometimes with their nieces and nephews, and where they entertained family and friends. In the first quarter of the 20th century the College converted Applestead into a fraternity and then tore it down in order to build the Cage, a decision that Tuckerman would not have admired. Photographs of the estate may be found in several collections in the Archives and Special Collections.

Tuckerman seems to have lived an increasingly secluded life as his hearing loss grew. He died on March 15, 1886.

Scope and Contents

The Edward Tuckerman Materials consist of .5 linear feet of material in 1 archives box. The materials include several notebooks from Edward Tuckerman's college years (he attended several institutions and received several degrees) and shortly thereafter, as well as materials dating from after his death. The latter materials include obituaries and correspondence regarding the distribution of some of his library and herbaria. The bulk of the material falls into the periods of 1831-1848 and 1886-1889.

The Edward Tuckerman Materials are arranged chronologically within one series.

Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

There is no restriction on access to the Edward Tuckerman Materials for research use. Particularly fragile items may be restricted for preservation purposes.

Restrictions on use:

Requests for permission to publish material from the Edward Tuckerman Materials should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection: [Identification of item], in the Edward Tuckerman Materials, Box 1, Folder [#], Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, Amherst College Library.

History of the Collection

The Edward Tuckerman Materials were a gift of David L. Andrews in 2015.

Additional Information
Contact Information
Amherst College Archives and Special Collections
Robert Frost Library
PO Box 5000
Amherst, MA 01002-5000

Phone: (413) 542-2299
Fax: (413) 542-2692

Email Reference Form:
Related Materials

For related material in the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, see also:

The Orton Loring and Margaret Tuckerman Clark Papers (MA.01029)

The Cushing-Tuckerman-Esty Family Papers (MA.00293)

The Edward Tuckerman Botanical Papers (MA.00043)

Catalogued Items

Enumeratio methodica Caricum quarundam. Species recensuit et secundum habitum pro viribus disponere tentavit. Edward Tuckerman. Schenectady, N.Y.: Isaac Riggs, 1843.

Act of incorporation, constitution, and by-laws of the Boston Society of Natural History. Boston : John H. Eastburn, printer, 1832. Includes one receipt for the initiation fee to the Boston Society of Natural History, signed by A. Binney (Nov. 20, 1833) and one printed announcement of Tuckerman's membership in the society from D. Humphreys Storer, both tipped in. There is also a laid-in manuscript letter to Tuckerman from D. Humphreys Storer appointing Tuckerman to a committee "to examine and report upon the Catalogue of Crustacea contained in the Survey of Prof. Hitchcock."

Contents List
Edward Tuckerman: botanical notebook
ca. 1831

Box 1: folder 1

Logbook bought from "Baker and Alexander's for 25 cents." After first 4-5 pages of botanical notes, the rest of the book is blank. In Latin and English.

"Capping lines abstracted from Publius V. Maro."
1832 Feb

Box 1: folder 2

Small tabbed notebook, with Tuckerman's note on cover: "Capping lines abstracted from Publius V. Maro [Virgil]. 'Labor omnia vicit improbus.' Edward Tuckerman, Jr., Feb. 1832. Witness my hand, Edward Tuckerman. Witness [G.?] Graves." Quotations [from Virgil] in Tuckerman's hand.

Boston Phrenological Society: 2 receipts and announcement of meeting, etc., signed by Nahum Capen, Secretary, and E. P. Clark, Treasurer.

Box 1: folder 3

Five items: One receipt for admission to society, one receipt for dues; one letter announcing Tuckerman's admission to the society; one circular announcing regarding the society's schedule for meetings, and one 3" x 2.25" card listing "Meetings of the Phrenological Society" (apparently enclosed with the circular). On verso of card Tuckerman wrote: "Vivat Ecclesia, Vivat Rex, Vivat Litterae, Vivat Phrenologia, E. Tuckerman Jr." All items 1834.

Edward Tuckerman: botanical notebook
1838 Sep -1843 Aug

Box 1: folder 4

Notebook purchased in 1834 for Union College work (per inscription in front) but not used until September, 1838. Approximately 16 pages of notes, the rest blank.

Annotated section of Edward Hitchcock's "Report on the Geology, Mineralogy, Botany and Zoology of Massachusetts"
ca. 1840

Box 1: folder 5

Tuckerman's annotations to pages 111-132 of Edward Hitchcock's 1833 edition of "Report on the Geology, Mineralogy, Botany and Zoology of Massachusetts." Annotations throughout, and additional notes [list of botanical publications] at end. May have been used by Tuckerman in a class.

Edward Tuckerman: notebook [of a botanical excursion]

Box 1: folder 6

Small leatherbound notebook containing approximately 26 pages of botanical notes. Most of the notes are crossed out, perhaps indicating that they were copied into another notebook. Last page contains a penned note: "Here ends the record of the summer of 1848. E.T. White Mountains, Oct. 9, 1848."

Edward Tuckerman: 3 photographs and 1 ink sketch
ca. 1855-1875

Box 1: folder 7

1 carte de visite ca. 1855-1860; two 20th-century copies of ca. 1870s photos; one ink sketch of ca. 1870s photo.

Obituaries and miscellaneous publications about Edward Tuckerman
1886; 1961; n.d.

Box 1: folder 8
Scope and content:

Newspaper obituaries; offprint from "Collected Lichenological Papers of Edward Tuckerman," Culberson, ed., 1961. Issue of "Leopoldina" (Nov. 1886) containing obituary. Two oversized sheets (a third missing) with list of lichens in New England, in the White Mountains, and in Massachusetts specifically, named or described by Tuckerman et al. Lichens are numbered from 1-50 on one sheet and 101-150 on another. Undated, but possibly connected with Tuckerman's article for the Boston Journal of Natural History, "An Enumeration of (Alpine and Other) Lichens of New England," 1838-39.

Custodial history:

Several of the newspaper obituaries have dates added in what appears to be the handwriting of Dr. Frederick Tuckerman, suggesting transmission from him to his daughter Margaret, and from her to her husband Orton Loring Clark, who probably donated them somewhere in the 1950s, perhaps along with the rest of the material in this collection. See Dr. Tuckerman's scrapbook in the Tuckerman-Clark Family Papers for similar materials.

Lichenologist Henry Willey to Sarah Tuckerman, with two from publisher and bookseller Bradlee Whidden

Box 1: folder 9
Scope and content:

15 letters to Sarah Tuckerman from lichenologist Henry Willey (lived 1824-1907), especially regarding the posthumous publication of volume 2 of Edward Tuckerman's "Synopsis of the North American Lichens." File includes two letters from Boston publisher and bookseller Bradlee Whidden -- one to Sarah Tuckerman, and one to Willey -- disputing aspects of the publication and asking for copies to bind up in a way to match volume 1, which he had published. Some of Willey's letters address Whidden's arguments. File includes reprinted article about Henry Willey from "the New Bedford Sunday Standard" (Jul, 1913).

Dates of letters from Willey to Tuckerman (except where noted)
  1. 1888 Jan 18
  2. 1888 Jan 29
  3. 1888 Feb 16
  4. 1888 Feb 27
  5. 1888 Mar 19
  6. 1888 Apr 12
  7. 1888 May 12
  8. 1888 Jun 9
  9. 1888 Aug 11
  10. 1888 Sep 1
  11. 1888 Oct 6 (Whidden to Willey)
  12. 1888 Oct 8
  13. 1888 Oct 15 (Whidden to Mrs. Tuckerman)
  14. 1888 Oct 16
  15. 1888 Nov 28
  16. 1889 Jan 9
  17. 1889 Feb 13
Custodial history:

The envelope accompanying the first of Willey's letters (dated Jan 18, 1888) bears a pencilled "For F. T." across the front. This notation is probably that of Sarah Tuckerman's nephew Robert Pegram Esty, who sorted Sarah's correspondence after her death and returned Tuckerman-related materials to Dr. Frederick Tuckerman, Edward's nephew. All the envelopes also bear Sarah Tuckerman's notation of writer and date received, a practice she followed for the bulk of her correspondence across many decades.

William Gilson Farlow to Sarah Tuckerman
1889 May-Nov

Box 1: folder 10

Five notes from W.G. Farlow (botanist William Gilson Farlow of Harvard) arranging for the gift of the late Edward Tuckerman's herbarium to Harvard University. The gift was delayed on account of the new building that was to contain the herbarium.

Benjamin L. Robinson to Sarah Tuckerman

Box 1: folder 11

4 letters: First page of a letter on letterhead from the "Rooms of the Essex Institute" dated April 20, 1899 to Mary A. Day responding to Day's inquiry about a letter dated January 7, 1880, from Edward Tuckerman to John Robinson regarding manuscripts of Manasseh Cutler and Tuckerman's ultimate plans for them. Three letters follow from Benjamin L. Robinson of the Gray Herbarium at Harvard University, the first inquiring about the Cutler materials (and enclosing the letter to Day); the second formally acknowledging their receipt at Harvard, including a list of the gift's contents: "12 manuscript books by Cutler, 2 letters, 1 list of plants," and an accompanying third letter elaborating on Robinson's thanks.

Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

  • Tuckerman, Edward, 1817-1886

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