Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation

Archives Collections List

William Andrew Archer (1894–1973)

Economic botanist

Papers, ca.1906–[1929–1964]–1972;
oral history, one reel; no transcript

HI Archives collection no. 3
16 boxes, 4 volumes shelved, oral history cabinet

Archer, William Andrew
Date: 30 August 1956 (at age 56)
HI Archives portrait no. 5

Biographical and content notes
William Andrew Archer (1894–1973) was a taxonomist, economic botanist, ethnobotanist, plant explorer, and herbarium manager. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence, reports, and printed and mimeographed material (ca.1906–[1929–1964]) concerning the agricultural economy of Latin America and Archer’s work as head botanist and plant pathologist (1929–1931) at the Escuela de Agricultura, Medellín, Colombia; at the botany section (1942–1946) of the Instituto Agronomico do Norte, Belem, Pará, Brazil; and as custodian (1938–1947) and curator (1947–1964) of the National Arboretum Herbarium.*

Much of this collection concerns work Archer directed (1937–1942) in cooperation with the University of Nevada and the Works Progress Administration on a survey of Native American medicinal plants in Nevada and on Contributions toward a Flora of Nevada and renewed work (1952–1960) on the Contributions. Four volumes of handwritten and annotated typescript notes made from interviews with Nevada tribes concerning medicinal uses of plants are included: Volume I covers the year 1937, Volume II 1937–1939, and Volume III 1939–1940. The data in these three volumes are summarized in Train, Henrichs, and Archer, “Medicinal Uses of Plants by Indian Tribes of Nevada,” Contributions 33 (1 December 1941) and Rev. Ed. 45 (26 November 1957). Volume IV contains “Combined Medicinal Plant Reports of 1937–1940 Arranged According to Scientific Names and Reports” (used as worksheets for Contributions 33). The interviewers were E. V. A. Murphey, Archer, Tim Breene, Harry Sampson, W. D. Parks, O. C. Stewart, and Agnes and Percy Train. The volumes also include data and correspondence concerning the Native American informants and the cooperative work of the University of Nevada–Nevada State WPA Project, the Division, and the University of Minnesota, respectively, in collecting the plants and folklore, codifying the data and identifying the plant material, and carrying out chemical and pharmaceutical studies into their medical efficacy. In addition, among these Nevada study papers are manuscripts (1954–1957) and mimeographed copies (1940–1941) of various Contributions.

This collection also contains papers relating to Archer’s explorations for plants. There is a small amount of correspondence concerning his explorations (1931–1934) in the Colombian jungle. There are also journals, reports, and photographs concerning his work for the Bureau of Plant Industry such as his search for fish poison and other economic plants (1934–1935) in British Guiana, Surinam, Venezuela, and Colombia; for tobacco seed (1935–1936) in Mexico and Central America; and for Arachis (1936–1937) in Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay; as well as his trips to the Amazon basin (1942) and Ethiopia (1950–1951).

* The papers cover the National Arboretum period but actually have little to do with Archer’s activities there.

A document of introduction (19 June 1934) for Archer’s travels in South and Central America for the U.S.D.A. was received at a later date.

Other resources
Individual and group portraits of this subject are available from the Hunt Institute portrait collection. Thumbnails of the individual and group portrait holdings are available as PDFs for research purposes. For publication-quality images, contact the Archivist to place an order.

Biographical citations for this subject are available from the Hunt Institute biographical collection as a PDF.

See also:
Edward Palmer’s papers at the National Anthropological Archives:

Archer's field books at the Smithsonian:

Percy Train papers at New York Botanical Garden:

Olga Reifschneider papers at the University Nevada, Reno:

Allee, R. H.
Baldwin, J. T.
Bartlett, H. H.
Camargo, Felisberto
Chase, Agnes
Constance, Lincoln
Dunn, David B.
Edwin, Gabriel
Erlanson, Carl O.
Froes, Ricardo de Lemos
Henrichs, James R.
Iltis, Hugh H.
Keck, David D.
Killip, Ellsworth P.
Maguire, Bassett
Mathias, Mildred E.
Merrill, E. D.
Millar, Robert H.
Morrison, Benjamin Y.
Porter, C. L.
Reifschneider, Olga
Robbins, William J.
Rollins, Reed C.
Ryerson, K. A.
Schultes, Richard E.
Stevenson, John A.
Train, Agnes and Percy
Verdoorn, Frans
Wherry, Edgar T.
Whitehouse, W. E.
Williams, Louis O.
Woodson, Robert E.
Yuncker, T. G.

Archer, William Andrew
Collecting in Paraguay with circular sieve and plant press.
Date: 17 December 1936
Location: Villarica, Paraguay
HI Archives portrait no. 3

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