Botanical Databases
Other Botanical Links
Library Collections

Alvah Augustus Eaton (1865-1908)


Alvah Augustus Eaton was born in Seabrook, New Hampshire and moved with his family to a farm in Salisbury, Massachusetts when he was twelve. He went to high school at the Putnam School in Newburyport, Mass., where he finished the four year course in two years. Eaton then taught for one year in Seabrook, N.H. and for three years in California, where he also took up farming. Upon returning to New England, Eaton was both a farmer and a teacher until poor health led him to give up teaching and become a florist.

A self-taught botanist, Eaton focused on fernworts (pteridophytes), grasses and orchids. His work on Equisetum and Isoetes was of particular note; he "described many species in these groups, and revised the matter relating to them for Gray's New Manual of Botany" (W.N.C. 110). At the time of his death he had prepared for publication a study on Orchidaceae and a monograph on Isoetes.

Eaton was a member of the Linnean Fern Chapter, which would become the American Fern Society and was a frequent contributor to the Fern Bulletin. For the last six years of his life, Eaton was associated with the Ames Botanical Laboratory at North Easton, Mass. He made one collecting trip to Europe and three to Florida for the Laboratory, during which he discovered "more than a dozen ferns new to the United States" ( W.N.C. 110). He served as Secretary of the American Fern Society for two years, as President for one year, and later "took up the formation of an herbarium for the Society" (W.N.C. 111). He held the post of curator of this herbarium from its inception until his death.


Leavitt, R. G. "In Memoriam: Alvah Augustus Eaton."Rhodora 10(120): 209-214, 1908.
C., W. N. "Alvah Augustus Eaton." Fern Bulletin 10(2): 52-53, 1902; 16(4): 109-111, 1908.

Scope and Content:

The Eaton papers consist of 16 notebooks containing field notes and other botanical notes; 4 letters; and a few small manuscripts of sets of notes. The notebooks appear to range from about 1895 to 1906; the letters are from 1899-1905; and the manuscripts are undated. Five of the notebooks pertain to field trips to Florida.


The letters and small manuscripts were wrapped in a paper addressed to M.L. Fernald at the Gray Herbarium from Mrs. A.A. Eaton, so they were probably given by her. (Also labeled "Bundle 1365.") The notebooks may also have been given by Mrs. Eaton.

Container Listing: Box AA

items 1-17 have been microfilmed


1. L.M.Underwood to Eaton, 1899
S(?) F Chuseman(?) to Eaton, 1900
Carnegie Institution to Eaton, 1902
W.C. Dukes to Eaton, 1905

Manuscripts and notes:

I. Saccharata -- notes, 3 p.
Isoetes Butleri -- notes, 1 sheet
Isoetes Macounii -- 3 p. notes
Isoetes Pringlei -- 1 p. notes
Isoetes -- notes on three varieties, 6 p.
"Location of some of the stations mentioned on the sheets comprising the herbarium of
Alvah A. Eaton", 3 typed sheets.

Small Notebooks:

2. List of birds, 1895; notes on miscellaneous plants -- seems to include notes on plants of other people as well as his own, one page is dated 1896.
3. Nature diary march 22,1896 - September 9,1899; also "List of dates for plants 1895" (probably when they first appeared or bloomed)
4. Diary for 1903 Florida trip, Nov. 2 - Nov. 18.
5. "Numbers - First trip to Florida. Nov.-Dec. 1903" -- portion of a notebook; rough notes on nos. 1-841; list of nos. only for second trip, 842-1068
6. "Florida Plants. Second Trip. May 1904"-- rough notes on nos. 842-1176
7. Book with names for nos. 1-1176.
8. "Number Book Maine 1904"-- July 3 - July 26; numbers and names, some field notes, 1-249; also expense account
9. Equiseta for 1900; summary of wants 1903, 1906; miscellaneous distribution records
10. Miscellaneous notes on plants, distribution records, etc.
11. Miscellaneous notes on plants, larvae
12. "Index"-- plants arranged alphabetically, with notes on them.

Larger notebooks:

13. Notes on plants, starts with "hiemalia", not numbered
14. Notes on uses of ferns
15. Equisetum notes, photos and sketches, 1902.
16. Notes on plants, dated Jan. '03, starts with "Saccharata"
17. Field notes on Florida collections, 1905, nos. 1177-1458.


18. Miscellaneous inserts found in notebooks: pressed plant, train ticket and clipping found in book no. 4; pressed plant and personal card found in book no. 10.

See Also:

Historic Letter Collection
Semi-Historic Letter Collection


| Gray Herbarium Archives Home Page |
| Botany Libraries Home Page | Harvard University Herbaria Home Page |

Last Updated June 2002
Copyright 2002 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College