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Record Group Number: 900000
Series/Collection Number: M83- 2
Creator: Small, John Kunkel, 1869-1938
Title, Dates: Correspondence and photographs, 1902-1938.
Amount: 41.50 cubic ft.
Medium Included: photographs glass plate
Organization/Arrangement: Correspondence is chronological by year or years, then alphabetical.  Photographs are numerical by photograph number.
Terms Governing Use:
Biographical/Historical:     John Kunkel Small was renowned for his research on the flora of southeastern United States and concentrated his efforts on the study of the flowers, bulbs, and herbs of Florida.  His writings on botanical subjects included more than 450 books and papers.
    After receiving his doctorate from Columbia University, Small became the curator of the herbarium of Columbia University.  His doctoral thesis, Flora of the Southeastern United States, won him a reputation as one of the foremost taxonomic botanists of the world. In 1898, he became curator of the newly founded New York Botanical Garden, where he devoted his life's work.
    Small traveled to Florida for the first time in 1901.  He explored and photographed the forests of tropical hardwood trees and the interesting variety of tropical plants scattered throughout the state.  Through the patronage of Charles Deering, Small continued his Florida research for the next thirty-six years.  His book, From Eden to Sahara - Florida's Tragedy, received acclaim in 1929 for documenting the destruction of Florida's natural environment.  Small died in 1938.
Summary:     This contains the correspondence and photographs reflecting John Kunkel Small's career as a botanist and his frequent contacts with many leading botanists, scientists, explorers, and naturalists of his time including Oakes Ames, Roland M. Harper, Liberty Hyde Bailey, Lord Nathaniel Britton, David G. Fairchild, William Chambers Coker, Harold St. John, Thomas A. Edison, and fellow professionals at the New York Botanical Garden.
    The letters discuss requests for or offers of botanical specimens; comparative descriptions of similar botanical species; unique features of particular species; discovery of new species, and discovery of known species in new geographic locations; determining the identity of questionable specimens; and specimen collection trips to several states including Florida, described as "the most interesting one, from a botanical standpoint, in the Union" (letter to Professor H.C. Beardslee, New Smyrna, Florida, March 18, 1920). Also in the collection are a number of unpublished manuscripts and botanical notes on Small's discoveries.

    The collection also contains over 3,000 photographic images, including prints and glass plate negatives.  Although primarily a record of Small's botanical research, the photographs also document Florida's Seminole Indians, ancient Indian mounds, lighthouses, sugar cane grinding and boiling, a coontie (arrowroot starch) mill, the plant introduction station at Miami, and the Royal Palm Park (now the Everglades National Park).  Of particular significance are his photographs of Indian mounds and various views of hammocks before early development destroyed them.
Finding Aids: Box listing and name index to correspondents are available for the correspondence.  Numerical and subject index available for the photographic negatives.  Searchable index to photographs available on the Florida Photographic Collection web site at
Additional Physical Form:
Reproduction Note:
Location of Originals/Duplicates:
Associated Materials:
Language Notes:
Ownership/Custodial History: The donors are the son and daughter-in-law of John Kunkel Small.
Publication Note: Photographs published on the Florida Photographic Collection web site at
General Note:
Electronic Records Access: Photographs:
Subject Access Fields: Agriculture Florida
Seminole Indians.
Botany Florida
Botanists Florida
Naturalists Florida
Indians of North America Florida
Photographs. aat
Negatives. aat
Everglades National Park (Fla.)
New York Botanical Garden.
Added Entries Edison, Thomas A. 1847-1931 (Thomas Alva),
Ames, Oakes, 1874-
Bailey, L.H. 1858-1954 (Liberty Hyde),
Britton, Nathaniel Lord, 1859-1934
Fairchild, David, 1869-1954
Coker, William Chambers, 1872-1953
St. John, Harold.
Harper, Roland McMillan, 1878-1966

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