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Series X, USDA History Collection

USDA History Collection

Series X. Historical Manuscripts, 1785-1922. 3 cubic ft. (approx.) [ca. 100 items]

SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE: Collection "Marshall"

To: Collections "Ballard"--"Hollister" | "Hoxie"--"Loomis" | "Pennsylvania"--"USDA"

To: Series X Scope and Content Note | Series X Container List   ||   Collection Map 

Marshall, Humphry, 1722-1801. Papers, 1785-1792 and n.d. 22 items

Letters and other papers of Humphry Marshall, of Bradford Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. Marshall was a botanist and plant dealer, and author of Arbustum Americanum: The American Grove, 1785, (French translation: Catalogue alphabetique des arbres et arbrisseaux, 1788). He was a Quaker, and a cousin of botanist John Bartram (1699-1777).

These are all letters received by Marshall, concerned with orders for trees, shrubs and seeds, and the publication of his work. One of the main correspondents in this collection is British botanist and explorer Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), president of the Royal Society, London, and honorary director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Others include Dr. Thomas Parke (1749-1835), George Pennock, Samuel Vaughan, and William Vaughan. Several of the letters include detailed lists of plants requested. A few are addressed to Moses Marshall (1758-1813), Humphry's nephew and his assistant in the later years of his life. Included with the collection is an undated broadside, "Some Account of the Naked or Siberian Barley."

Notes on Names

and Spellings

The letters are arranged alphabetically by writer, and then chronologically. The broadside is filed after the letters. A list describing each item is given below.

A number of these letters were printed in William Darlington's double biography, Memorials of John Bartram and Humphry Marshall. Letters that appear in that book are marked with the note "Darlington, p. ___." Page numbers refer to the first edition (Philadelphia: Lindsay & Blakiston, 1849).


These letters were found in a brown paper wrapper with a label from the Franklin Bookshop, S. N. Rhoads, 920 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, Pa., addressed to Mr. [sic] C. R. Barnett, (i.e., Claribel R. Barnett), Librarian, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. A note on the wrapper gives the total value as $90. Pencil notations on many of the items, which include the price of certain pieces, were probably added by the manuscript dealer. The wrapper has been saved and filed separately in box 10/6, folder 3.

List of Marshall letters

  • Sir Joseph Banks to Humphry Marshall, April 5, 1786. Discusses the growing of the root of the ginseng. Darlington, p. 559. Box 10/4, folder 16.
  • Sir Joseph Banks to Humphry Marshall, February 6, 1788, an order for plants for "Kew Garden, his Majesties [sic] Botanic institution." In two pieces -- top of letter is torn off with the back leaf missing. Box 10/4, folder 17.
  • Sir Joseph Banks to Humphry Marshall, May 6, 1789, acknowledging the receipt of a box of plants and placing a request for some more for his Majesty's garden. Darlington, p. 562. Box 10/4, folder 18.
  • Sir Joseph Banks to Humphry Marshall, April 3, 1790, acknowledging receipt of plants and an order for more. Also notes that some of the smaller pieces of root may be too small to preserve and would be appreciative of larger ones in the future. Darlington, p. 563. Box 10/4, folder 19.
  • Sir Joseph Banks to Moses Marshall, March 2, 1791, acknowledging receipt of order and the placement of another. Darlington, p. 564. Box 10/4, folder 20.
  • Sir Joseph Banks to Moses Marshall, (1792), acknowledging receipt of order and the placement of another. Box 10/4, folder 21.
  • Sir Joseph Banks to Mr. Marshall, August 28, 1793, introducing a German friend, the Baron Itzenplitz, to Marshall, saying that "he may have it in his Power to recommend you to much business in Germany." Darlington, p. 565. Box 10/4, folder 22.

  • Dr. Thomas Parke to Humphry Marshall, 10 July 1789, stating that he had received a letter for Marshall from "Descenut" or "Deseemet" (?) of Paris which Parke had had translated into English. Also refers to another letter he has received from R. Barclay stating the King's gardener requests a box of cranberry plants. Oversize. Box 10/6, folder 2.
  • Enclosure from the letter above (Parke to Marshall, 10 July 1789), letter from Paris listing requests for plants in Latin, English, and French. Also gives instructions as to how the plants should be packed for shipment. Oversize. Box 10/6, folder 2.
  • Dr. Thomas Parke to Humphry Marshall, 9 October 1792, in which he states that he has obtained a shipment from John Bartram and includes a receipt and container list. Also mentions that he would like to fill an order for another individual very shortly. Note: The John Bartram mentioned (1743-1812) was the son of botanist and explorer John Bartram (1699-1777), and brother of William Bartram (1739-1823). Box 10/4, folder 23.
  • Enclosure from the letter above (Parke to Marshall, 9 October 1792), a receipt dated October 10, 1792, and signed by John Bartram (1743-1812) for "1 case of growing Roots of American Trees Shrubs etc." for 3 pounds. Box 10/4, folder 23.
  • Enclosure from the letter above (Parke to Marshall, 9 October 1792), a container list of "growing Roots of curious Trees, Shrubs & Herbacious Plants." Box 10/4, folder 23.

  • George Pennock to Humphry Marshall, Philadelphia, dated "9 mo." [i.e., September] 12, 1788, in which the author, a nephew of Marshall's, discusses his observations on the Hessian fly. Box 10/4, folder 24.

  • Samuel Vaughan to Humphry Marshall, Philadelphia, 13 April 1785, in which Vaughan expresses a desire to send a box of plants to England and asks if it is too late in the season to send them. Box 10/4, folder 25.
  • Samuel Vaughan to Humphry Marshall, Philadelphia, 30 April 1785, in which he describes presenting Marshall's Botanical Catalogue before the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture as well as the Philosophical Society and his efforts to get the work published. He also states that although Marshall was named an honorary member of the former Society that he is unable to enclose the certificate at that time. Darlington, p. 555. Box 10/4, folder 26.
  • Samuel Vaughan to Humphry Marshall, Philadelphia, 14 May 1785, in which he further describes his efforts to get Marshall's work published and his preference for the work to be published in America as opposed to England. He also asks Marshall's advice on plants to plant in the state-house square. Darlington, p. 556. Box 10/4, folder 27.
  • List of trees "Planted in the State-house square," as well as a list of "Wanted" plants, from Samuel Vaughan, ca. 1785. Box 10/4, folder 28.
  • Samuel Vaughan to Humphry Marshall, Philadelphia, 28 May 1785, in which Vaughan expresses his desire to plant in the State-house square all trees and shrubs that grow in North America. Asks for Marshall's assistance in this, also hopes that Marshall may expedite the corrections on his catalogue. Darlington, p. 557. Box 10/4, folder 29.
  • Samuel Vaughan to Humphry Marshall, Philadelphia, 22 May 1786, referring to the meteorological research of a professor of "Cambridge College, Massachusetts," and requesting Marshall's assistance in this project. Darlington, p. 558. Box 10/4, folder 30.
  • William Vaughan to Humphry Marshall, London, 20 July 1787 in response to a request of Marshall's as well as to thank him for seeds and plants his brother procured for him through Marshall. Suggests ways of labeling and packing that would better preserve the plants and seeds. Box 10/4, folder 31.

  • Broadside, "Some Account of the Naked or Siberian Barley," undated. Box 10/4, folder 32.

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