William Baldwin Papers (PP)

Archives, The LuEsther T. Mertz Library
The New York Botanical Garden
200th Street and Kazimiroff Boulevard
Bronx, New York 10458-5126
Phone: 718-817-8604
URL: http://library.nybg.org/

The New York Botanical Garden. All rights reserved. © 2005

This finding aid was produced in English.

Finding aid produced using NoteTab Pro

Collectors: Baldwin, William, 1779-1819.
Title: William Baldwin Papers (PP)
Dates: 1811-1819
Dates: bulk, 1815-1819
Abstract: This collection consists of professional correspondence, notebooks, and manuscripts.
Quantity: 2.5 linear inches; 1 box
Call Phrase: William Baldwin (PP)

Biography of William Baldwin

William Baldwin (1779-1819) was a physician and one of the first botanists to explore the American Southeast, especially Georgia and Florida, and parts of Latin America and the West Indies. He was the initial botanist on Stephen Long's expedition to find the headwaters of the Missouri River. Sadly, he died at Franklin, Missouri six months into the expedition.

He is known to the history of botany through his friend and biographer William Darlington and his plant collections which are located in the William Darlington Herbarium, West Chester, Pa and the Herbier Durand at Paris. Baldwin's personal herbarium was sold to Zaccheus Collins after his death and subsequently purchased by Lewis von Schweinitz. Although von Schweinitz discarded Baldwin's labels, lists of his collections and von Schweinitz's commentaries are found in the Lewis David von Schweinitz collection in the NYBG Archives. The von Schweinitz herbarium is located at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.

Baldwin was born in Newlin, Chester County, PA. He became interested as a child in botany through his acquaintanceship with Dr. Moses Marshall, nephew of Humphry Marshall. In 1802 he began the study of medicine under Dr. William A. Todd at the University of Pennsylvania. There he met Darlington. Baldwin nursed him through an illness and earned Darlington's lifelong friendship.

In 1805, short of money to continue his studies, Baldwin enlisted as ship's surgeon on a merchant ship which went to Canton by way of Antwerp. In 1807 he was awarded his medical degree and he married Hannah M. Webster and moved to Wilmington DE where he opened a practice. They would have four children.

In 1811 he began a correspondence with Henry Muhlenberg who introduced him to Stephen Elliott. Baldwin's contributions to his "Sketch of the Botany of South Carolina and Georgia" were acknowledged by Elliott in his book.

Baldwin collected in Georgia and in territory occupied by the Creek Indians in Florida. He was extremely sympathetic to them, comparing them favorably to those of his own race who would conquer them. In 1817 Baldwin was named a corresponding member of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.

In 1818, he was appointed ship's physician on the US. Congress and accompanied Rodney's diplomatic mission to South America. He collected in Buenos Aires, Rio de Janiero and Uruguay.

The Long expedition left on March 24, 1819. Baldwin fell ill at Franklin, MO and resigned from the expedition, remaining behind. He died there on Sept. 1, 1819 and was buried beside the Missouri River. Darlington tried unsuccessfully to obtain a military pension for Hannah Baldwin and their children. In 1843 he published Baldwin's collected letters. These were reprinted with a new introduction by Joseph Ewan in 1969.

Scope and Content

The William Baldwin Papers documents Baldwin' collections and plant classification studies in the United States and South America through his correspondence with scientists in the United States and England. There is one manuscript for a published article and the journal from which it was drawn. Baldwin's journal recording his experiences on the Long Expedition was removed to Columbia University in 1956. It contains correspondence, journals, a manuscript and a notebook. The collection is arranged into four series.


The collection is organized into four series:
Series 1: Correspondence. 18188-1819. Arranged chronologically.
Series 2: Journals. 1812-1819. Arranged chronologically.
Series 3: Notices on the Sea Coast of E. Florida and the State of Georgia. 1816.
Series 4: Plant Classification Studies. n.d.


Access restrictions

This collection is open for research with permission from Mertz Library staff.


Requests for permission to publish material from the collection should be submitted in writing to the LuEsther T. Mertz Library of the New York Botanical Garden.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Baldwin, William, 1779-1819--Manuscripts.
Baldwin, William, 1779-1819--Archives.
Botanical exploration -- Argentina.
Botanical exploration -- Brazil.
Botanical exploration -- Florida.
Botanical exploration -- Georgia.
Botany--United States.

Related Material

New York Botanical Garden

Lewis von Schweinitz (PP)

Harvard University, Gray Herbarium

Papers of William Baldwin, 1803-1844

American Philosophical Society Library

Botanical Correspondence of Zaccheus Collins of Philadelphia, 1805-1827

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

William Baldwin (PP), Archives, The New York Botanical Garden.

Acquisition Information

This collection was accessioned on 28 April 1980 with the accession number x179.

Processing Information

Originally processed by Laura Zelasnic, Project Archivist, May, 2000, with grant funding from The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH-PA 23141). Converted to EAD in December 2005 by Kathleene Konkle under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) PA-50678-04.

Container List


Series 1. Correspondence.

Scope and Content:

Correspondence and notes of collections exchanges with colleagues.

Folder Title Date
1.1 Elliott, Stephen 1815-1819
1.2 Fraser, John 1817
1.3 Lambert, Aylmer Bourke 1817
1.4 Muhlenberg, Henry 1811-1814

Return to the Top of Page

Garden Home   Science Home   Contact Us   Terms of Use 

Series 2. Journals.

Scope and Content:

Manuscript records of Baldwins observations in the Southeastern U.S. and South America. .

Folder Title Date
1.5 W. Florida & Georgia 1812
1.6 E. Florida, Wilmington, N.Y., Rio De Janeiro 1816
1.7 Florida, Philadelphia 1817
1.8 Rio, Buenos Aires, Wilmington, Phila 1818-1819

Return to the Top of Page

Garden Home   Science Home   Contact Us   Terms of Use 

Series 3. Notices on the Sea Coast of E. Florida and the State of Georgia.

Scope and Content:

Manuscript of one of two publications by Baldwin and the journal from which it was drawn.

Folder Title Date
1.9 Notices of the Sea Coast of E. Florida and the State of Georgia, Ms 1816
1.10 Notices of the Sea Coast of E. Florida and the State of Georgia, Journal 1816

Return to the Top of Page

Garden Home   Science Home   Contact Us   Terms of Use 

Series 4. Plant Classification Studies.

Scope and Content:

Two notebooks containing Baldwin's notes for a catalogue of American plants and his studies of Monandria Canna.

Return to the Top of Page

Garden Home   Science Home   Contact Us   Terms of Use