Rupert Charles Barneby Records (RG4)

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The New York Botanical Garden
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Collectors: Barneby, Rupert C.
Title: Rupert Charles Barneby Records (RG4)
Dates: 1940-2000
Abstract: Collection consists of correspondence, research proposals, illustrations, photographs, and articles.
Quantity: 40 linear inches.
Call Phrase: Barneby (RG4)

Biography of Rupert Charles Barneby

Rupert Charles Barneby (1911-2000) has been acclaimed one of the world's leading plant taxonomists, ranked by many with the legendary nineteenth-century taxonomist George Bentham. His main areas of expertise were the Leguminosae and Menispermaceae but he made other taxonomic contributions as well. He described and named 1,160 plant species new to science. Five new genera and 25 species were named in his honor. His monumental two-volume work, "Atlas of North American Astragalus" (1964), is a highlight of his long and prolific career.

Dr. Barneby was born on October 6, 1911, at Trewyn in Monmouthshire, Wales. He went to public school at Harrow (1924-1929) and attended Trinity College, Cambridge University (1930-1932), where he received a B.A. in History and Modern Languages. In 1978, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science from City University of New York.

At Harrow, the young Barneby met fellow student and nature enthusiast Dwight Ripley who was to become his lifelong partner and collaborator in plant exploration, collection, and horticulture. The two men, sometimes with Peter Davis, botanist, later at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, collected widely in Mediterranean Europe and North Africa, returning with seeds and plants to The Spinney, Ripley's home in Sussex, England, where they introduced many species to cultivation and mounted specimens for herbaria, including Kew. It was at Kew that Barneby met Noel Sandwith, botanist, classics scholar, and an important mentor in his scientific career.

Barneby and Ripley collected in America as early as 1936, emigrated three years later, and began systematically to search out and identify plants of the western United States and Mexico. Residing first in Los Angeles, they reunited with literary friends from England who had arrived earlier, among them Christopher Isherwood and Aldous Huxley. Barneby became a permanent resident in 1941. He placed specimens at herbaria throughout the West, including Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, where he met botanist Philip Munz, and California Academy of Sciences, where he developed lasting relationships with botanists Alice Eastwood and John Thomas Howell. In 1943, he and Ripley moved to Wappingers Falls, NY, and constructed a renowned rock garden where they grew plants they had collected in the Southwest. They built an equally renowned garden when they moved to Greenport, NY, in 1959. In 1974, Barneby and Ripley received the American Rock Garden Society's Marcel Le Piniec Award for their plant explorations and introduction of new rock garden species.

Barneby became associated with The New York Botanical Garden in 1943, contributing an account, at Henry Allan Gleason's request, of the genera Astragalus and Oxytropis to his Illustrated Flora of the United States and adjacent Canada, vol. 2, 1952. Over the next 57 years, he made significant contributions to the taxonomy of Astragalus, Oxytropis, Daleae, Cassiinae (with Howard Irwin), Mimosa (with James Grimes), Calliandra, and others. He was also an accomplished artist, illustrating many of his works in precise detail until a rock garden accident in 1963 injured his right hand and precluded drawing. He retrained himself, and the illustrations in his 1977 Daleae Imagines were again his own.

Barneby held honorary positions at NYBG from 1959-1972. In 1973, he was appointed Research Associate and in 1980 Curator in the Institute of Systematic Botany. He was an editorial consultant to Brittonia and on the editorial board of Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden, making considerable use of his comprehensive taxonomic knowledge, notable facility with Latin, and sharp editorial skills.

Barneby was recognized both inside and outside NYBG for his many achievements. He received NYBG's Distinguished Service Award in 1966 and Henry Gleason Awards in 1965 and 1980. Beyond NYBG, he received the Asa Gray Award from the American Society of Plant Taxonomists in 1989 and was acknowledged internationally with the Engler Silver Medal from the International Association for Plant Taxonomy in 1993 and the Millennium Botany Award at the XVI International Botanical Congress in 1999.

Barneby shared his expertise willingly with NYBG scientists, students, and visiting botanists by identifying plants, critiquing research projects, and preparing the proper Latin descriptions. Many took part in his "daily tea," where topics of taxonomic import, along with more casual issues, were discussed in an environment made congenial and supportive by his personable and open manner.

Barneby never lost his love of nature, in particular the landscapes and plants of the American West. For many years, he and Ripley made an annual collecting trip west, and after Ripley's death in 1973, he continued the practice in the company of trusted colleagues, frequently Patricia and Noel Holmgren. His last trip west was made alone, at 81, after which his health prevented travel. Outside his apartment, above the former NYBG stable where he lived since 1974, he planted his own daffodils - in a public garden already awash with blooms. In 1998, he moved to the nearby Kittay House, an assisted-living home, in the Bronx.

Dr. Barneby died December 5, 2000, following a stroke earlier in that year. He is buried in Smith Hill Cemetery near Honesdale, Pennsylvania.

Jacquelyn Kallunki with thanks to Frank Polach.

(For additional information see sources listed in Publications, Series 5.)

Scope and Content

The Rupert C. Barneby collection includes correspondence (1939-2000), research proposals, illustrations, photographs and articles about Dr. Barneby. His artwork has been removed to the NYBG Art and Illustrations collection and the field notebooks to that collection.


The collection is organized into eight series:
Series 1: Correspondence, 1939-2000, Arranged alphabetically
Subseries 1.A: General Correspondence
Subseries 1.B: Correspondence by Subject
Series 2: Research, Arranged by date
Subseries 2.A: Research materials
Subseries 2.B: Research grants
Series 3: Awards
Series 4: Publication lists
Series 5: Publications about Barneby
Subseries 5.A: Publications
Subseries 5.B: Obituaries
Series 6: Reprints
Subseries 6.A: Reprints by Barneby
Subseries 6.B: Reprints sent to Barneby
Series 7: Photographs
Subseries 7.A: Photographs of Barneby
Subseries 7.B: Photographs of Barneby Houses and Gardens
Subseries 7.C: Other Photographs
Series 8: Miscellaneous Materials


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.
Clokey, Ira Waddell, 1878-1950
Davis, P. H. (Peter Hadland), 1918-1992
Eastwood, Alice, 1859-1953
Grimes, James W., 1953-
Howell, John Thomas, 1903-1994
Irwin, Howard S., 1928-
Isely, Duane, 1918-2000
Kearney, Thomas H. (Thomas Henry), 1874-1956
Lewis, Gwilym P.
Sandwith, Noel, 1901-1965
Spellenberg, Richard, 1940-
Tiehm, Arnold

Related Material

New York Botanical Garden

CFN--Collector's Field Notebooks

RG4--Cronquist, Arthur

RG4--Irwin, Howard S.

RG4--Maguire, Bassett

RG4--Ripley, Harry Dwight Dillon

California Academy of Sciences

Special Collections, CAS Library

Separated Material

Artwork has been removed to the NYBG Art and Illustrations collection and the field notebooks to that collection.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Records of Rupert C. Barneby (RG4), Archives, The New York Botanical Garden.

Acquisition Information

This collection was transferred to the NYBG Archives.

Processing Information

Originally processed in August 2010 by Jacqueline Kallunki and Frank Polach. Converted to EAD in May 2010 by Lisa Studier.

Container List


Series 1. Correspondence

Scope and Content:

Correspondence, both incoming and outgoing, 1939-2000. Arranged alphabetically, with letters to and from Barneby interfiled by date.


Subseries 1.A. General Correspondence

Folder Title Date
1A.1 Ackerman, Tom, Mission Viejo, CA 1981
1A.2 Ahles, Harry E., University of North Carolina 1964
1A.3 Bacigalupi, Rimo, Jepson Arboretun, University of California, Berkeley

See also Robbins, G. Thomas

1A.4 Baker, Milo S., Kenwood, CA 1941
1A.5 Beatley, Janice C., UC Medical Center, CA 1965
1A.6 Benson, Lyman, Pomona College, CA 1944-1948
1A.7 Blake, S.F., USDA 1945-1947
1A.8 Booth, W.E., Montana State College 1951
1A.9 Borissova, A., Bot. Inst. Acad. Sci., USSR 1965
1A.10 Broaddus, Mabel Jones, Stockton, CA

dtr. of Marcus E. Jones

1A.11 Carter, Annetta, University of California, Berkeley 1985
1A.12 Christ, J.H., Portland, OR 1947-1949
1A.13 Clokey, Ira W., South Pasadena, CA 1941-1947
1A.14 Constance, Lincoln, University of California, Berkeley 1952
1A.15 Cronquist, Arthur, NYBG; University of Washington 1943-1950
1A.16 Davis, Peter, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh 1939-1946
1A.17 Davis, Ray J., University of Idaho 1944-1948
1A.18 Eastwood, Alice, California Academy of Sciences 1941-1948
1A.19 Ertter, Barbara, University of California, Berkeley 1982-1990
1A.20 Ewan, Joseph, Tulane University, LA 1948-1950
1A.21 Eyerdam, Walter J., Seattle, WA 1941-1942
1A.22 Fernald, M. L., Gray Herbarium, Harvard University 1942-1946
1A.23 Forero, Enrique, NYBG 1992-1994
1A.24 Garrett, A. O., Salt Lake City, UT 1947
1A.25 Gleason, H. A., NYBG 1945
1A.26 Grimes, James, NYBG

See also Awards. Asa Gray

1A.27 Grover, Frederick O., Oberlin College, OH 1949-1950
1A.28 Hanna, Leo A., Seattle, WA 1948
1A.29 Hermann, F. J., USDA 1947
1A.30 Higgins, Ethel Bailey, San Diego Society of Natural History, CA 1954
1A.31 Hitchcock, C. L., University of Washington 1945-1949
1A.32 Holmgren, Arthur H., Utah State Agricultural College 1945-1948
1A.33 Holmgren, Noel H., NYBG

See also Holmgren, Patricia K.

1A.34 Holmgren, Patricia K., NYBG

See also Holmgren, Noel H.

1A.35 Howald, Ann M., Sonoma, CA 1998
1A.36 Howell, John Thomas, California Academy of Sciences

Includes both incoming and outgoing correspondence between Rupert Barneby and John Thomas Howell. 1940-1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951-53, 1954-56, 1957-61, 1962-79.

1A.37 Ingwersen, Walter E. Th., Sussex, England 1940-1941
1A.38 Irwin, Howard S., NYBG 1968-1970
1A.39 Isely, Duane, Iowa State University

1956- 1977, 1978-1988

1A.40 Jenkins, Olaf P., California Academy of Sciences 1941
1A.41 Johnson, Kristen, Arizona Nature Conservancy 1991
1A.42 Johnston, Ivan M., Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University 1942-1950
1A.43 Just, Theodor, American Midland Naturalist 1942-1946
1A.44 Kearney, Thomas H., California Academy of Sciences

1944-1946, 1947-1956

1A.45 Kelaidis, Panayoti, Denver Botanical Garden 1989
1A.46 Kessel, Edward L., California Academy of Sciences 1950
1A.47 Killip, E. P., Smithsonian Institution 1946-1947
1A.48 Krukoff, Boris A., NYBG 1972
1A.49 Lavin, Matt, Montana State University 1989-1996
1A.50 Lewis, Gwilym, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew


1A.51 Liston, Aaron, Oregon State University 1987-1999
1A.52 McClintock, Elizabeth, California Academy of Sciences 1952-1956
1A.53 MacFarland, F. M., California Academy of Sciences 1943-1945
1A.54 Maguire, Bassett, NYBG 1944-1950
1A.55 Mahler, William F., Southern Methodist University 1970-1976
1A.56 Mason, Herbert L., University of California, Berkeley 1943
1A.57 Mathias, Mildred E., University of California, Los Angeles 1948
1A.58 Miller, Robert C., California Academy of Sciences 1944-1950
1A.59 Mizelle, John D., American Midland Naturalist 1947-1948
1A.60 Moldenke, Harold N., NYBG 1941
1A.61 Morton, C. V., Smithsonian Institution 1950
1A.62 Munz, Philip A., Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Claremont, CA 1942-1963
1A.63 Ownbey, Marion, State College of Washington, Pullman 1948-1949
1A.64 Packard, Patricia, College of Idaho, Caldwell, ID 1983
1A.65 Peck, Morton E., Willamette University, Salem, Oregon 1946-1949
1A.66 Peebles, R. H., USDA 1944
1A.67 Peirson, Frank W., Altadena, California 1943-1945
1A.68 Pennell, Francis W., Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia 1944-1950
1A.69 Porter, C. L., University of Wyoming 1950
1A.70 Prance, Ghillean T., Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew 1992
1A.71 Raven, Peter H., Missouri Botanical Garden 1960-1998
1A.72 Rickett, H.W., NYBG 1944
1A.73 Robbins, G. Thomas, Jepson Arboretum, University of California, Berkeley

See also Bacigalupi, Rimo

1A.74 Robbins, William J., NYBG 1941-1947
1A.75 Rollins, Reed C., Stanford University; Gray Herbarium, Harvard University 1947-1951
1A.76 Rousseau, Jacques, Montreal Botanical Garden 1945
1A.77 Rudd, Velva S., Reseda, California 1992
1A.78 Sandwith, Noel, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew 1941-1949
1A.79 Schassberger, Lisa Ann, Montana Natural Heritage Program 1991
1A.80 Seaver, Fred J., NYBG 1944
1A.81 Seigler, David, University of Illinois 1998
1A.82 Shinners, Lloyd H., Southern Methodist University 1954-1956
1A.83 Shultz, Leila, Utah State University 1980-1986
1A.84 Smith, A. C., New England Botanical Club 1944-1945
1A.85 Smith, Lyman B., Gray Herbarium, Harvard University 1944-1946
1A.86 Spellenberg, Richard, New Mexico State University 1969-1980
1A.87 Swallen, Jason R., Smithsonian Institution 1948
1A.88 Tan, Kit, Bot. Lab., Copenhagen University 1991
1A.89 Tester, E., Sussex, England 1940-1943
1A.90 Tiehm, Arnold, Reno, Nevada 1980-1999
1A.91 Twisselmann, Ernest C., Cholame, CA 1960
1A.92 Wallace, Gary D., Monrovia, CA 1980
1A.93 Weatherby, Charles A., Gray Herbarium, Harvard University 1945
1A.94 Weber, William A., University of Colorado Museum, Boulder 1947-1949
1A.95 Welsh, Stanley L., Brigham Young University 1986-1989
1A.96 Williams, Margaret, Sparks, NV 1972-1984
1A.97 Wittrock, G.L., NYBG 1942-1943
1A.98 Woodward, Carol H., NYBG 1945-1946

Subseries 1.B. Correspondence by Subject, Taxon-related Correspondence (filed by Barneby in NYBG herbarium; includes reports on rare and endangered species.)

Folder Title Date
1B.1 Astragalus adsurgens var. robustier 1984
1B.2 Astragalus beatleyi 1984-1992
1B.3 Astragalus bibullatus 1985-1991
1B.4 Astragalus crassicarpus var. crassicarpus 2000
1B.5 Astragalus cremnophylax var. cremnophylax 1984-1997
1B.6 Astragalus cusickii var. packardiae 1999
1B.7 Astragalus humillimus 1980-1989
1B.8 Astragalus jaegerianus 1986
1B.9 Astragalus kerrii 1986-1991
1B.10 Astragalus knightii 1982
1B.11 Astragalus lentiginosus var. ambiguous 1992-1993
1B.12 Astragalus molybdenus 1990
1B.13 Astragalus nutriosensis 1991
1B.14 Astragalus oophorus 1995-1998
1B.15 Astragalus perianus 1989
1B.16 Astragalus schultziorum 1980-1989
1B.17 Astragalus tortipes 1987-1990
1B.18 Astragalus yoder-williamsii 1979

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Series 2. Research

Scope and Content:

Arranged by date.


Subseries 2.A. Research Grants

Folder Title Date
2A.1 Barneby, Rupert C., Publication of "Atlas of North American Astragalus". National Science Foundation. 1963
2A.2 Irwin, Howard S. and Rupert C. Barneby. Revision of Neotropical Cassia subgen. Lasiorhegma Benth. (Leguminosae, Caesalpinioideae) NSF. 1974
2A.3 Irwin, Howard S. and Rupert C. Barneby. Revision of Neotropical Cassia subgen. Cassis and subgen. Senna. (Leguminosae, Caesalpinioideae). NSF. 1978
2A.4 Barneby, Rupert C. Revision of Mimosa (Mimosaceae) of the Brazilian Planalto. NSF. 1981
2A.5 Barneby, Rupert C. Revision of Mimosa (Mimosaceae) of tropical South America and West Indies. NSF. 1984
2A.6 Barneby, Rupert C. Generic segregation of Pithecellobium Martius and revision of Abarema Pittier and Macrosamanea Britton and Killip. NSF. 1987
2A.7 Barneby, Rupert C. and James W. Grimes. Taxonomic revision of generic segregates of Pithecellobium sensu lato, excluding Abarema and Macrosamanea. NSF. 1989
2A.8 Barneby, Rupert C. A revision of the genus Calliandra Bentham. NSF. 1994

Subseries 2.B. Research Materials

Folder Title Date
2B.1 Astragalus Index Nominum notes: 2 folders n.d.
2B.2 Astragalus, South America, notes: 10 folders 1986
2B.3 Legumes of Oaxaca, keys: 1 folder 1981

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Series 3. Awards

Scope and Content:

Arranged by date.

Folder Title Date
3.1 Henry Allan Gleason Award, The New York Botanical Garden 1965, 1980
3.2 Distinguished Service Award, The New York Botanical Garden 1966
3.3 Marcel Le Piniec Award (with Dwight Ripley). American Rock Garden Society. 1974
3.4 Distinguished Service Award, The New York Botanical Garden 1966
3.5 DSc (Doctor of Science), City University of New York 1978
3.6 Asa Gray Award, American Society of Plant Taxonomists 1989
3.7 Engler Silver Medal, International Association for Plant Taxonomy 1993
3.8 Millennium Botany Award, XVI International Botanical Congress 1999

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Series 4. Publication lists of Barneby

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Series 5. Publications about Barneby

Scope and Content:

Arranged by date.


Subseries 5.A. Publications

Folder Title Date
5A.1 Brittonia dedication to Rupert C. Barneby. Brittonia 33:261-274. 1981
5A.2 Grimes, James W. Rupert C. Barneby: Winner of the 1989 Asa Gray Award. Systematic Botany 15(1):1-2. 1990
5A.3 Martin, Douglas C. After England and Hollywood, beans win out. New York Times, 18 April 1992:23. 1992
5A.4 Rupert C. Barneby, 70 Years of Botany. The Herbarium Sheet, no. 254, 15 Oct 1997. 1997
5A.5 Holmgren, Noel H. Rupert Barneby and the Discovery of the Holmgren Milkvetch. Wild Earth 12(1):84-85. 2002
5A.6 Crase, Douglas. Both: A portrait in two parts. New York: Pantheon Books. 2004
5A.7 Wojchechowski, Martin F. and Aaron Liston. Rupert C. Barneby and his legume legacy. Brittonia 57(4), pp. 299-300. 2005
5A.8 Welsh, S.L. Rupert C. Barneby and Pugilus Astragalorum. In Rupert C. Barneby and his legume legacy. Brittonia 57(4):301-313. 2005

Subseries 5.B. Obituaries

Folder Title Date
5B.1 Martin, Douglas C. Rupert C. Barneby, 89, Botanical Garden curator and expert on beans, is dead. New York Times, 10 Dec 2000:67. 2000
5B.2 Thiers, Barbara. Dr. Rupert C. Barneby (1911-2000). Botanical Electronic News, BEN #261. 2000
5B.3 NYBG. Memorial Celebration, January 16, 2001. 2001
5B.4 Rupert Barneby (1911-2000). The Herbarium Sheet, 01/23/2001. 2001
5B.5 Rupert C. Barneby (1911-2000). Bol. Soc. Argent. Bot. 36(1-2):193-196. 2001
5B.6 Dr. Rupert Charles Barneby: October 6, 1911-December 5, 2000. Garden News V34 (2):18. 2001
5B.7 Liston, Aaron. Rupert C. Barneby (1911-2000). Oregon Flora Newsletter 7(1). 2001
5B.8 Welsh, Stanley L. Rupert C. Barneby (1911-2000). Taxon 50:285-292. 2001
5B.9 Spellenberg Richard. Rupert C. Barneby (October 6, 1911-December 5, 2000) A Memoir. SIDA 19(3):745-751. 2001
5B.10 Crase, Douglas. Ruperti imagines: a portrait of Rupert Barneby. Brittonia 53(1):1-40. 2001
5B.11 Lewis, G. P. A tribute to Rupert Charles Barneby (1911-2000). In B. B. Klitgaard and A. Bruneau, editors. Advances in legume systematics. Part 10. Higher level systematics. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 2003

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Series 6. Reprints


Subseries 6.A. Reprints by Barneby


Subseries 6.B. Reprints about Barneby

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Series 7. Photographs


Subseries 7.A. Photographs of Barneby


Subseries 7.B. Photographs of Barneby houses and gardens


Subseries 7.C. Other Photographs

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Series 8. Miscellaneous Materials

Folder Title Date
8.1 Notes on The Spinney
8.2 Various communications
8.3 Miscellaneous administrative
8.4 California Academy of Sciences correspondence
8.5 Correspondence soliciting donations/information
8.6 Correspondence concerning specimens found in office
8.7 Personnel records
8.8 Tape of memorial event held in NYBG lecture hall
8.9 Oral history interview by Carol Levine
8.10 Slides found in office

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