Sidney Fay Blake Papers (PP)

Archives, The LuEsther T. Mertz Library
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Collectors: Blake, S. F. (Sidney Fay), 1892-1959.
Title: Sidney Fay Blake Papers (PP)
Dates: 1922-1953
Dates: bulk, 1935-1950
Abstract: Collection consists of incoming and outgoing correspondence and postcards.
Quantity: 2.5 linear inches; 1 box
Call Phrase: Sidney Fay Blake (PP)

Biography of Sidney Fay Blake

Sidney Fay Blake (1892-1959) was a taxonomist who was recognized as one of the world's experts on botanical nomenclature. His area was the Compositae. In 1956 he was named one of the 50 greatest living botanists in America by the Botanical Society of America. Blake contributed a treatment of the Polygalaceae to the original North American Flora.

Additionally, Blake was a bibliographer. The "Geographical Guide to the Floras of the World" which he began with Alice C. Atwood, a librarian at the Department of Agriculture library, provides a reference to obscure and famous floras, both books and articles, arranged geographically.

He was born in Stoughton, Mass. on August 31, 1892. As a youth he came under the influence of Prof. R.G. Leavitt, a neighbor who happened to be a botanist at Harvard.

Blake entered Harvard with the purpose of studying botany. He studied with B.L. Robinson and M.L. Fernald. He received his Ph.D. in 1916. His thesis was on Viguiera.

Following graduation, he joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture under Frederick Coville in the Division of Botany where he prepared the Standardized Plant names. Blake refused promotions to adminstrative positions and for his entire career performed workmanlike tasks. All of his pure research was done in his spare time. His other areas of interest were paleontology and researching Sherlock Holmes for the Baker Street Journal.

In 1943 he was elected President of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists.

Blake was married to the former Doris M. Holmes, an entomologist. They resided in Arlington, Va. The Blakes had one daughter, Doris Sidney Ullman of Urbana, Ill.

Sidney Blake died in his laboratory at Beltsville, Md. on Dec. 31, 1959. He was memorialized in Taxon 9 (June, 1960), featuring his complete bibliography. His herbarium and library was acquired by the Texas Research Foundation. When the Texas Research Foundation was liquidated its property and lands were distributed to Texas A & M University and the University of Texas at Dallas and at Austin.

Scope and Content

The Sidney Blake Papers, 1922-1953, documents Blake's collegial relationships within the international taxonomic community. It contains letters and postcards. It is arranged in one series.


The collection consists of one series:
Series 1: Correspondence. 1922-1953. Arranged alphabetically.


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.
Blake, S. F. (Sidney Fay), 1892-1959.
Merrill, Elmer Drew, 1876-1956.
Pittier, Henri, 1857-1950.
Plants -- Classification.

Related Material

New York Botanical Garden

PP--William Cashman Ferguson Papers

American Philosophical Society

FCN--Sidney Fay Blake

Sidney Fay Blake Correspondence

Gray Herbarium and Arnold Arboretum Combined Libraries, Harvard University

Papers of Benjamin Lincoln Robinson, 1887-1934

Administrative Correspondence of the Gray Herbarium, 179?-1965

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Sidney Fay Blake (PP), Archives, The New York Botanical Garden.

Processing Information

Originally processed by Laura Zelasnic, Project Archivist, January 2000, with grant funding from The National Endowment for the Humanities. (NEH-PA 23141-98). Converted into 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:

This series contains selected correspondence on taxonomic issues with colleagues in the United States, Latin America and Europe. Correspondence is arranged alphabetically by correspondent.

Folder Title Date
1.1 Abrams, Le Roy 1927
1.2 Bequaert, Joseph Charles 1946
1.3 Chase, Agnes 1950
1.4 Cronquist, Arthur 1944
1.5 Darrah, William C. 1938
1.6 Dayton, William 1948-1954
1.7 Eastwood, Alice 1940
1.8 Evans, Alexander W. 1947-1949
1.9 Howell, John Thomas 1940
1.10 Hutchinson, J. 1922-1931
1.11 Kearney, G.H. 1935
1.12 Merrill, E.D. 1935-1945
1.13 Pittier, Henri 1935-1948
1.14 Schweinfurth, Charles 1951
1.15 Simonet, Jean 1953
1.16 Stephenson, L.W. 1940
1.17 Steyermark, Julian 1936

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