Robert Hagelstein Records (RG4)

Archives, The LuEsther T. Mertz Library
The New York Botanical Garden
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This finding aid was produced in English.

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Collectors: Hagelstein, Robert, 1870-1945.
Title: Robert Hagelstein Records (RG4)
Dates: 1904-1945
Dates: bulk 1927-1945
Quantity: 3.2 linear feet; 9 boxes
Call Phrase: Hagelstein (RG4)

Biography of Robert Hagelstein

Robert Hagelstein was born May 16, 1870 in Brooklyn, New York. He was Honorary Curator of Myxomycetes at the New York Botanical Garden from 1930 until his death in 1945. He accompanied Nathaniel Lord Britton on the Scientific Survey of Puerto Rico in 1926, 1928 and 1929. His Diatomaceae of Porto Rico and the Virgin Islands was published by the New York Academy of Sciences in 1939.

Hagelstein's first interest was microscopy, which he at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences. After graduating from high school in Brooklyn, Hagelstein joined J. and D. Lehman Co., a glove manufacturer located at 15 Union Square West in New York City. He retired as manager in 1925 and dedicated himself full-time to his scientific studies.

His attention was captured by the Myxomycetes, then known as Mycetozoa. At first he studied them concurrently with the diatoms. His first publication on Mycetozoa appeared in 1927. Eventually they became his primary interest. He made collecting trips from Canada to Florida, concentrating primarily on Long Island and Pennsylvania. His constant collecting partner was Joseph H. Rispaud. In 1931 he collected in the West Indies.

Hagelstein served as President of the New York Microscopical Society during 1923 and 1924. At the time Hagelstein was engaged in the study and photomicrography of diatoms. Nathaniel Lord Britton, a member of the Society, invited Hagelstein to participate in the Scientific Survey of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Throughout his career he continued to do his own photomicrography. The photographs in his monograph The Mycetozoa of North America, based on the specimens in the herbarium of the New York Botanical Garden are examples of his mastery of microphotography

Concurrent with his service as Honorary Curator of Myxomycetes, Hagelstein was, unofficially the curator of microscopic devices. He was also, unofficially, the curator of the microscopic devices in the NYBG collection. In 1936 the New York State Museum invited him to survey, verify and make determinations for its myxomycete collections including materials collected by Charles H. Peck.

When he began his curatorship, the New York Botanical Garden's myxomycete collection consisted of 2000 specimens collected by J. B. Ellis. Hagelstein oversaw the purchase of the W. C. Sturgis collection of 3200 specimens. By 1943 the collection had grown to 13, 207 specimens. Of those, Hagelstein collected 4,970 and 2,700 were gained through exchange of materials he had personally collected. Of the 319 accepted world species at the time, 304 could be found in the New York Botanical Garden herbarium. Hagelstein kept detailed records of the collection including microscopical study of sporangia and spores.

It was upon this collection that he drew in the writing of The Mycetozoa of North America… A reviewer at the time called it "a momentous revelation of painstaking study…" and said, "The air has been cleared of confusion in the validity of many species by the author's scrupulous examination and comparison of countless specimens in the world's largest collection of Myxomycetes."

In 1940, he lent his collection of 15,000 slides of Diatoms, which included the collections of D. B. Ward and W. A. Poysner and others that he had purchased over the years to the NYBG. On January 11, 1941 a room in the Cryptogamic Herbarium was dedicated to Hagelstein's two interests-Diatoms and Myxomycetes.

Throughout his career, Hagelstein enthusiastically shared his interests with amateurs. He is remembered for the entertaining and informative field trips he led for members of the NYBG.

He died on Oct. 20, 1945 in Mineola, L.I., N.Y., survived by his wife Marsha and a sister Charlotte Hagelstein of Brooklyn, N.Y.

Scope and Content

The Robert Hagelstein Records, 1904-1945 documents Robert Hagelstein's study of Myxomycetes from its inception through the publication of his monograph Mycetezoa of North America, based on the specimens in the herbarium of the New York Botanical Garden. The production of the book is documented thoroughly with the annotated typescript, photographs, galleys, and the photoengraved plates used to produce the work. The bulk of the material consists of correspondence with colleagues around the world concerning determinations and specimen exchanges. Notebooks include specimen studies and an informal journal of his collecting trip to the West Indies.


The collection is organized into six series:
Series 1: Correspondence. 1918-1945. Arranged chronologically and alphabetically
Series 2: Myxomycetes. 1927-1945. Arranged by subject.
Series 3: Notebooks. 1929-1942. Arranged by subject.
Series 4: Manuscripts. 1904-1944. Arranged by subject.
Series 5: "Mycetozoa of North America". 1944. Arranged by subject.
Series 6: Photographs. 1929-1944. Arranged by subject.


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.
Botanical microscopy.
Hagelstein, Robert, 1870-1945 -- Archives.
Myxomycetes -- North America.
New York Botanical Garden Archives.
Plants -- New York (State) -- Long Island.

Related Material

New York Botanical Garden

PP--William Codman Sturgis Papers

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Hagelstein (RG4), Archives, The New York Botanical Garden.

Acquisition Information

This collection was transferred to the New York Botanical Garden Archives.

Processing Information

Originally processed by Laura Zelasnic, Project Archivist, February 1999. Converted to EAD in September 2006 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:

Hagelstein's correspondence contains lists of specimens of both diatoms and myxomycetes as well as formal and informal views from the most renowned scholars of both fields. In his capacity as President of the New York Microscopical Society, he exchanged information with like groups throughout the world. The McKinley and Morris folders in Subseries A contain information about Hagelstein's financial investments and have informative value for students of that aspect of the era. More information on this historical aspect is found in Series 4: Manuscripts where backs of his Lecture Notes on Diatoms, are the February, 1904 dailies of the "Wall Street Journal Electric News Ticker." All photographs which originally were enclosed in correspondence have been removed and placed into Series 6: Photographs.

Folder Title Date
1.1 A-F #1 ca. 1918-1926
1.2 A-F #2 ca. 1918-1926
1.3 G-McK ca. 1918-1926
1.4 Blake, John M. ca. 1918-1926
1.5 Kendall, Oliver, Jr. ca. 1918-1926
1.6 MacBride, Thomas H. ca. 1918-1926
1.7 McKinnley and Morris #1 ca. 1918-1926
1.8 McKinnley and Morris #2 ca. 1918-1926
1.9 Mann, Albert ca. 1918-1926
1.10 McK-R #1 ca. 1918-1926
2.1 McK-R #2 ca. 1918-1926
2.2 S-Z ca. 1918-1926
2.3 A-B #1 ca. 1927-1942
2.4 A-B #2 ca. 1927-1942
2.5 Bartholomew, James R. ca. 1927-1942
2.6 Bilgram, Hugo ca. 1927-1942
2.7 C-E #1 ca. 1927-1942
2.8 C-E #2 ca. 1927-1942
3.1 Conger, Paul ca. 1927-1942
3.2 Dearness, John ca. 1927-1942
3.3 Emoto, Yoshikadzu ca. 1927-1942
3.4 F-K #1 ca. 1927-1942
3.5 F-K #2 ca. 1927-1942
3.6 Gray, William D. ca. 1927-1942
3.7 Jahn, E. ca. 1927-1942
3.8 L ca. 1927-1942
3.9 Lister, Gulielma ca. 1927-1942
3.10 M ca. 1927-1942
3.11 Martin, George W. ca. 1927-1942
3.12 Meylan, Charles ca. 1927-1942
3.13 N-Q ca. 1927-1942
4.1 R-S #1 ca. 1927-1942
4.2 R-S #2 ca. 1927-1942
4.3 Robinson, J.H. ca. 1927-1942
4.4 Seaver, Fred J. ca. 1927-1942
4.5 Sturgis, William C. ca. 1927-1942
4.6 T-Z #1 ca. 1927-1942
4.7 T-Z #2 ca. 1927-1942
4.8 A-C ca. 1943-1945
4.9 D-H ca. 1943-1945
4.10 Hobbies Magazine ca. 1943-1945
4.11 K-P ca. 1943-1945
4.12 R-S ca. 1943-1945

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Series 2. Myxomycetes.

Scope and Content:

Materials in this series relate to Hagelstein's primary interest and his role as curator at the NYBG. Included are inventory lists for the NYBG collections, those at the New York State Museum and the Farlow Herbarium. There is a list of specimen donors by name. Two notebooks record dispatches and exchanges. There is a geographic distribution chart, made by Hagelstein. Correspondence regarding myxomycetes is located in Series 1: Correspondence. All photographs have been removed and placed into Series 6: Photographs.

Folder Title Date
5.1 Report and Inventories n.d.-1943
5.2 Collection Lists 1943-1942
5.3 Determinations and Examinations 1935-1941
5.4 Dispatches and Exchanges 1927-1941
5.5 Donor Lists 1936-1945
5.6 Farlow Herbarium List n.d.
5.7 Geographical Distribution Chart n.d.
5.8 New York State Museum Revisions 1936-1938

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Series 3. Notebooks.

Scope and Content:

The notebooks in this series are: A trial log of photomicrography, 1929-1931; a non-scientific journal of his voyage to the West-Indies in 1931 and one laboratory book which records observations on particular materials from 1930-1942.

Folder Title Date
5.9 Photomicrography 1929-1931
5.10 Trinidad Diary 1931
5.11 Laboratory Notebook 1930-1942

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Series 4. Manuscripts.

Scope and Content:

Manuscripts and typescripts for lectures and published and unpublished articles are included in this series. The first folder, "Lecture notes on diatoms" consists of hand-written notes on the backs of "Wall Street Journal Electric Page News-Ticker Service Bulletins for the month of February, 1904. Another item is an article written for Hobbies magazine extolling Myxomycetes as a hobby. The query letter related to that piece is found in Series 1: Correspondence. The text of a talk on his experiences in the West Indies is found here. A History of the Microscope which was never published is included. Two folders contain English translations, in Hagelstein's handwriting of chapter 2 of Frederich Brieger's "Selbsterilität…" Typescripts for his series, Notes on the Mycetozoa which was published in Mycologia are also found here. All photographs have been removed and placed in Series 6: Photographs.

Folder Title Date
5.12 Lecture Notes on Diatoms ca. 1904
5.13 Mycetozoa: Animals or Plants [1944]
5.14 Note for "Science" n.d.
5.15 Trip of Sept. 24 to Mineola, N.Y. n.d.
5.16 Myxomycetes and Diatoms n.d.
5.17 Collecting Excursions for Myxomycetes 1937-1938
5.18 A Botanist Rambles Through the West Indies [1931]
5.19 The History of the Microscope n.d.
5.20 Notes on the Mycetozoa-VIII [ca. 1944]
5.21 "Selbsterilitat …in Pflanzenreich…" by Frederich Brieger, Translation of Chapter 2 and 3 #1 n.d.
5.22 "Selbsterilitat …in Pflanzenreich…" by Frederich Brieger, Translation of Chapter 2 and 3 #2 n.d.

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Series 5. "Mycetozoa of North America", .

Scope and Content:

This series contains all material related to its production. Correspondence regards sales of the book after it was published and letters of praise. The complete typescript of the book is found here as are page proofs, printer's galleys and an advertising prospectus. The set of photoengraved half-tone plates (less plate 16) used for the black and white photographic illustrations and the color separation plates for the lithographic illustrations is preserved in this series. The photographs, themselves, have been transferred to Series 6: Photographs.

Folder Title Date
6.1 Correspondence 1944
6.2 List of Citations sent to Barnhart ca. 1943-1945
6.3 Typescript, pages 1-150 ca. 1943-1945
6.4 Typescript, pages 151-300 ca. 1943-1945
6.5 Typescript, pages 301-401 and bibliography ca. 1943-1945
6.6 Page Proofs, First ca. 1943-1945
6.7 Page Proofs, 1-150 ca. 1943-1945
6.8 Page Proofs, 151-299 ca. 1943-1945
6.9 Photo Layouts, Plates 6-14 ca. 1943-1945
6.10 Prospectus ca. 1943-1945
7.1 Galley Proofs, Set 1 1944
7.2 Galley Proofs, Set 2 1944
7.3 Galley Proofs, Set 3 1944
8.2 Photoengraved Half-tone plates 1, 6-15 1944
9.2 Color separation plates 2, 3, 4, 5 1944
9.2 Brass Die for spine imprint 1944

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Series 6. Photographs.

Scope and Content:

This series contains all of the photographs, layouts, exposure trials and exposure logs used in "Mycetozoa of North America" . Photoengraved half-tones of these plates are Series 5: " Mycetozoa of North America." Other photographs are connected with journal articles. Photographs of the specimen Laproderma Muscorum are here. There is a group of Diatoms photographed by E.W. Roberts in 1936. Correspondence connected to the transmission of those photographs can be found in Series 1: Correspondence.

Folder Title Date
9.3 Exposure Log ca 1936-1945
9.4 Photographs used for Half-tones ca 1936-1945
9.5 Layout sheets ca 1936-1945
9.6 Trial plates ca 1936-1945
9.7 Individual Specimens, Plates 1, 6-7 ca 1936-1945
9.8 Individual Specimens, Plates 8-10 ca 1936-1945
9.9 Individual Specimens, Plates 11-12 ca 1936-1945
9.10 Individual Specimens, Plates 13-14 ca 1936-1945
9.11 Journal Article: New Mycetezoa from Long Island, Mycologia 21, Pl. 26 1929
9.12 Journal Article: New and Rare Mycetozoa from Long Island, Mycologia 27, Pl. 34 1935
9.13 Journal Article: Common Species of the Mycetozoa, Torreya 38:25-41 1938
9.14 Specimens: Laproderma Muscorum (NYBG 7248 and 9893) n.d.
9.15 Diatoms photographed by E.W. Roberts 1936

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