Daniel T. MacDougal Papers (PP)

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The New York Botanical Garden
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This finding aid was produced in English.

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Collectors: MacDougal, Daniel Trembly, 1865-1958.
Title: Daniel T. MacDougal Papers (PP)
Dates: 1896-1905
Quantity: 3 linear inches; 1 box
Call Phrase: MacDougal (PP)

Biography of Daniel T. MacDougal

Daniel Trembly MacDougal (1865-1958) began working at the NYBG in 1899 as Director of the Laboratories and was promoted in 1904 to an Assistant Directorship. He was recognized as the leading American authority on desert ecology and one of the earliest botanists to research chlorophyll. He is also known as the inventor of the MacDougal dendrograph, an instrument used for recording changes in the volume of tree trunks.

Born in Liberty, Indiana in 1865, he attended DePauw University where he received his masters degree in 1894. He went on to receive a PhD from Purdue University and pursue post-doctoral studies in Leipzig and Tubingen. He was employed by the USDA to collect specimens in Idaho and Arizona during the summers of 1891 and 1892 . He taught plant physiology at the University of Minnesota from 1893 until he left in 1899 to come to the NYBG. After seven years at the NYBG, he left to become Director of Botanical Research at the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D. C. He remained at the Carnegie Institution until his retirement in 1933.

While at the NYBG, Dr. MacDougal served on a committee to establish a tropical research laboratory. This led to the establishment in 1905 of the Plant Desert Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona. He was appointed its first director and it would later become part of the Carnegie Institution. In 1907, he organized the Pinacate expedition to study the lava fields of Mexico with Godfrey Sykes and William T. Hornaday, who published a book on the expedition. In 1909, he established a coastal botanical lab in Carmel, California and became known as an expert on the Monterey pines. He teamed up with Godfrey Sykes once again in 1912 to cross the Libyan desert.

Dr. MacDougal received many honors in his lifetime and was a member of several scholarly organizations. Among these were the Hollandsche Maatschappe d. Welenschappen, Societe d'Acclimation de France, American Philosophical Society, Explorers Club, American Society of Plant Physiology and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was an honorary member of the California Academy of Sciences and the Botanical Society of Edinburgh. He was a life member of the Torrey Botanical Club and the Botanical Society of America, from which he received a merit award in 1956. He was the recipient of two honorary degrees, one in 1912 from DePauw and one in 1915 from the University of Arizona. In 1950 he was elected honorary president of the International Botanical Congress in Stockholm and was awarded the first Certificate of Distinguished Service from the NYBG in 1956.

Scope and Content

This collection consists mostly of correspondence. After Dr. MacDougal left the employ of the NYBG in 1905, no further papers were deposited with the NYBG. The bulk of this collection is concerned with the attempt to establish a botanical research station in the tropics. It should be noted that Dr. MacDougal was employed by the University of Minnesota at the time of the creation of this Tropical Laboratory Commission.


The collection is organized into two series:
Series 1: Tropical Laboratory Commission. 1896-1898. Arranged chronologically.
Series 2: General Correspondence. 1899-1905. Arranged by date.


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.
Anderson, A.P (Alexander Pierce).
MacDougal, Daniel Trembly, 1865-1958--Archives.
Botanical exploration--Idaho.
Botanical exploration--Montana.
Botanical exploration--Nebraska.
New York Botanical Garden Archives.
Tropical Laboratory Commission.

Related Material

The New York Botanical Garden

RG4--The Alexander P. Anderson Records

CFN--Collectors' Field Notebooks

Separated Material

The NYBG also owns six of Dr. MacDougal's field notebooks in the Collectors' Field Notebooks Collection. Numbers 7 through 10 are dated 1892-1900 and are concerned with Idaho. Numbers 11 and 12 are dated 1901 and are concerned with Nebraska and Montana.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Daniel T. MacDougal Papers (PP), Archives, The New York Botanical Garden.

Acquisition Information

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

Processing Information

Originally processed by Stephen Sinon, Assistant Archivist, March 1999. Converted to EAD in June 2006 by Kathleene Konkle under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH-PA 50678-04).

Container List


Series 1. Tropical Laboratory Commission.

Scope and Content:

Correspondence written and received while at the University of Minnesota concerning the establishment of a tropical botanical research station. The letters deal with appeals for support and background information and arrangements for site exploration trips. Jamaica seems to be the top contender for a site and no mention is made of Arizona as a possible site which was eventually chosen.

Folder Title Date
1.1 Tropical Laboratory Commission 1896-1898

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Series 2. General Correspondence.

Scope and Content:

Contained in this series are several letters from Alexander P. Anderson discussing his patents for the creation of puffed rice cereal, a process which he discovered while at the NYBG.

Folder Title Date
1.2 Miscellaneous correspondence 1899-1905
1.3 Henry F. Nachtrieb 1902
1.4 B. E. Livingstone 1902
1.5 J. M. Coulter 1902
1.6 J. C. Arthur 1900-1912
1.7 Alexander P. Anderson 1902-1905

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