Edwin Bernard Matzke Papers (PP)

Archives, The LuEsther T. Mertz Library
The New York Botanical Garden
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Collectors: Matzke, Edwin Bernard, 1902-1969.
Title: Edwin Bernard Matzke Papers (PP)
Dates: 1915-1969
Dates: bulk, 1931-1964
Quantity: 8.2 linear feet; 5 boxes
Call Phrase: Matzke (PP)

Biography of Edwin Bernard Matzke

Edwin Bernard Matzke was a member of the Board of Managers of the New York Botanical Garden from 1958 until his death in 1969. He served on the Executive Committee, the Buildings Committee and was Chair of the Scientific Committee from 1962-1969.

He was a member of the faculty of the Columbia University Dept. of Botany from 1929-1966, serving as Chair from 1958-1966. In 1966, he oversaw the establishment of the new combined Biological Sciences Dept. and served as Chair of that department from 1966-1967. Matzke wrote a "History of Botany at Columbia, 1754-1953."

His field of interest was cellular morphology and his research took him into comparing the morphology of animal cells and metal molecules with plant cytology. His first published work was a cutout plan for the Orthic Tetrakaidecahedron (1931). He collaborated with engineers, biologists and his own students. He was Advisory Editor for the Encyclopedia Americana from 1950-1960 and contributed 167 popular articles to that publication. He was active in the Torrey Botanical Club, Sigma Xi and Phi Beta Kappa.

Matzke was born and lived in the Bronx his entire life. The collection underscores the value he placed on education. He kept materials from his elementary school days at P.S. 53 and Morris High School through his college and graduate work.

He was granted a Regents Scholarship to attend Columbia University as an undergraduate. Columbia awarded him a Cutting Travel Fellowship, which enabled him to study at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin during 1928-1929.

The inspired student became an inspirational educator. His relationship to his students was modeled on the mentorship of Carlton C. Curtis, his professor of Botany at Columbia to him. He succeeded Curtis as Department Chair in 1958. Matzke wrote an informal history of Botany at Columbia, 1792-1953 which is held in the collection of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library. He also served as Lecturer at Fordham University from 1942-1944.

He moved easily from teacher to collaborator. This is especially true of his work with J.W. Marvin of the University of Vermont and Regina Duffy. Duffy on the eve of her inauguration as President of Northwestern Connecticut Community College in 1969 wrote to him "Any measure of achievement of mine can never equal or even approach the impact of your influence on all of the thousands of undergraduates at Columbia College….Any small success I may attain is due in large part to the education I received from you."

Edwin Bernard Matzke died on Sept. 28, 1969 after a long illness. He was survived by his sister, Mrs. Joseph McCadden.

Scope and Content

The Edwin Bernard Matzke Collection (1915-1969) documents Matzke's career as an educator, his research in cytology and his personal relationships. It contains personal correspondence including post cards and greeting cards, a travel diary, professional correspondence, administrative correspondence, published and unpublished manuscripts, research material and lecture notes from his own student days through his time as professor and chair of the Dept. of Botany at Columbia University, illustration plates from 19th century natural history books, line drawing illustrations of cells and student manuscript theses. Research photographs are located with the relevant manuscripts. Personal photographs are found in Series 1 Personal Files. A manuscript prospectus outline for the new Britton and Brown Illustrated Flora (1952) is found in Series 1 Personal Files in the Henry A. Gleason Correspondence folder.


The collection is organized into five series:
Series 1: Personal Files. 1915-1969. Arranged chronologically.
Series 2: Columbia U. Dept. of Botany. 1931-1968. Arranged chronologically.
Series 3: Manuscripts and Publications. 1931-1964. Arranged chronologically.
Series 4: Research Files. 1932-1966. Arranged chronologically.
Series 5: Theses. 1937-1971. Arranged chronologically.


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.
Curtis, Carlton C. (Carlton Clarence), b. 1864.
Marvin, James Wallace, 1909-
Botany -- Study and teaching -- New York (N.Y.)
Cell physiology.
Cytology -- Research.
Matzke, Edwin Bernard 1902-1969 -- Archives.
New York Botanical Garden Archives.
Plant cells and tissues.
Wood, H.C. (Horatio C.), 1841-1920. Contribution to the history of the fresh-water algae of North America -- Illustrations.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Edwin Bernard Matzke Papers (PP), Archives, The New York Botanical Garden.

Acquisition Information

The Edwin Bernard Matzke Papers were donated to the New York Botanical Garden with Dr. Matzke's Library. A list of the books retained is found in the Vertical Files in the Edwin B. Matzke folder.

Processing Information

Originally processed by Laura Zelasnic, Project Archivist, May 2000, with grant funding from The National Endowment for the Humanities. (NEH-PA 23141-98). Converted to EAD in July 2006 by Kathleene Konkle under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH-PA 50678-04).

Container List


Series 1. Personal Files.

Scope and Content:

This series contains material saved by Dr. Matzke from his coursework at Columbia University, his diplomas from elementary school through his Ph.D., memorabilia from his travels including a journal and personal correspondence. A manuscript outline prospectus for the new Britton and Brown Illustrated Flora is found in the Henry A. Gleason correspondence. Other correspondence is found in Series 2: Columbia U. Dept. of Botany, 1931-1968; Manuscripts and Publications, 1931-1964; and Research Files, 1932-1966. Photographs include pictures of his residences in the Bronx and unidentified snapshots. Other photographs are found in Research Files, 1932-1966; Manuscripts and Publications, 1931-1964; Research Files, 1932-1966; and Theses, 1937-1971.

Folder Title Date
1.1 Curriculum Vita 1958-1965
1.2 Morris High School Graduation Program 1920
1.3 Certificate, University Scholarship 1920
1.4 Coursework, Botany 1 Notebook 1920-1921
1.5 Coursework, Botany 1 Sketchbook 1921
1.6 Coursework, Zoology 1 & 2, Notebooks 1921-1922
1.7 Coursework, Zoology 1 & 2, Sketchbook 1921-1922
1.8 Coursework, Botany 3 & 4, Notebook 1921-1922
1.9 Coursework, Botany 113 & 114, Notebook 1922-1923
1.10 Coursework, Botany 113 & 114, Sketchbook 1922-1923
1.11 Coursework, Mycology Notebook 1923-1924
1.12 Coursework, Mycology Drawings 1923-1924
1.13 Coursework, Zoology 101 & 102, Sketches 1923-1924
1.14 Coursework, Nature in Chaucer, Spencer and Shakespeare 1924
1.15 Coursework, Literature Notebook n.d.
1.16 Coursework, Chemistry 3 1924-1925
1.17 Coursework, Chemistry 3, Lab Book 1924-1925
1.18 Coursework, Zoology 51 n.d.
1.19 Coursework, Zoology Drawings n.d.
1.20 Coursework, Botany Notebook 1927
1.21 Coursework, Botany Notebook 1927-1928
1.22 Coursework, Botany 3 Notebook 1931-1932
1.23 Coursework, Morphology of Angiosperms Notebook 1932-1933
1.24 Coursework, Botany Notebook n.d.
1.25 Coursework, Botany Notebooks n.d.
1.26 Coursework, Chemistry 41 Notebook n.d.
1.27 Coursework, Cytology Notebook n.d.
1.28 Coursework, Mitosis in Onion n.d.
1.29 Cutting Traveling Fellowship Application ca. 1927
1.30 Travel Journal 1927-1928
1.31 Certificate, American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow 1931-1932
1.32 Torrey Botanical Club, 75th Anniversary Celebration 1942
1.33 Torrey Botanical Club, Andrews Fund 1948-1949
1.34 Torrey Botanical Club, Reports 1940-1952
1.35 Havana Cuba Postcards ca. 1954
1.36 Photographs n.d.
1.37 Correspondence, Bold, Harold C. 1929-1944/1969
2.1 Crockett, Lawrence J. 1965
2.2 Curtis, Carlton C. 1930-1950
2.3 A-C 1932-1966
2.4 D-E 1932-1940/1969
2.5 Gleason, H. A. 1939
2.6 F-G 1932-1952
2.7 Harding, Charles 1967-1969
2.8 H-K 1929-1967
2.9 Marvin, J.W. 1933-1953
2.10 L-M 1931-1969
2.11 N-P 1930-1938
2.12 Selective Service Correspondence 1942-1944
2.13 W-Z 1927-1954
5.1 Certificate, St. Augustine Sunday School 1915
5.2 Certificate, P.S. 53 Diploma 1916
5.3 Certificate, Morris [High School] Service League 1920
5.4 Certificate, Columbia University, BA 1924
5.5 Certificate, Columbia University, Ph.D. 1930

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Series 2. Columbia U. Dept. of Botany.

Scope and Content:

This series contains administrative papers and correspondence generated during Matzke's association with the Departments of Botany and Biology at Columbia University as a Professor and as Head of the Department. A copy of the deed donating the Lamont Sanctuary to Columbia University is found in this series. Other correspondence is found in Personal Files, 1915-1969; Manuscripts and Publications, 1931-1964; and Research Files, 1932-1966.

Folder Title Date
2.14 Plant Lists 1931
2.15 Research Program of the Laboratory of Plant Morphology ca. 1948
2.16 Seminar, Origin of Life in the Universe 1956-1964
2.17 Administrative Papers ca. 1941
2.18 Saga of a Field Trip 1941
2.19 Frank D. Fackenthal Testimonial 1948
2.20 Lamont Sanctuary 1968
2.21 Correspondence, A-B 1931-1966
2.22 Correspondence, C-E 1931-1968
2.23 Correspondence, F-G 1931-1968
2.24 Correspondence, H-K 1931-1968
2.25 Correspondence, L-M 1931-1967
2.26 Correspondence, N-Q 1930-1965
2.27 Correspondence, Sheehan, R. J. 1946
2.28 Correspondence, R-S 1927-1964
2.29 Correspondence, Torrey, R.H. 1931-1939
2.30 Correspondence, T-V 1927-1967
2.31 Correspondence, U-Z 1931-1967

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Series 3. Manuscripts and Publications.

Scope and Content:

This series holds manuscripts and correspondence related to Professor Matzke's publications from his Ph.D. Dissertation to his later work on liverwort culture. Included here are the manuscripts for a series of Encyclopedia American entries. The checklist of Salgado drawings is related to an unidentifiable manuscript. Also included here are manuscripts of Matzke's speeches and his poetry and fiction. Photographs and line drawings are filed with appropriate manuscripts.

Folder Title Date
2.32 Bibliography 1927-1943
2.33 Ph.D. Dissertation, "Morphological Study of the Variations in Stella Acquatica…" Drafts and Notes 1930
2.34 Ph.D. Dissertation, "Morphological Study of the Variations in Stella Acquatica…" Drafts and Notes 1930
2.35 Ph.D. Dissertation, "Morphological Study of the Variations in Stella Acquatica…" Drafts and Notes 1930
3.1 Orthic Tetrakaidecahedron Model Layout 1931
3.2 Photoperiodism 1937
3.3 Volume Shape Relationships in Lead Shot and Their Bearing on Cell Shape 1939
3.4 Autumn Coloration 1941
3.5 Fiction and Poetry 1942-1955
3.6 Soap Bubble for Grown Boys and for Engineering ca. 1943
3.7 Concept of Cells Held by Hooke and Grew 1943
3.8 Were Hook's Boxes Empty Cells 1943
2.9 Harper, Robert Almer Memorial 1946
3.10 Columbia U. Newman Club Address 1948
3.11 "In the Twinkling of an Eye" 1950
3.12 Minimal Tetrakaidecahedra in the Leaf Parenchyma of Rhoeo Discolor, Review 1950
3.13 Checklist of E. Salgado Drawings 1952-1954
3.14 Encyclopedia Americana Articles, A-B 1953-1963
3.15 Encyclopedia Americana Articles, C-L 1951-1963
3.16 Encyclopedia Americana Articles, M-Z 1951-1963
3.17 Encyclopedia American Articles, Correspondence 1950-1964
3.18 History of Botany at Columbia, 1754-1953 1953
3.19 History of Botany at Columbia, 1754-1953, Sources 1953
3.20 Interrelationship between Orthic Tetrakaidecahedra and Rhombic Dodecahedra in Aggregation Series, (Matzke & Naum) 1955
3.21 Three-dimensional Shape of Interphase cells within the Apical Meristem of Anacharis densa, (Matzke & Duffy) 1955
3.22 Progressive Three-dimensional Shape Changes of Dividing Cells Within the Apical Meristem of Anacharis densa, ( Matzke & Duffy) 1956
3.23 American Journal of Botany Reviews 1956-1965
3.24 Samuel F. Trelease Obituary 1958
3.25 Peering into the Future 1959
3.26 Plant Marvels in Miniature, Correspondence 1960-1961
3.27 Experiments on Crown Gall 1961-1964
3.28 Aseptic Culture of Liverworts in Microphytotrons 1964
3.29 3 Dimensional Configuration Gradients in Cells Within the Apical Meristem During Mitosis n.d.
3.30 3 Dimensional Shapes of Cells in Tissues n.d.
3.31 Role of Surface Forces in 3 Dimensional Shape Determination, Sources n.d.
3.32 Cell Shape Illustrations n.d.
3.33 Wood Characters & Species Characters in the White Pines of Commerce n.d.
3.34 Misc. Illustrations n.d.
5.6 Plates, Astrangia Danae (1889) 1936
5.7 Plates, Clark's Haliclystus Auricula (1889) 1936
5.8 Plates, Wood's History of the Fresh-Water Algae of North America (1873) [1872] 1936

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Series 4. Research Files.

Scope and Content:

This series contains original material, publication notes, mathematical calculations and correspondence related to Matzke's research on cell structure. Correspondence in this series underscores his wide range of interests in cellular zoology and geology as well as in botany. The material from H.A. Gleason is a prospectus for a revision of Britton & Brown's Illustrated Flora.

Folder Title Date
3.35 Carotene 1932
3.36 German News Clippings 1935-1944
3.37 Mathematical Models 1939-1942
3.38 Plastic Bubbles 1938
3.39 Anther and Root Studies 1939-1959
3.40 Cell Shape 1945-1959
3.41 Nucleic Acids ca. 1949
3.42 Smith, C.S. Grain Shape in an Aluminum Alloy 1952
3.43 Electron Microscopy ca. 1952
3.44 Cornea Slides 1954
3.45 Mistaire Labs Fern Symposium 1955
3.46 Ammocoetes 1956-1957
3.47 Color in Hydrangea ca. 1957
3.48 Gibberellic Acid 1957-1959
3.49 Meiosis 1958
3.50 Satterly, J. Moments of Inertia of Some Polyhedra 1958
3.51 Coxeter, H.M.S., Close-Packing & Froth 1958-1959
3.52 Liverwort Culture 1957-1960
3.53 Liverwort Culture, Blasia pucilla Experiments 1961
3.54 Notes on Sea Lamprey Larvae ca. 1961
4.1 Cassia Chromosomes n.d.
4.2 Misc. Abstracts n.d.
4.3 Bibliographies n.d.
4.4 Correspondence, Lewis, F.T. 1927-1952
4.5 Correspondence 1937-1951
4.6 Correspondence 1952-1966

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Series 5. Theses.

Scope and Content:

This series holds the work of Dr. Matzke's students at Columbia and Fordham. Matzke established long term relationships with some of these students and correspondence from them is found in Personal Files, 1915-1969 under Correspondence. Ph.D.theses were transferred to the NYBG Library, General Collection in 1971.

Folder Title Date
4.7 Acconci, T.F.D. Microsporogenesis in Begonia Semper Florens (Columbia) 1937
4.8 Vivian, V.E., Symmetry Studies in Sagina (Columbia) 1940
4.8 McNicholas, J.J., 3-Dimensional Shape of Pith Cells of Giant Ragweed (Columbia) 1941
4.10 Anderson, J.M., Study in Phylogenic Taxonomy (Columbia) 1942
4.11 Dodd, J.D., 3-Dimensional Cell Shape in the Carpel Vesicles of Citrus Grandis (Columbia) 1943
4.12 Northrup, S.M., Cell Shape Study of 3 Mosses (Fordham) 1944
4.13 Witte, M.B., Comparative Study of Cell Shapes in Liverworts (Fordham) 1944
4.14 Campbell, J.A., Cell Shapes in Liverworts 1943
4.15 Janiger, O., Cytological Changes in Gland Cells of Dionae Muscipula During Digestion (Columbia) 1946
4.16 Morris, Y. Aseptic Culture and Ontogeny of 5 Species of Leafy Liverworts (Columbia) 1961-1963
4.17 Bateman, S.D., Morphology of the Adult Sporophyte of Ophiglossum engelmanni prantl (Columbia) n.d.
4.18 Hollinghurst, H.M.P., Abscission Layer of Flowers of Begonia Semper Florens (Columbia) n.d.
4.19 Separation Notes 1971

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