This finding aid was digitized with funds generously provided by the Smithsonian Institution Women’s Committee.
These papers are only a segment of Berlandier's papers which were purchased from Berlandier's widow by Lt. Darius Nash Couch in 1853. The Smithsonian Institution received
Berlandier's meteorological records, mineral collections, and natural history specimens and manuscripts. The remainder of the papers were sold by Couch.
Between 1855 and 1886, various persons connected with the Smithsonian Institution used these papers, particularly Berlandier's zoological and meteorological data, for research
and editing. Their notations, abstracts, and other materials are part of this record unit. Included are C. B. R. Kennerly, who translated portions of Berlandier's zoological
manuscripts; James Henry Coffin, who reduced the meteorological observation data that Joseph Henry intended to publish; and Walter L. Nicholson and Cleveland Abbe, both of
whom attempted to edit the works of Berlandier and Coffin, but were unable to complete the project.
These papers include Berlandier's correspondence; handwritten manuscripts on comparative anatomy, birds, botany, fishes, invertebrates, mammals, meteorology, reptiles and
amphibians; four volumes on zoology; a geographical journal; astronomical, barometrical, cyanometrical, and meteorological data; air temperature, rainfall, and underground
temperature data; sketches and watercolor paintings of birds, fishes, invertebrates, mammals, reptiles and amphibians; photographs of some of the watercolor paintings; a handwritten
manuscript on Indian mummies; Memorias de la Comision de Limites a los ordenes del General Manuel Mier V Teran, co-authored by Berlandier and General Mier; handwritten
manuscripts collected by Berlandier, including a Spanish-Latin dictionary on medicinal plants; and catalogs kept by Berlandier of his manuscripts and scientific collections
sent to Europe or kept by him. Also included are Walter L. Nicholson correspondence; drawings of Berlandier's physician and pharmacy office at Matamoros; maps; lists of American
medical officials stationed at Fort Brown, Texas, 1846-1851, and 1869; James Henry Coffin's abstracts of Berlandier's meteorological observation data as arranged by Nicholson;
printed materials collected by Berlandier and Nicholson; translations of Berlandier's meteorological manuscripts by Cleveland Abbe, Coffin, and Nicholson; translations of
portions of Berlandier zoological manuscripts by C. B. R. Kennerly; a catalog of Berlandier's manuscripts printed by the Smithsonian Institution in 1853; and notes concerning
the Berlandier manuscripts at the Library of Congress and the United States National Museum Library.
Berlandier's manuscripts were written mostly in French, with some written in Spanish and Latin.
Jean Louis Berlandier (circa 1805-1851), anthropologist, geographer, historian, meteorologist, and naturalist, was one of the earliest scientists to explore northeastern
Mexico and southeastern Texas. A native of France, Berlandier studied pharmacy in Geneva, and later studied botany under Auguste-Pyrame de Candolle at the Academy of Geneva.
In November 1826, Berlandier was assigned by de Candolle to collect natural history specimens in the northeastern part of Mexico including Texas. After arriving in Mexico,
Berlandier was appointed botanist for the Comision de Limites, a scientific boundary survey financed by the Mexican government to survey the Mexican-United States border west
of the Sabine River. Berlandier traveled with the Comision de Limites to southeastern Texas from November 1827 until May 1828 when he became ill with malaria. Berlandier then
returned to Matamoros to recuperate. From the fall of 1828 until the end of 1829, Berlandier continued his excursions into Texas. After 1830, Berlandier resided permanently
at Matamoros as a physician and pharmacist, but maintained his interest in natural history and the physical sciences. Berlandier maintained an extensive record of meteorological
observations that began when he left France in 1826. In May 1851, Berlandier drowned while crossing a river south of Matamoros.