Walker, Egbert H. (Egbert Hamilton), 1899-1991 Search this
8.08 cu. ft. (14 document boxes) (3 5x8 boxes)
The papers of Egbert Hamilton Walker were transferred to the Smithsonian Archives from the Hunt Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1977. Subsequently, two additional
transfers of papers were gifted by Egbert Walker in 1978 and 1979. In 1995, Walker's autobiographical notes were transferred from the Department of Botany, National Museum
of Natural History. In 2002, the Smithsonian Institution Press project file for the Flora of Okinawa and the Southern Ryukyu Islands was duplicated and filed within
the subject series of these papers.
The Archives would like to thank Priscilla Foley for conducting the preliminary processing of the Walker Papers in the Fall of 2000 as a part of a graduate internship with
the University of Maryland.
These papers document the career and life of Egbert Hamilton Walker, a Smithsonian Institution botanist whose taxonomic research centered on the Myrsinaceae
of East Asia. Types of documentation include correspondence, reports, copies and drafts of manuscripts, bibliographic card files, and autobiographical notes.
The papers of Egbert Hamilton Walker primarily pertain to the research, funding, and preparation for the Flora of Okinawa and the Southern Ryukyu Islands. This publication
was the result of over twenty years of research from Walker's time at the Department of Botany, United States National Museum to his time as Research Associate at the Department
of Botany at the National Museum of Natural History. Primary correspondents with regards to this publication include Tetsuo Amano, Sumihiko Hatusima, Tetsuo Koyama and Shinjun
Papers relating to the research, funding, and preparation for A Bibliography of Eastern Asiatic Botany and its supplement are also well represented. Reports on the
Servicemen's Collecting Program developed by Walker during World War II, and the Scientific Investigations in the Ryukyu Islands botanical program initiated by the Pacific
Science Board of the National Research Council and implemented by Walker are also documented in these papers.
Walker's primary correspondents from his early years at the Smithsonian until his retirement include botanists Harley Harris Bartlett of the University of Michigan, Elmer
Drew Merrill of Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University and Joseph Francis Rock.
Walker's autobiographical notes were written around 1978. The appendices to his autobiography pertain to his experiences in China from 1923 to 1926; the Old World collections
in the United States National Herbarium; Walker's field work, publications, and conferences he attended; the Walker family Christmas letters; and the editor of A Bibliography
of Eastern Asiatic Botany.
For records documenting Bartlett and Walker's research on Sumatran plants, see accession T89024, from the Department of Botany, United States National Museum. In addition,
record unit 7271 Rolla Kent Beattie Paper's, circa 1928-1947 include correspondence between Beattie and Walker concerning Japanese ferns and grasses.
Field notes pertaining to Walker's research in New Zealand, the Eastern United States, Japan, and the Philippines are included in the Collector's Field Books and Miscellaneous
Notes of the Department of Botany, National Museum of Natural History.
Egbert Hamilton Walker (1899-1991), botanist, was born in Chicago, Illinois. At age two and a half, Walker was diagnosed with polio. His illness, which had been left
untreated for so many years, left him with one good arm and a slightly damaged left leg.
After receiving his B.A. degree from the University of Michigan in 1922, he spent four years as an instructor at Canton Christian College (Lingnan University) in Canton,
China. In 1926, with the help of Professor Harley Harris Bartlett of the University of Michigan, Walker entered the University of Wisconsin. He received a M.S. degree in botany
in 1928 for his paper, Fifty-one common ornamental trees of the Lingnan University campus.
After leaving Wisconsin in 1928, Walker began work in the Division of Plants, United States National Museum at the Smithsonian Institution. Walker spent much of his time
reorganizing the neglected, Old World collections and prepared reports on his progress in 1934, 1941, and 1943. Walker became the department's Assistant Curator in 1942 and
Associate Curator in 1947. When the Division was reorganized into the Department of Botany in 1947, he was assigned to the Division of Phanerogams.
In 1928, Walker began work with Elmer Drew Merrill to compile a comprehensive bibliography on the literature of Chinese botany. The project was officially recognized as
a joint effort between the Smithsonian Institution and the New York Botanical Garden in 1931 when Merrill was Director of the latter institution. The resulting publication
was A Bibliography of Eastern Asiatic Botany, published in 1938. A Revision of the Eastern Asiatic Myrsinaceae eventually became Walker's dissertation for which
he received his Ph.D. in botany from Johns Hopkins University in 1940.
During World War II, Walker and the staff at the United States National Herbarium became involved in various wartime efforts such as the preparation of survival manuals,
pamphlets and articles for the army. Another wartime effort was a Servicemen's Collecting Program, proposed by Harley Harris Bartlett and developed by Walker. As the primary
contact for the project, Walker received many plant specimens, primarily from servicemen stationed in Guam, the Aleutian Islands, and Okinawa, Japan.
When the Scientific Investigation of the Ryukyu Islands (SIRI) botanical program was developed by the Pacific Science Board of the National Research Council, Walker was
selected to implement the program. In 1951, he left for Okinawa to conduct field work there and the surrounding islands. Walker would make three additional research trips
to the area in 1953, 1957, and 1966. This led to the publication of Important Trees of the Ryukyu Islands in 1954 and later, the Flora of Okinawa and the Southern
Ryukyu Islands in 1976.
Walker retired from the Smithsonian staff in June 1959 after 30 years. He continued his research on a supplemental edition to A Bibliography of Eastern Asian Botany
as a consultant with the American Institute of Biological Sciences in Washington D.C. from 1959 to1960. The supplement, along with the first volume is considered his most
important contribution to botany, was eventually published in 1960.
Beginning in 1961, Walker spent the majority of his time writing and revising the Flora of Okinawa and the Southern Ryukyu Islands supported by a grant from the
National Science Foundation to the Pacific Science Board of the National Academy of Science. He returned to the Smithsonian staff in 1965 as a Research Associate to the Department
of Botany, National Museum of Natural History and continued his work there until 1987.
Walker conducted botanical field work specifically in Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands, but also in New Zealand, Japan, the Philippine Islands, Hawaii, the Johnston Islands,
Guam, Thailand, and Vietnam. He was vice president (1944) and president (1949-1950) of the Botanical Society of Washington and a member of the Botanical Society of Japan.
June 12, 1899 -- born in Chicago, Illinois
1922 -- Bachelor of Arts, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
1922-1926 -- Instructor, Canton Christian College (Lingnan University), China
1928 -- Master of Science, University of Wisconsin
1928 -- Aid, United States National Museum, Division of Plants
February 18, 1929 -- married Elsie Howell
November 8, 1930 -- divorced Elsie Howell
April 10, 1936 -- married Dorothy Kemball
1938 -- published, A Bibliography of Eastern Asiatic Botany
1939 -- awarded Oberly Prize, administered by the National Library of Agriculture, for the A Bibliography of Eastern Asiatic Botany
January 20, 1939 -- birth of first child, William King
1940 -- Doctor of Philosophy, Johns Hopkins University
March 11, 1941 -- birth of second child, Jeanne Kemball
1942 -- Assistant Curator, United States National Museum, Department of Biology, Division of Plants
1944 -- Vice President, Botanical Society of Washington
1947 -- Associate Curator, United States National Museum, Department of Botany, Division of Phanerogams
1949 -- delegate for the Smithsonian Institution, Seventh Pacific Science Conference, New Zealand
1949 -- field work, New Zealand
1949 -- President, Potomac Appalachian Trail Club
1950 -- President, Botanical Society of Washington
1951 -- Civilian Specialist, Scientific Investigation of the Ryukyu Islands (program of the Pacific Science Board of the National Research Council)
1953 -- delegate for Scientific Investigation of the Ryukyu Islands, Eighth Pacific Science Conference, Philippines
1953 -- field work, Luzon Island in the Philippines, Hawaii, Johnston Island, Guam, and Okinawa, Japan
1954 -- published, Important Trees of the Ryukyu Islands