These papers of Frederick Vernon Coville were part of a group of Smithsonian Department of Botany records which were originally deposited in 1971 at the Hunt Institute
for Botanical Documentation. In December 1977, the records were returned to the Smithsonian for maintenance in the Smithsonian Institution Archives.
These papers consist of a small amount of correspondence, 1888-1921; material concerning the Medicinal Plants Survey, 1897-1898; notes concerning the revision of Coville's
work on Death Valley plants, 1933-1936; and a small group of manuscript notes on currants and gooseberries, undated. Events and items of special interest which are documented
in the correspondence include the explorations of Per Axel Rydberg in the Black Hills; the artistic work of Frederick A. Walpole; the acquisition of the Greene Herbarium;
the botany exhibits at the World's Columbian Exposition, 1893; and the Mearns collection from the Mexican Boundary Survey, 1893.
The Smithsonian Archives contains other Coville correspondence scattered throughout a number of collections. Most of this material can be found in the records of the Division
of Plants, particularly Record Units 220, 221, 222, and 224. Other collections include Record Unit 201, Assistant Secretary in Charge of the United States National Museum,
1875-1902, and the records of the Office of the Secretary, Record Units 31, 34, 45, and 46. The main body of Coville's official correspondence is located in Record Group 54,
Records of the Bureau of Plant Industry, at the National Archives.
Frederick Vernon Coville (1867-1937), botanist and blueberry breeder, was born in New York and educated at Cornell University (B. A., 1887). His important field work
included the Geological Survey of Arkansas, 1888; the Death Valley Expedition, 1891; and the Harriman Alaska Expedition, 1899. Most of his career was spent at the United States
Department of Agriculture, where he served as Assistant Botanist, 1888-1893, and Botanist, 1893-1937. He was also Honorary Curator of the United States National Herbarium,
1893-1937, and was instrumental in the establishment of the National Arboretum in 1927. More extensive biographical material can be found in Science, Volume 85, 280-281.
The Medicinal Plants Survey was undertaken in 1897 by Coville, Henry Hurd Rusby, and Valerie Havard to determine the distribution and abundance of medicinal plants
so that the most valuable might be cultivated. This series consists of completed Survey forms, some including correspondence; letters from Coville and Havard to Charles Louis
Pollard explaining the work; and a letterpress book of outgoing correspondence of Coville and Pollard concerning the Survey.
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7272, Frederick Vernon Coville Papers