Willis Linn Jepson papers, 1867-1946
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Brief Description: This collection documents the professional and personal life of Willis Linn Jepson, noted California botanist and professor of botany at the University of California, Berkeley. The collection contains correspondence, field notebooks, writings and notes, lectures, subject files, teaching records, personal papers, and photographs.  His extensive correspondence represents a cross-section of botanical activities in the western United States from 1890 to 1940.  His detailed field notebooks contain observations on plants, places and people. His papers also contains material related to his publications on the flora of California as well as his writings and lectures on a wide variety of topics. His work with the Save the Redwoods League, Street Trees, and Tan Oak is well documented in his subject files.  His photographs document California landscapes in the first half of the century as well as his travels to Europe and Palestine.  Additionally, the collection contains a small amount of personal papers and files from his teaching career at the University of California at Berkeley.
Held at:
University and Jepson Herbaria Archives, University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley ,  University and Jepson Herbaria
1001 Valley Life Sciences
Berkeley, CA 94720 2465
Email: akasameyer [at] berkeley.edu
Created by: Jepson, Willis Linn (1867-1946)
Volume: 43.0 Linear Feet

Arranged in 8 Series:

Series 1: Correspondence, 1887-1946; Series 2: Field notebooks, 1886-1945; Series 3: Writings and research notes; Series 4: Lectures, 1898-1942; Series 5: Subject files; Series 6: Seed lists and exchanges, 1893-1916; Series 7: Teaching files, 1897-1936; Series 8: Personal papers, 1898-1944.

Biographical Note for Jepson, Willis Linn (1867-1946) :

Willis Linn Jepson, University of California professor of Botany and noted expert on the flora of California, was born on August 19, 1867 near Vacaville, California. He grew up on his family's Solano County ranch, Little Oak, where he developed an early interest in flowering plants.  He attended the Normal and Scientific School in Vacaville and at the age of 12 was inspired by a visit to the California Academy of Sciences where he met noted botanists Alfred Kellogg and Edward Lee Greene. He went on to attend the University of California and study botany with Greene. Jepson received his undergraduate degree in 1889 and his Ph.D. in 1899. He began working for the Botany department in 1891 as an instructor and retired in 1937 as Professor of Botany.

Jepson devoted his life to the study of the California flora, as evidenced by his botanical collections (25,761 numbered plant specimens) and his authoritative works on the subject, A manual of the flowering plants of California (1923-1925) and his multi-volume Flora of California (1909-1940, with an additional volume published posthumously by Lauramay Dempster in 1979).  He collected primarily in California, but also made expeditions to Alaska, Europe, and Palestine.  He carefully documented his collecting activities with detailed field notes which contain not only data on specific plants but observations on habitats, landscapes, people, places, industries, and historical events. He photographed many of the plants and areas he visited and collected photographs of California trees and plants from others.

In addition to his research on the California flora, he was interested in botanical history, redwoods, conservation, forestry, and street trees, and among other subjects. He gave lectures to a variety of groups on and off campus and published over 200 articles. He helped establish the California Botanical Society, the Sierra Club, the Save-the-Redwoods league, and the journal Madroño.

He was a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Science, Royal Society of Arts, and the American Geographical Society, and a member of the American Genetic Association, American Society of Plant Taxonomists, Botanical Society of America, Society of Foresters, Washington Academy of Sciences, Western Society of Naturalists, Commonwealth Club of California, Phi Beta Kappa, and Sigma Xi.

He passed away in Berkeley on November 7, 1946.  His will established the Jepson Herbarium and Library at the University of California at Berkeley.


August 19, 1867                    Born near Vacaville, California.

1889                                    Graduated from the University of California, Berkeley

1891                                    Hired as Botany Assistant, began graduate study in Botany

1893-1900                            Editor of Erythea                 

1894                                    Hired as Instructor in Botany

1899                                    Expedition to Alaska

1899                                    Received Ph. D. in Botany. Thesis: Flora of Western Middle California; promoted to Assistant Professor in Botany

1901                                    Flora of western middle California first published

1905-1906                            Sabbatical to Europe including Kew Gardens

1910                                    Silva of California published

1911                                    Promoted to Associate Professor

1912                                    Trip to Barstow

1913-1915                            Founder and President of the California Botanical Society

1916-1933                          Founder and editor of Madrono

1918                                    Save-the-Redwoods league founded

1918                                    Promoted to Professor

1919-1929                            President of the California Botanical Society

1923-1925                            A manual of the flowering plants of California published

1926                                    Trip to Palestine and Syria

1937                                    Retires from the University after breaking ankle doing field work

November 7, 1946                Passed away in Berkeley, California.

For more information, see this article written by Dr. Richard G. Beidleman: http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/history/biog/jepson/jepson_the_botany_man.html

Access Restrictions: Collection is open for research.
Subject Index
Botanists - California
Botany - California
Forests and forestry
Jepson, Willis Linn, 1867-1946 - Archives
Jepson Herbarium
Trees in cities
University of California, Berkeley. - Dept. of Botany
Vacaville (Calif.)
Genres/Forms of Material
Faculty papers
Field notes
Languages of Materials
English [eng]
Rights/Use Restrictions: Material may be protected by copyright.