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Ynes Mexia collection, 1918-1966

Collection Overview

Title: Ynes Mexia collection, 1918-1966

Creator: Mexia, Ynes (1870-1938)

Extent: 2.5 Linear Feet. More info below.

Arrangement: Arranged in three series: Series 1: Field books; Series 2: Papers; Series 3: Photographs.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Ynes Mexia Collection contains field books, writings, correspondence, and photographs from Ynes Mexia, botanist and explorer, as well as material about Mexia and the thousands of plant specimens she collected and distributed to Herbaria around the world. Much of the material was gathered by Nina Floy (Bracie) Bracelin, who handled the bulk of the distribution of Mexia's plant specimens as well as her estate after her death in 1938.

Biographical Note

Botanical collector and explorer Ynes Enriquetta Julietta Mexia was born on May 24, 1870, in Georgetown, D. C to General Enrique A. and Sarah R. (Wilmer) Mexia. She spent much of her childhood in Limestone County, Texas.  She attended private schools in Philadelphia and Ontario, California and St. Joseph’s College in Maryland. Later in life she took classes at the University of California, Berkeley.

She married Herman E. Laue in 1898, and after his death in 1904 she married Augustin A. de Reygados in Mexico City in 1908. They later divorced and she returned to using her maiden name.

After taking a Flowering Plants class with LeRoy Abrams at the Hopkins Marine Station in 1925, Mexia accompanied Stanford botanist Roxana Ferris on a botanical collecting trip to western Mexico. Over the next thirteen years she made three additional expeditions to Mexico as well as visiting Alaska and South America, visiting many remote areas. She collected for the University of California and the Untied States Department of Agriculture and visited many remote areas, collecting 8800 numbers and approximately 145,000 individual specimens, 500 of which were found to be new species. Her specimens were often prepared by her assistant, Mrs. N. Floy Bracelin at the University of California, Berkeley and sets were distributed widely to herbaria in the United States and Western Europe.  In addition to the specimens, she wrote numerous articles detailed her adventures exploring the Amazon and other remote areas.

She was a member of the California Botanical Society, the Sierra Club, the Audubon Association, of the Pacific, the Sociedad Geographica de Lima, Peru, a life member of the California Academy of Sciences,

In 1938 she became ill while on a collecting expedition in Oaxaca, Mexico and reurned home to San Francisco. Her health did not improve and she died of lung cancer on July 12, 1938 in Berkeley, California.

Administrative Information

Alternate Extent Statement: 2 cartons and 121 bound volumes.

Access Restrictions: Collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions: Material may be protected by copyright.

Preferred Citation: Ynes Mexia Collection, University and Jepson Herbaria Archives, University of California, Berkeley.

Box and Folder Listing

Series 1: Field Notes, 1925-1938Add to your cart.
Ynes Mexia's 112 field books document her botanical collecting activities in Mexico, South America, Alaska, and Michigan. Field books are arranged primarily chronologically, with a separate run of "extra" field books found at the end.
Item 1: Plant Collections, Western Mexico, 15 September - 19 November, 1925Add to your cart.

Contains collections #1-490.

Trip to Sinaloa with Roxana S. Ferris from Dudley Herbarium at Stanford University.

Item 2: Western Mexico Field Books, September 1926 - April 1927Add to your cart.

Seven field books from Mexia's seven month collecting trip to Western Mexico, partially financed by William Setchell.

Notebooks contain collections #500-1952. Collections are from the Mexican states of Sinaloa, Nayarit, and Jalisco.

Item 3: Alaska and California Collections, 9 June 1928 - 13 January 1930Add to your cart.

This field book contains collection data from Mexia's 1928 trip to Mt. McKinley National Park which represented the first general collection of the park flora. Also in this notebook are collections from California from 1929-1930. Inserted in the notebook is a letter from Fred J. Spach, Anchorage, Alaska, July 19, 1928, a folded newspaper map of Alaska, and a handwritten list of plants of Mrs. Simmons, Kodiak Island, Alaska, 1928.

List of Contents from title page of field book:

Alaska 1928

June 9-Sept. 12


Some Expenses

Partial Diary and Itinerary Accounts

Alaskan Birds

California Plant Collections


February 15, 1929-January 13, 1930

Various localities (these specimens were sent to a few institutions (collected in small quantities)

Iris photo list

Item 4: Northern and Central Mexico Field Book, 6 May - 1 September 1929Add to your cart.

Contains collections #2500-2772.

Collections are from the following states: Chihuahua, Puebla, Mexico, and Hidalgo. This expedition was led by Mr. E. L. Furlong, Department of Paleontology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.

Item 5: Brazil and Peru Field Books, November 1929 - March 1932Add to your cart.

49 field books containing collections #4001-6517.  Collections are from Brazil, Rio de Janiero, Vicosa and Diamantina, state of Minas Geraes; Amazon and other river courses in states of Para and Amazonas; Transadean Peru, upper Amazon and Santiago river valleys, and Departamento de Loreto. Mexia was accompanied for a short time on this trip by Agnes M. Chase, Division of Agrostology, United States Department of Agriculture.

For more information about this expedition, see the following publications in the Ynes Mexia Biography file at the University and Jepson Herbaria Archives:

Bracelin, Mr. H. P. (1935). Itinerary of Ynes Mexia in South America. Madrono 3(4), p. 174-176.

Mexia, Ynes. (February 1933). Three Thousand Miles up the Amazon. Sierra Club Bulletin, 88.

Item 6: Ecuador Field Books, September 1934 -September 1935Add to your cart.
24 field books containing collections #6551-7750. Collections are from the coastal plains and eastern Amazonian slope of the Andes and the  northern highlands and Columbia border. This expedition was sponsored by the Bureau of Plant Introduction and Exploration, United States Department of Agriculture to search for palms, cinchonas, and soil-binding plants as well as to document the flora of this area.
Item 7: UC Expedition to the Andes Field Books, October 1935 - January 1936Add to your cart.
2 field books containing collections #7751-7850. Collections are from Peru, Bolivia, north central Argentina and Chile and cover the Andean highlands. Mexia made this collections as part of the University of California Botanical Garden expedition led by T. H. Goodspeed.
Item 8: Peru, Chile, Argentina and Ecuador Field Books, January 1936 - January 1937Add to your cart.

13 field books containing collections #7751-7850. Collections are from southern Chile, Straits of Magellan, Tierra del Fuego; Peru, Cuzco, Machu Pichu, Cerro del Pasco; Ecuador, Esmeraldas.

1 field book (#8351-8400) was missing at the time of cataloging (12/10/09).

Item 9: Michigan Field Books, July 1937 - August 1937Add to your cart.
2 field books containing collections #8501-8600.
Item 10: Southwestern Mexico Field Books, October 1937 - May 1938Add to your cart.
12 field books containing collections #8701-9300. Collections are from the stats of Oaxaca and Guerrero.
Item 11: Extra and Incomplete Field Books, 1931-1938Add to your cart.
These books contain collections 5502A-9111A, with many gaps in numbering. Collections are from Brazil, Ecuador, Columbia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Mexico.
Series 2: Papers, 1925-1966Add to your cart.
Correspondence both to and from Mexia as well as to and from N. Floy Bracelin, travel information, manuscripts, biographical information, collection lists, and financial information. Also includes biographies written about Ynes Mexia and her will and death certificate. Much of this information was compiled by N. Floy Bracelin during her work with Mexia and her plant collections.
Box 2Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Correspondence: A-B, 1926-1937Add to your cart.

Anderson, Paula

Armitage, H. M.

Babcock, E. B.

Bailey, L. H.

Bartram, Mr.

Bessey, Ernst A.

Blomken, Henri

Borja, Ulpiano

Botaniska Instiutionen Uppsala

Bryant, Amy

Bryant, H. C.

Folder 2: Correspondence: Bailey, Vernon, 1931-1938Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Correspondence: Bassler, Harvey (American Museum of Natural History), 1934-1949Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Correspondence: Bracelin, Mrs. N. Floy, 1934Add to your cart.
Folder 5: Correspondence: Brazil, 1932-1937Add to your cart.
Folder 6: Correspondence: C-D, 1932-1939Add to your cart.

California  Botanical Society

Chaney, Ralph W.

Cooper Ornithological Society

de Goodall, C. W. B.

Folder 7: Correspondence: California Academy of Sciences, 1937Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Correspondence: F-G, 1935-1937Add to your cart.

Furlong, E.L.

Frye, T. C.

Gates, F. C.

Goodman, E.

Folder 9: Correspondence: Grinnell, Joseph, 1937Add to your cart.
Folder 10: Correspondence: H-J, 1935-1938Add to your cart.

Hungerford, H. B.

Jones, Katherine D.

Folder 11: Correspondence: L-N, 1933-1938Add to your cart.

Leading Women of America

Library of Congress

Loram, S.H.

McDonough, Dayle

Moffitt, James K.

Muller, Albert S.

National Geographic Society

Folder 12: Correspondence: P, 1932-1938Add to your cart.

Pan American Union

Perry, Elinor

Priestly, Herbert Ingram

Folder 13: Correspondence: Peru, 1936-1941Add to your cart.
Folder 14: Correspondence: R, 1930-1938Add to your cart.
Rolfs, Clarissa and Dr. P. H..
Folder 15: Correspondence: S-Z, 1930-1938Add to your cart.

San Francisco News

Sierra Club

Stanford University

Starbuck, Edwin D.

Stirling, M. W.

Thomas, R. H.

Walker, J. G.

Yoch, Florence

Young, William C.

Folder 16: Correspondence: Society of Women Geographers, 1931Add to your cart.
Folder 17: Correspondence: Steamship companies, 1929-1938Add to your cart.
Correspondence regarding transportation of Mexia and her plant collections.
Folder 18: Correspondence: USDA, 1936Add to your cart.
Folder 19: Letters of introduction and letters to Mexia, 1925-1931Add to your cart.
Folder 20: Unidentiified correspondence, 1931-1938Add to your cart.
Folder 21: Letters written by Ynes Mexia from Mexico, 1926Add to your cart.
Folder 22: Letters written by Ynes Mexia from Mexico, likely 1926Add to your cart.
Folder 23: Letters written by Ynes Mexia from Mexico, 1926-1927Add to your cart.
Folder 24: Letters written by Ynes Mexia from Mexico, 1927Add to your cart.
Folder 25: Letters written by Ynes Mexia from Mexico, 1927Add to your cart.
Folder 26: Letters written by Ynes Mexia from Mexico, 1927Add to your cart.
Folder 27: Letters written by Ynes Mexia from Mexico, 1927Add to your cart.
Folder 28: Letters written by Ynes Mexia from Mexico, 1927Add to your cart.
Folder 29: Originals of Mexia's Mexico letters, 1927-1926Add to your cart.
Folder 30: Bracelin correspondence with the American Historical Company, 1938-1939Add to your cart.
Correspondence regarding Mexia's entry in the Encyclopedia of Biography.
Folder 31: Bracelin correspondence with the Bancroft Library, 1954-1966Add to your cart.
Folder 32: Materials given to the Bancroft Library, 8 June 1966Add to your cart.
Folder 33: Bracelin correspondence regarding Blake Gardens, 1944-1947Add to your cart.
Folder 34: Bracelin correspondence with Dr. Donald H. Brand, 1953Add to your cart.
Regarding Mexia's itinerary.
Folder 35: Bracelin correspondence with Dr. Raymond Estep, 1949-1950Add to your cart.
Regarding the Mexia papers.
Folder 36: Bracelin correspondence regarding Amy and Adele Mexia, 1937-1951Add to your cart.
Correspondence between Adela and Amy Mexia, sisters of Ynes Mexia, Mrs. Frank (Nell D.) Haley, caretaker of Adele Mexia, and Mrs. H. P. Bracelin. Includes genealogical information about the Mexia family.
Folder 37: Bracelin correspondence regarding Mexia's collections, 1935-1941Add to your cart.
Folder 38: Bracelin correspondence regarding Mexia's furniture, 1961Add to your cart.
Folder 39: Taxpan, 1926Add to your cart.
Travel diary.
Folder 40: Itineraries, 1934-1935Add to your cart.
Folder 41: Itinerary information, 1929-1934Add to your cart.
Folder 42: MapsAdd to your cart.
Folder 43: Miscellaneous biographical informationAdd to your cart.
Notes on Mexia's plant specimens, obituaries, lecture notices,and itineraries.
Folder 44: Alaska collection list, 1928Add to your cart.
Folder 45: Correspondence from editors regarding submissions, 1927-1934Add to your cart.
Folder 46: Manuscripts: Vignettes of birds long flown, 1934Add to your cart.
Folder 47: Manuscripts: The Equator and the Antarctic, 1936Add to your cart.
Folder 48: Manuscripts: The FazendaAdd to your cart.
Folder 49: Manuscripts: Following the sun across South America, 1933Add to your cart.
Folder 50: Manuscripts: The legend of Leticia, 1932-1934Add to your cart.
Folder 51: Manuscripts: A living glimpse into the past, 1933Add to your cart.
Folder 52: Manuscripts: Ramphastidae, 1933Add to your cart.
Folder 53: Manuscripts: Report on fish-poisons of Ecuador, 1934-1935Add to your cart.
Folder 54: Manuscripts: Rio to ParaAdd to your cart.
Folder 55: Manuscripts: Three thousand miles up the Amazon, 1933Add to your cart.
Folder 56: Manuscripts: Through the Panama Canal, 1929Add to your cart.
Folder 57: Manuscripts: Up the Rio AmazonsAdd to your cart.
Folder 58: Manuscripts: Up the Amazon and over the Andes or crossing the South America from east to westAdd to your cart.
Folder 59: Reprints of Mexia's articles in the Gull, 1933-1938Add to your cart.
Folder 60: NotesAdd to your cart.
Folder 61: Business expense accountsAdd to your cart.
Folder 62: Specimen and account book, 1928-1939Add to your cart.
Folder 63: Common names given by Ynes Mexia on some of her Brazil-Peru collectionsAdd to your cart.
Folder 64: Anthropological artifacts collected by Ynex Mexia, 1929-1934Add to your cart.
Folder 65: South American botanical collections, 1929-1932Add to your cart.
Itinerary and collection numbers.
Folder 66: Lists of seeds sent to Washington, 1935Add to your cart.
Folder 67: List of determinations of Mexia plants at Museu Goeldi, BrazilAdd to your cart.
Folder 68: List of plant numbers at Museu Nacional, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 27 January 1937Add to your cart.
Folder 69: List of collections, EcuadorAdd to your cart.
Folder 70: Lists of identifications sent to VicosaAdd to your cart.
Folder 71: Nicotiana, April 1935Add to your cart.
Maps and notes.
Folder 72: Gifts to the University of California, Berkeley library, 1933-1935Add to your cart.
Folder 73: List of photographsAdd to your cart.
Folder 74: Duplicate lists of determinations from the expedition to the Andes, 1935Add to your cart.
Folder 75: List of Ecuador ferns collected by Mexia and determined by MaxonAdd to your cart.
Folder 76: Financial information, 1938Add to your cart.
Compiled by Bracelin after Mexia's death.
Folder 77: Will and death certificate, 1934-1938Add to your cart.
Folder 78: Estate (1 of 2), 1938-1949Add to your cart.
Folder 80: Accounts and plant sales, 1939-1940Add to your cart.
Folder 81: Itinerary of Ynes Mexia in South America, 1935Add to your cart.
Folder 82: Brief biogrophy of Mexia by Bracelin, likely 1938Add to your cart.
Folder 83: Mrs. Ynes Mexia by Bracelin, 18 February 1946Add to your cart.
Folder 84: Save the Redwoods League memorial, 1950-1951Add to your cart.
Series 3: Photographs, 1918-1926, undatedAdd to your cart.
Box 1Add to your cart.
Item 1: Photographs 1918-1920Add to your cart.
Photographs taken by Ynes Mexia, arranged on scrapbook pages.  Includes a few loose prints. Includes photographs of Botany Club trips, California Botanical Club trips, and photographs taken at Christmas time. Some prints labeled and dated.
Box 2Add to your cart.
Item 1: Photographs from Mexico, 1926Add to your cart.View associated digital content.

Photographs from Mexia's 1926 trip to Mexico. For more information about the trip, see Mexia's article "Botanical trails in old Mexico.-the lure of the unknown" published in Madrono v.1, September 29, 1929.

Captions from photographs:

1. Loading dugout canoes on the San Pedro River.

2. Away from the railroad, primitive conveyances are still in use.

3. Twins, Rita and Ramona, age 2 ½.

3 ½. Water is peddled from door to door in smaller towns.

4. Wattled and thatched hut of herdsman on the San Pedro River.

5. Misty palms along the riverbank.

6. The town water works at Tuxpan.

7. The “openwork” huts are eminently suited to the tropical climate.

8. The entrances to the “Palapar”

9. The younger palms show great arching fronds when the trunks are but a few feet high.

10. The ferryboat on the San Pedro, Tuxpan.

11. Bananas growing at Hacienda del Canejo.

12. The “Riverside Laundry” at Puerto Vallarta.

13. Puerto Vallarta and Bahio de Banderas from El Cerro de la Cruz.

14. On the way to Cruz de Vallarta.

15. The original “Donkey-engine” for snaking logs to market.

16. Pedro, his wife and eight of their ten children.

17. The sugar cane patch. An important source of food in Mexico.

18. The banana grove proved to be a wonderful sleeping place.

19. A little Mexican two year old.

20. The dugout canoe. These canoes are beautifully made and most seaworthy.

21. Ambrosio’s house at Quimixto. His wife, Margarita “assisted” me.

22. A home-made ladder.

23. The dry-dock

24. As I left Quimixto a number of white egrets perched on the point made a pretty sight.

25. Launching the canoe.

26. On the bay.

27. Looking down the valley of San Sebastian.

28. Señora Landeros and her daughters in the patio of their home.

29. The Spaniards builded for all time.

30. The little town is in the heart of the Sierra Madre.

31. La Bufa

32. The “ice-plant” of the Sierra Madre.

33. The old Mission Chapel at the Real Alto in the Sierra Madre

34. The alter of the Chapel. Note the carved beam ends.

35. The pulpit. The hand-hewn floor boards have lasted many years.

36. On the peak of the Bufa, above the tossing sea of silver clouds.

37. The “oldest inhabitant” of the Real Alto, over 90. (I generally had to refuse to take pictures of people as my films were limited, but when the poor family begged me to take their grandmother’s picture as possibly she would no have long to live, I had to do so, and here she is. I have sent them the prints.)

38. The tree-clad, up-flung peak.

39. The graceful “Encino Saucillo” or Willow-leafed Oak.

40. Magnificent Ash trees grow along the stream El Jaguey.

41. Old Spanish trunks of cedar, covered with horsehide.

42. The quaint old town of San Sebastian.

43. Old Indian idols dug up not far from San Sebastian.

44. Adios, Señora!

45. The noon-day rest on the way out.