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John and Sara (Plummer) Lemmon papers


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Diaries and field books


Personal papers


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John and Sara (Plummer) Lemmon papers, 1863-1911 | University and Jepson Herbaria Archives, University of California, Berkeley

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Collection Overview

Title: John and Sara (Plummer) Lemmon papers, 1863-1911Add to your cart.View associated digital content.

Primary Creator: Lemmon, J. G. (John Gill) (1832-1908)

Other Creators: Lemmon, Sara Plummer (1836-1923)

Extent: 10.0 Linear Feet

Arrangement: Arranged in six series: Series 1, Correspondence; Series 2, Diaries and field books; Series 3, Writings; Series 4, Personal papers; Series 5, Photographs.

Subjects: Andersonville Prison, Botanists - California, Botany - Arizona, Botany - California, Northern, Conifers, Diaries, Lemmon, J. G. (John Gill), United States - History - Civil War, 1861-1865 - Imprisonment, Women botanists

Forms of Material: Botanists - California - Archives, Correspondence, Photographs, United States - History - Civil War, 1861-1865 - Personal narratives

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Lemmon Papers document the personal and professional lives of California botanists John Gill and Sara Plummer Lemmon. Additionally the papers contain materials relating to John G. Lemmon's service in the Civil War and Sara Plummer Lemmon's work with the Red Cross and efforts to make the California Poppy the state flower. The papers contain correspondence, diaries and notebooks, published and unpublished writings, personal papers and memorabilia, and photographs. The collection is rich in notes and photographs collected by Lemmon for his research on the Conifers of California and the west.

Collection Historical Note

John Gill Lemmon, pioneer western botanist and Civil War veteran, was born in Lima, Michigan on January 2, 1832. He attended public schools and taught for eight years before enrolling at the University of Michigan which he briefly attending before enlisting in the 4th Michigan Cavalry on June 8, 1862.  His unit was involved in 36 engagements in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia, including the circuit of Atlanta in August 1865. He was captured near Atlanta in August 1864 and held at Andersonville and Florence prisons.  He was freed on March 1, 1865.  In October 1866 he moved to Sierraville, California to live with his mother and brothers and recuperate from his incarceration.  He taught school from 1870 to 1874 and developed an avid interest in botany while collecting and identifying local plants in Sierraville and the surrounding areas. Plants he could not identify were sent to Henry Bolander at the California Academy of Sciences, who then put Lemmon in contact with Asa Gray at Harvard University as many of the plants found by Lemmon were previously unknown.  He became well known as botanist of western North America and with his wife, Sara Plummer Lemmon, developed the Lemmon Herbarium, now part of the University and Jepson Herbaria at the University of California, Berkeley.

Sara Plummer, botanist and artist, was born in New Gloucester, Maine, on September 3, 1836. She attended college in Worcester, Massachusetts and at Cooper Union in New York City. She served as a hospital nurse during the Civil War.  In 1869, she moved to Santa Barbara for health reasons and opened a book and stationery shop that became the public library for the town. She was active in the community and the development of the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum and gave lectures on natural history.

John and Sara met when John was visiting Santa Barbara in 1876 on a botanical collecting expedition. He moved to Oakland in 1877 and they corresponded frequently, leading to their marriage in 1880. They established the Lemmon Herbarium on Telegraph Avenue and continued to botanize together, exploring California and Arizona in the 1880s. Their "botanical wedding trip" to Tucson in 1881 led to the discovery of many new Arizonan plants.  John Lemmon served as the state botanist for the California State Board of Forestry from 1888 to 1892 and Sara assisted with his work by painting illustrations of conifers. Sara led the movement to have the California Poppy established as the state flower, which became official in a bill signed by Governor George Pardee in 1903.

John Gill Lemmon passed away on Oakland on November 24, 1908 in Oakland.  Sara Plummer Lemmon passed away on January 15, 1923 in Stockton. Their herbarium was donated to the University of California at Berkeley.

Subject/Index Terms

Andersonville Prison
Botanists - California
Botany - Arizona
Botany - California, Northern
Lemmon, J. G. (John Gill)
United States - History - Civil War, 1861-1865 - Imprisonment
Women botanists

Administrative Information

Repository: University and Jepson Herbaria Archives, University of California, Berkeley

Access Restrictions: Collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions: Copyright has not been assigned to the University and Jepson Herbaria Archives. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the University and Jepson Herbaria Archives as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the publisher.

Preferred Citation: John and Sara (Plummer) Lemmon Papers, University and Jepson Herbaria Archives, University of California, Berkeley.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Correspondence, 1864-1911],
[Series 2: Diaries and field books, 1872-1906],
[Series 3: Writings, 1863-1906],
[Series 4: Personal papers, 1864-1905],
[Series 5: Photographs, 1895-1902, undated],

Series 2: Diaries and field books, 1872-1906Add to your cart.
Diaries and field books contain scientific observations, field trip reports, lists of expenses, plant lists, and diary entries. Includes lists of plants collected by J. G. Lemmon and determined by Asa Gray, Henry Bolander, and Albert Kellogg and diaries from trips to Arizona in 1880 and the World's Fair in New Orleans, 1884.
Box 18Add to your cart.
Folder 38: Flora of the Great Valley, 1872-1874Add to your cart.
Index to California Flora. Low-land. Collected 1872-1874 by J. G. Lemmon. Determined and named by Prof. H. N. Bolander, Dr. A. Kellogg, and H. G. Bloomer. Note: please use photocopy instead of original.
Folder 39: Flora of the Great Basin, 1870sAdd to your cart.
Index to duplicate book of the flora of the Great Basin of Nevada. Collected 1872-187? by J. G. Lemmon, Sierra Valley. Determined by Asa Gray, Harvard University.
Folder 40: Notes of a botanical trip to Pyramid Lake, 1875Add to your cart.
Folder 41: Science notes, 1876-1878Add to your cart.
Scientific observations. Sierra Valley, Calif.
Folder 42: J. G. Lemmon Diary, 1878Add to your cart.
Trip diaries.
Folder 43: List of collections of plants from John G. Lemmon and Sara A. Plummer, 1879 April 20 to June 1Add to your cart.
Folder 44: List of Arizona ferns sent to D. C. Eaton, collected J. G. Lemmon, 1880 February-MayAdd to your cart.
Folder 45: Arizona plants determined by Asa Gray, 1880Add to your cart.
Folder 46: Pacific Coast flowers and ferns, 1880Add to your cart.
Advertisement for specimens collected by J. G. Lemmon.
Folder 47: Plants (with notes) submitted for determination (no. 1), 1880Add to your cart.
Submitted to Hooker and Gray, December 28, 1880.
Folder 48: Notebook, 1880Add to your cart.
Includes notes on trip to Arizona.
Folder 49: Composition book, 1880sAdd to your cart.
Box 19Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Plants (with notes) submitted for determination (no. 2), 1881-1884Add to your cart.
Arizona plants. Includes a legal size photocopy of the original (filed in oversize flat storage; please use photocopy to limit handling.
Folder 2: Medical plant business, 1882-1883Add to your cart.
Folder 3: List of appointees for National Floral Emblem, circa 1884Add to your cart.
Folder 4: List of Grasses sent to Vasey, circa 1884Add to your cart.
Folder 5: J. G. Lemmon Memoranda, 1884Add to your cart.
Includes Lemmon's visit to the World's Fair in New Orleans.
Folder 6: Page from Lemmon Memoranda Book, 1884 November 20Add to your cart.
Folder 7: J. G. Lemmon Memoranda, 1885Add to your cart.
Includes trip to Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, Maine and New York to attend the Convention of Agriculturalists.
Folder 8: Plantae Lemmonianai Obispoanae, 1886-1887Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Memoranda, 1887-1888Add to your cart.
Folder 10: Forestry reports from J. G. Lemmon to parties named within, 1888Add to your cart.
Folder 11: Forestry notes, 1889Add to your cart.
Folder 12: Memoranda of J. G. Lemmon, 1889Add to your cart.
Includes notes from a trip the capitol of California, Sacramento.
Folder 13: J. G. Lemmon Diary, 1890Add to your cart.
Folder 14: New species discovered or renamed by J. G. Lemmon, 1899Add to your cart.
Folder 15: Mexican notes, 1905-1906Add to your cart.
Folder 16: Southern Cal. Flora, undatedAdd to your cart.
Flora of Southern California. Includes a photocopy of the original; please use photocopy to limit handling.
Folder 17: Memoranda: plants to be examined, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 18: Tree list, undatedAdd to your cart.
Contains an alphabetical list of addresses.
Folder 19: Notebook, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 20: Checklist of North American plants used as an index to the Lemmon HerbariumAdd to your cart.
Folder 21: Orders for sets of dried California plants, undatedAdd to your cart.
Scrapbook of published articles.

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Correspondence, 1864-1911],
[Series 2: Diaries and field books, 1872-1906],
[Series 3: Writings, 1863-1906],
[Series 4: Personal papers, 1864-1905],
[Series 5: Photographs, 1895-1902, undated],

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