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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 The papers contain correspondence, diaries and notebooks, published and unpublished writings, personal papers and memorabilia, and photographs.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 4: Personal papers, 1864-1905Add to your cart.
Memorabilia, clippings, correspondence, articles about the Lemmons, and other biographical material.
Box 24Add to your cart.
Folder 23: Unidentified confederate soldier's letter found by John Lemmon near Atlanta, 1860 FebruaryAdd to your cart.
Sent to John's sister Deal August 1, 1864.
Folder 25: Golden Songster and Memorandum Book, 1874Add to your cart.
Contains an advertisement for Sara A. Plummer's Library Bookstore in Santa Barbara.
Folder 26: Newspaper clippings from the Republican regarding John Gill Lemmon, 1879Add to your cart.
Folder 27: Letter of Introduction for J. G. Lemmon from Ed Vanderless to Calderwood, 1880 April 20Add to your cart.
Folder 28: Clipping: The World's Exposition, The Times-Democrat, 1885 March 12Add to your cart.
Folder 29: The North, Central and South American Exposition, 24 August 1885Add to your cart.
Folder 30: Reports from worthy representatives at the late World's Exposition at New Orleans, 1886 April 17Add to your cart.
Folder 31: Clipping: Presentation by Eli S. Denison and Poem  by Professor J. G. Lemmon, 1887 October 26Add to your cart.
Folder 32: Clipping: Earth cut deep. Wonders of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado. "Debris" piled up ten thousand feet high-Professor J. G. Lemmon's Paper, from The Oakland Enquirer, 1888 MarchAdd to your cart.
Folder 33: Appointment of J. G. Lemmon as Botanist of the State of California Board of Forestry and appointment of Sara lemmon as Artist, 1888 March 1Add to your cart.
Folder 34: Clipping: The governor at Del Mar, from The San Diego Union, 1888 May 2Add to your cart.
Includes Professor Lemmon's toast to the guest of the evening and Mrs. J. G. Lemmon's "Address of Welcome" to the governor.
Folder 35: Clipping: An interesting meeting of the Ebell Society, Enquirer, 1890 August 30Add to your cart.
Includes description of Sara Lemmon's lecture on the evergreen forest of the Pacific slope, given at the meeting.
Folder 36: Clipping: Third biennial report of the State Board of Forestry, 1899 February 6Add to your cart.
Folder 37: Typed copy of article on John G. Lemmon and Sequoia, Pacific Rural Press, 2 May 1891Add to your cart.
Folder 38: Railroad pass for Mr. and Mrs. J. G. Lemmon, Nevada and California Railroad, 31 May 1893Add to your cart.
Folder 39: Clipping: Botany their hobby. A scientific husband and wife. Researches of Mr. and Mrs. Lemmon, unknown source, 1894Add to your cart.
Folder 40: Railroad passes for J. G. Lemmon and wife, Southern Pacific Company, 30 June 1896Add to your cart.
Folder 41: Bill for sidewalk repairs, Pacific Grove, 16 July 1896Add to your cart.
Folder 42: Bill for camping wagon advertisement, 8 May 1897Add to your cart.
Folder 44: Pacific Coast Women's Press Association brochure and program, 1897 March 22Add to your cart.
Includes notice of talk by Sara Lemmon on "Camp-life and study in the woods."
Folder 43: Address on Lincoln Day at Oakland High School, 1897 May 28Add to your cart.
Folder 45: Report of Chaplain, by John Lemmon, 1898-1904Add to your cart.
Folder 46: Clipping: Old times are recalled. Prof. and Mrs. Lemmon visit Santa Barbara after many years' absence, 8 June 1905Add to your cart.
Folder 47: Clipping: Botanists explore Mexico, Mexican Herald, 27 October 1905Add to your cart.
Folder 24: Letter of introduction for Miss S. A. Plummer from George Atwood to Dr. Fred Lees., 4 June 1869Add to your cart.
Folder 48: Biographical materialAdd to your cart.
Folder 49: Calling cardsAdd to your cart.
Folder 50: Formulary of Medicine, Relic of Florence Prison, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 51: Land offer in Tehama County by M. W. Woodard, Oakland, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 52: Clipping: The Lemmon reception, Berkeley Daily Advocate, v.20 no.398Add to your cart.
Folder 53: Letter of Introduction for Sara Plummer from W. G. Farlow to Mrs. A. L. Davis, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 54: Clippings, 1872-1903Add to your cart.

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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