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Louis Hermann Pammel papers

Identifier: RS 13/5/13

Scope and Content

The collection (1856-2011) contains Pammel’s speeches and publications, information regarding his research in botany, and documents relating to Iowa State College (University) and his personal life. The papers also contain correspondence with editors, other scientists, and faculty members and students of Iowa State, including George Washington Carver, J.C. Arthur, Charles E. Bessey, and Henry A. Wallace. In addition, the collection includes information regarding Pammel’s work with State Parks and his involvement in numerous professional and honor societies such as the Iowa Academy of Science, Phi Kappa Phi, and Gamma Sigma Delta.

Collection is arranged into series:

Series 1, Correspondence with individuals, 1883-1970, contains correspondence with a variety of individuals including botanists and other scientists, students, and Iowa State College (University) faculty members. The series also includes correspondence with George Washington Carver; appendix 1 is an index of the Pammel/Carver letters.

Series 2, Correspondence with Internationals, 1875-1992, consists of correspondence with people in other countries.

Series 3, Professional Correspondence, 1883-1930, includes correspondence regarding Pammel’s articles, speaking engagements, and professional opinions.

Series 4, Addresses and Publications, 1901-2011, contains articles written by and about Pammel; appendix 2 lists the articles written by Pammel.

Series 5, Iowa State College (University) Concerns, 1869-1930, consists of materials regarding various aspects of Iowa State College (University, including the Department of Botany, Herbarium, Graduate School, library, college hospital, memorial trees and markers, and the “Old Orchard”. Also included are interviews and correspondence regarding the early years of the college and papers related to Iowa State’s Semi-Centennial. In addition, the series also contains Pammel’s lecture and research notes and letters of tribute received after his retirement.

Series 6, Campus Professional Interests, 1889-1930, contains information regarding Pammel’s work with the United States Department of Agriculture, conservation, and Iowa’s State Parks. Also included are correspondence with legislatures and governors.

Series 7, Off Campus Professional Interests, 1906-1928, consists of correspondence, proceedings, and reports regarding the Iowa Conservation Association and the State Board of Conservation.

Series 8, Organizations, 1888-1928, includes correspondence with various professional organizations, such as the Iowa Academy of Science, Phi Kappa Phi, and Gamma Sigma Delta.

Series 9, Personal Correspondence and Papers, 1882-1931, consists of Pammel’s biographical information, including tributes, and personal correspondence, mostly regarding family matters.

Series 10, Scrapbooks, 1890-1930, contains scrapbooks regarding conservation, Iowa State College (University), botany, and Pammel’s family members. The books contain mostly news clippings.


  • Creation: 1856-2011

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


Louis H. Pammel (L.H.) was born in LaCrosse, Wisconsin in 1862. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin, being the first student to receive a Bachelor of Agriculture degree (1885) from that institution. He graduated with honors for his research of parasitic fungi, including downey mildew of millet. Pammel also received his M. S. (1889) in agriculture from the University of Wisconsin and his Ph. D. (1898) from Washington University. He obtained training under such distinguished professors as Dr. William Trelease, Professor in the Shaw School of Botany at Washington University; Dr. E. A. Birge, Professor of Zoology and a President of the University of Wisconsin; Dr. C. R. Van Hise, Professor of Chemistry and Minerology, also a University of Wisconsin President (1903-1918).

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, L. H. Pammel became an assistant (1885) to Dr. W. G. Farlow of Harvard University, who was in charge of cryptogamic botany. Later, he became an assistant (1885-1887) in botany at the Shaw School of Botany, Washington University. For two summers, he investigated the cotton root rot in Texas (1888 and 1889).

In February 1889, Pammel came to Iowa State College (University) as Professor of Botany (1889-1929), a position made vacant by the resignation of Dr. Byron Halsted (1884-1888). In addition to teaching botany, he taught courses in Landscape Architecture (1889-1890). Pammel was also the Iowa State College Experiment Station Botanist (1889-1922). During Pammel’s tenure, Iowa State became the first school in the United States to offer bacteriology courses to general students.

Pammel was also well liked and respected by his students, many of which considered him a great influence in their lives. Among these students was George Washington Carver. In 1891, Carver became the first African American to enroll at Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (Iowa State University). Pammel encouraged him to stay at Iowa State as a graduate student after he completed his bachelor's degree (1894). Over the next two years, as assistant botanist for the College Experiment Station, Carver quickly developed scientific skills in plant pathology and mycology, the branch of botany that deals with fungi. He published several articles on his work and gained national respect. Carver completed his master's degree (1896) and was invited by Booker T. Washington to join the faculty of Alabama's Tuskegee Institute. Pammel and Carver remained in close contact after Carver moved to Alabama.

Pammel conducted research in plant pathology and in weeds, which resulted in numerous publications, including A Manual of Poisonous Plants (1910), Weeds of the Farm and Garden (1911), and The Weed Flora of Iowa (1913, 1926). Other research activities included the anatomy of seeds and plants of the legume family. In systematic botany, he was interested in the trees and other flora of the country, and he made extensive collections of plants, which he gave to the college. For the United States Forest Service, he made a study of grazing conditions in the Uintah Mountains, and did work on grasses of plains region for the U. S. Department of Agriculture. Many honors were conferred upon Dr. Pammel.

Pammel was a member of numerous professional and honor societies, including the Botanical Society of America, the Ecological Society of America, the American Society of Bacteriology, the St. Louis Academy of Science, the Biological Society of Washington and the Sierra Club. He was twice elected President of the Iowa Academy of Science; was vice president of Section G. Botany, of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and fellow of the AAAS. Pammel was a member of international societies such as Deutsche Bot. Gesellschaft, and the British Ecological Society. He also served as local president of Sigma Xi and was for many years national secretary of Phi Kappa Phi, as well as national president. In 1924, he was president of the National Association of Cosmopolitan Clubs and at one time was secretary of Gamma Sigma Delta. He was active in the creation of Iowa’s state park law and served as the first president of the Iowa State Board of Conservation.

Pammel married Augusta Emmel of Chicago, Illinois in 1887 and they had six children, five daughters and one son. He died in 1931 on a transcontinental train traveling through Nevada.


38 Linear Feet (77 document boxes, 7 half-document boxes, 1 map case folder, and one archives tube)


The collection is organized into ten series:

Series 1, Correspondence with Individuals, 1883-1970 (alphabetical)

Series 2, Correspondence with Internationals, undated (alphabetical)

Series 3, Professional Correspondence, 1883-1930 (subject)

Series 4, Addresses and Publications, 1901-2011 (alphabetical)

Series 5, Iowa State College (University) Concerns, 1869-1930 (alphabetical)

Series 6, Professional Interests, 1889-1930 (alphabetical)

Series 7, Off Campus Professional Interests, 1906-1928 (alphabetical)

Series 8, Organizations, 1888-1928 (arranged by organization)

Series 9, Personal Correspondence and Papers, 1882-1931, undated (alphabetical)

Series 10, Scrapbooks, 1890-1930 (alphabetical)


A selection of materials from this collection have been digitized, and have been made available online. Please see the Electronic Resources section for links to digitized materials relating to the following subjects:

1) materials from the Ada Hayden collection pertaining to Louis Pammel.

2) materials from multiple collections, including the Pammel collection, used in the Iowa State Parks exhibit.

3) materials from Series 1, correspondence with William T. Hornaday.

Items in related collections

RS 13/5. Iowa State University. Department of Botany records, 1886-2014 RS 13/5/55. Ada Hayden papers, 1864-2007, undated

Collection Files

Conservation Note

A number of items from this collection received conservation treatment before digitization. Please see the conservation treatment report for more details:

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

RS 13/5/13. Louis Hermann Pammel papers, 1856-2011
June 15, 2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Repository

403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames Iowa 50011-2102 United States
(515) 294-6672