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Charles Christopher Parry papers

Identifier: MS-0290

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content

The Parry collection (1841-1943) includes correspondence, notebooks, clippings, and papers. Many of the manuscripts and notebooks contain field notes from botanical expeditions, including notes on San Domingo, the Rocky Mountains, Mexico, and the Wasatch Mountains in the Utah Territory. There are two scrapbooks containing newspaper clippings one dealing with the Mexican boundary surveys and the Santo Domingo Commission, the other containing clippings from the Chicago Evening Journal in 1863 64 dealing with the exploration of the Far West. The collection also includes photocopies from the accession records of the ISU library listing books from Parry's personal collection in the ISU library, Iowa State professor L. H. Pammel's notes on Parry, and papers dealing with the cataloging of the Iowa State collection in 1942 43. Correspondents include Rosa Smith Eigenmann, W. H. Emory, George Engelmann, Asa Gray, Edwin James, Albert Kellogg, D. D. Owen, S. B. Parish, Emily R. Parry, A. Randall, John Torrey, and Sereno Watson. The manuscript volumes in the Parry collection were formerly classified, with Library of Congress call numbers placed on the bound volumes. Call numbers and volume sizes have been included in the description of individual series to aid in their identification on the shelf.


  • 1841-1943

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


Charles Christopher Parry, botanist and physician, was born in Admington, Gloucestershire, England, on August 28, 1823. When he was nine years old, his family moved from England to Washington County, New York. Parry earned an A.B. degree from Union College in 1842, then attended Columbia College as a graduate student, falling under the influence there of the botanist John Torrey. Earning an M.D. degree from Columbia in 1846, Parry settled in Davenport, Iowa, the same year and established a medical practice. Botanical studies rather than medicine proved to be his main interest, however. In 1847 Parry participated in a survey of central Iowa under Lieutenant John Morehead. Parry also served under Dr. David Dale Owen in 1848 in the geological survey of Wisconsin and Minnesota. Parry’s findings in Iowa from the previous season were included in the report of the Owen survey, published in 1852. In 1849 he was appointed botanist to the United States‑Mexican boundary survey and worked in this capacity for three years. For the rest of his life, Parry spent his summers in botanical expeditions in western states like Colorado, Utah, and California, on his own or as botanist to an organized survey. He was the first person to hold the position of botanist in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, spending the years 1869‑1871 at the Smithsonian Institution. Parry published his botanical papers in a wide variety of scientific journals and newspapers. In 1853 he married Sarah M. Dalzell, who died in 1858. The next year he married Emily R. Preston, who survived him. Parry died in his home in Davenport on February 20, 1890. Parry's herbarium and many of his personal papers and books were purchased by Iowa State University in 1894.


4.42 Linear Feet


The collection is organized into six series:

Series 1, Correspondence, 1846-1931

Series 2, Manuscripts, 1848-1878, circa 1910

Series 3, Notebooks, 1841-1880

Series 4, Clippings, 1853-circa 1880

Series 5, Miscellaneous, 1859-1894, undated

Series 6, Card File, 1943

Series 7, Articles, 2012


Digital reproductions of a selection of materials from the Charles Christopher Parry papers are available electronically. Please see the Electronic Resources section for a link.

Collection Files

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

  • Botanists Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
MS-0290. Charles Christopher Parry papers, 1841-1943
December 7, 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