William C. Cusick was born in Illinois in 1842 and emigrated to Oregon while a youth. He had a modest "collegiate" education and worked as a teacher for a time. Most of his adult life he spent as a rancher in the area of the Wallowa Mountains. He began botanical collecting and distribution sometime in the 1870s, encouraged by Harvard’s Asa Gray. Most of his plants came from the area of the Wallowa and Blue Mountains and were arranged in two successive herbariums, one of which he transferred to the University of Oregon, while the second went to Washington State University.
Encouraged by C. V. Piper, Cusick’s second herbarium project included extensive and exhaustive botanical surveys of the area in the two mountain ranges. Unlike his earlier efforts, this second phase did not include large distributions of plants. Cusick died in 1922.
Cusick’s extant papers consist primarily of his field books, which doubled as the catalog for the second herbarium, and the draft list of the floral surveys he conducted about 1910. A few surviving items of correspondence are included.
Restrictions on Access :
This collection is open for research use.Preferred Citation :
[Item Description]. Cage 316, William Conklin Cusick Papers. Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman, WA.
The Cusick papers are arranged to content, with the meager extant correspondence segregated. The field books follow Cusick’s numbering system.
Custodial History :
The papers of William C. Cusick, 1842-1922, of Union County, Oregon, were acquired by the Washington State University Herbarium about 1921, along with Cusick’s Second HerbariumAcquisition Information :
The materials in this collection of botanical documents were transferred to the Washington State University Library in 1975 from the university’s Ownbey Herbarium.Bibliography :
Cusick’s life and botanical experiences are discussed in Irwin F. Lange, Pioneer Botanists of the Pacific Northwest, Oregon Historical Quarterly, 57 (1956) 115-118 and Harold St. John, William Conklin Cusick, Rhodora, 25 (1923) 101-105.
Additional Botanical manuscripts in MASC may be found in the following collections:
Cage 318 Beattie, Rolla Kent Papers, 1899-1956
Cage 53 Botanical papers, 1881-1973
Cage 317 Piper, Charles Vancouver Papers, 1888-1926
Cage 319 St. John, Harold Papers, 1912-1957
Cage 315 Suksdorf, Wilhelm Nicolaus Papers, 1867-1935
Detailed Description of the Collection
The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.
A List, From Memory, of the Plants to be Seen Near at Hand in Crossing the Canyon of the Immaha Near its Source, 1911
An Annotated List of the Flowering Plants and Ferns of Northeastern Oregon: Wallawa, Union, Baker and Umatilla Counties, 1909
This collection is indexed under the following headings in the online catalog. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.