16 containers. (8.5 linear feet of shelf space.) (56,500 items.)
Correspondence and other papers
regarding taxonomic investigations of Pacific Northwest plants, of which a
major part consists of approximately 50,000 notes and references to literature
on Northwest flora and historical and biographical aspects of Northwest botany.
Significant correspondents: C.E. Bessey, L.F. Henderson, Aven Nelson, C.V.
Piper, Harold St. John, W.N. Suksdorf, A.R. Sweetser.
Washington State University Libraries Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections
Funding for encoding this finding
aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the
Rolla Kent Beattie was born in Ohio in 1875. He began his botanical
career as a student of Charles Bessey at the University of Nebraska. He was an
Instructor, then Professor of Botany, at Washington State University from 1899
to 1912, after which he joined the United States Department of Agriculture
research staff at Washington, D. C. and remained there as a forest pathologist
until retirement in 1946. During his retirement, he traveled extensively and
began again the examinations of Northwest Flora which he had largely abandoned
In his earlier years, Beattie’s position was mainly that of a
collaborator of the more illustrious Charles Vancouver Piper. The work of the
two tended to become so intermingled that the respective contributions could
not be discerned. However, Beattie’s contribution appears to have been his
knowledge of herbaria and literature resources, while Piper had a greater
familiarity with field botany and theory. In later years, as Beattie began to
see himself as Piper’s successor, his approach continued to follow the line of
herbarium and library research. In fact, he took up the line suggested by the
"American Rule" school to a much greater degree than had Piper. During this
time Beattie amassed a vast compilation of notes on the development of
Northwest botany, in which he examined virtually every treatment of all
Northwest species from the initial "discovery," through any and all revisions.
He also collected much biographical material relative to the various botanists
concerned with Northwest Flora.
Beattie spent most of his retirement years collecting this material.
His death in 1960 in Bethesda, Maryland followed four years of failing
The papers of Rolla Kent Beattie consist of his correspondence
relative to Northwest botany and his compilation of notes and references to
literature on Northwest plants and botanists. Included in his letterbooks are
drafts of articles about the spread of introduced plants, as well as
considerable correspondence about plants sent to Washington State University by
the public for identification.
Use of the Collection
Restrictions on Access :
This collection is open for research use.
Preferred Citation :
[Item Description]. Cage
318, Rolla Kent Beattie
Papers. Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman, WA.
Beattie’s correspondence is arranged in chronological sequence. The
materials in his notes are divided into foldered materials, arranged in an
alphabetical sequence of biographical subjects, and a card file which contains
four parts. First, a section on Northwest flora, arranged according to a
standard botanical classification arrangement, with species ordered
alphabetically within each genus. A second section consists of biographical
information arranged alphabetically by the names of Northwest botanists. A
third section consists of extensive notes on David Douglas. Fourth is a partial
geographic index of Northwest plants, arranged according to region.
Custodial History :
The papers of R. Kent Beattie, 1875-1960, were donated to the
Washington State University Herbarium during the period from 1956 through 1960
by Mr. Beattie.
Acquisition Information :
The papers, along with those of four other Pacific Northwest
botanists, were donated to the Washington State Library in 1975 by the Marion
Ownbey Herbarium on the Washington State Campus.
Additional Reference Guides :
A print index to the correspondence can be found in:
Northwest botanical manuscripts : an indexed register of the
papers, 1867-1957, of Wilhelm Nikolaus Suksdorf, William Conklin Cusick,
Charles Vancouver Piper, Rolla Kent Beattie, and Harold St. John in the
Washington State University Library. Washington State University
Library. Pullman : The University, 1976.
Related Materials :
Additional Botanical manuscripts in MASC may be found in the following