Paul Carpenter Standley, botanist, was born in Avalon, Missouri, on March 21, 1884. He attended Drury College in Springfield, Missouri, then transferred to New Mexico State College, where he received his bachelor's and master's degrees in 1907 and 1909. While at New Mexico State College, Standley was an assistant in botany and an assistant botanist at the Agricultural Experiment Station.
On June 1, 1909, Standley accepted an appointment as an assistant curator, Division of Plants, United States National Museum. He became an associate curator of the Division on May 15, 1923. In May 1928, Standley resigned from the USNM to work for the Field Museum of Natural History (Chicago), where he stayed until his retirement in 1950. Standley continued with his field work until 1956. He moved to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in 1957, remaining there until his death on June 2, 1963.
Standley's main interests of study were the flora of tropical North America and Andean South America. Among his some 260 publications, Standley wrote Trees and Shrubs of Mexico and Flora of Costa Rica.
Standley collaborated with Frederick Vernon Coville, honorary curator, United States National Herbarium, to complete the volumes on the plants of Alaska for the Harriman series, which were never published. This work and related correspondence are in this collection.