These papers are only a segment of Berlandier's papers which were purchased from Berlandier's widow by Lt. Darius Nash Couch in 1853. The Smithsonian Institution received Berlandier's meteorological records, mineral collections, and natural history specimens and manuscripts. The remainder of the papers were sold by Couch.
Between 1855 and 1886, various persons connected with the Smithsonian Institution used these papers, particularly Berlandier's zoological and meteorological data, for research and editing. Their notations, abstracts, and other materials are part of this record unit. Included are C. B. R. Kennerly, who translated portions of Berlandier's zoological manuscripts; James Henry Coffin, who reduced the meteorological observation data that Joseph Henry intended to publish; and Walter L. Nicholson and Cleveland Abbe, both of whom attempted to edit the works of Berlandier and Coffin, but were unable to complete the project.
These papers include Berlandier's correspondence; handwritten manuscripts on comparative anatomy, birds, botany, fishes, invertebrates, mammals, meteorology, reptiles and amphibians; four volumes on zoology; a geographical journal; astronomical, barometrical, cyanometrical, and meteorological data; air temperature, rainfall, and underground temperature data; sketches and watercolor paintings of birds, fishes, invertebrates, mammals, reptiles and amphibians; photographs of some of the watercolor paintings; a handwritten manuscript on Indian mummies; Memorias de la Comision de Limites a los ordenes del General Manuel Mier V Teran, co-authored by Berlandier and General Mier; handwritten manuscripts collected by Berlandier, including a Spanish-Latin dictionary on medicinal plants; and catalogs kept by Berlandier of his manuscripts and scientific collections sent to Europe or kept by him. Also included are Walter L. Nicholson correspondence; drawings of Berlandier's physician and pharmacy office at Matamoros; maps; lists of American medical officials stationed at Fort Brown, Texas, 1846-1851, and 1869; James Henry Coffin's abstracts of Berlandier's meteorological observation data as arranged by Nicholson; printed materials collected by Berlandier and Nicholson; translations of Berlandier's meteorological manuscripts by Cleveland Abbe, Coffin, and Nicholson; translations of portions of Berlandier zoological manuscripts by C. B. R. Kennerly; a catalog of Berlandier's manuscripts printed by the Smithsonian Institution in 1853; and notes concerning the Berlandier manuscripts at the Library of Congress and the United States National Museum Library.
Berlandier's manuscripts were written mostly in French, with some written in Spanish and Latin.