Smithsonian Institution Archives

S. Stillman Berry Papers, 1880-1984

Collection ID:
Berry, S. Stillman (Samuel Stillman), 1887-1984
Physical Description:
14.43 cu. ft. (14 record storage boxes) (1 12x17 box)
Smithsonian Institution Archives

This finding aid was digitized with funds generously provided by the Smithsonian Institution Women's Committee.
The Archives would like to thank Paul F. Allen, the executor of the Berry Estate for selecting the Smithsonian Institution Archives as home for the Berry papers; Phillip J. Livoni, a close associate of Drs. Allen and Berry, for his help in transferring the papers to the Archives; and, last but not least, Clyde F. E. Roper, National Museum of Natural History, for bringing us together with Dr. Allen.

Descriptive Entry
Descriptive Entry
This collection documents the different aspects of S. Stillman Berry's long, varied life, illustrating his experiences and work as a student at Harvard and Stanford Universities, as a malacologist, as an avocational and commercial horticulturist, and as an employee of the Scripps Institution for Biological Research. Berry's papers are also a primary source of information about his family life and many friendships. The collection is somewhat weak, however, in its coverage of Berry's involvement in the administration of the Winnecook Ranch.
The papers of S. Stillman Berry primarily consist of correspondence. Although the letters as a whole date from the 1880s to Berry's death in 1984, most of his family correspondence, which is comprised of letters written by Berry and his parents, is concentrated between 1900 and 1916, while the bulk of his scientific, horticultural, and personal correspondence is from 1920 to 1965. Also spread throughout the collection are financial records such as bills, receipts, and check stubs, certificates verifying the donation of specimens, import permits, manuscripts of articles and book reviews, and a small number of photographs. Of particular interest are series consisting of Berry's college and organizational records and memorabilia and of his diaries, which describe in minute detail his daily activities from 1911-1925 and 1931-1940.
Berry's family correspondence, personal correspondence, college and organizational records and memorabilia, and diaries are the main sources of information about his private life. Together they document Berry's childhood and adolescence; family relationships, particularly with his parents, other relatives in Unity, Maine, and cousins who lived in the Berry household in Redlands; friendships with classmates and professors at Stanford and Harvard Universities and with college students and acquaintances who visited him in Redlands or helped care for his house and garden; social activities; and political views. Two particularly well-documented events in Berry's life are his 1904-1905 excursion to Europe with his mother, which is described in Evelyn Crie Berry's almost daily letters to her husband and in Berry's diary of the trip, and the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, the subject of photographs, newspaper clippings, and family and personal correspondence. The most continuous records of Berry's domestic and social ties are his correspondence with Evelyn Crie Berry, which is especially voluminous during the years Berry attended college, and his five-year diaries. Unfortunately, both Berry's family correspondence and the diary entries cease in 1940, the year of Evelyn Crie Berry's death. Conversely, although Berry's personal correspondence extends from 1896 to 1984, copies of most outgoing and many incoming letters are not included in this collection.
Scientific correspondence and related materials constitute the primary record of Berry's activities as a malacologist, including the manner in which he acquired the materials for his research projects; his participation in scientific organizations; his interest in taxonomy and nomenclature; and his production and distribution of Leaflets in Malacology. His work for the Scripps Institution for Biological Research, as a Librarian and Research Assistant and as a Research Zoologist, is fully documented in a small, comprehensive series consisting primarily of correspondence, a large portion of which is with his supervisors, assistants, and other associates at the Institution. Berry's letters to his mother after 1909, the year he entered the Master's program in Zoology at Harvard, as well as his diary entries also occasionally refer to his scientific interests, work, and acquaintances.
Berry's scientific interest in hybridization and the origins and operation of his commercial nursery are documented by his horticultural correspondence and related materials. The diaries also indicate the bulbs and plants which he shipped and received, the customers who visited his garden, and his daily gardening chores. It should be noted, however, that there are no records in the collection explicitly relating to Berry's horticultural activities beyond the early 1950s.
As previously indicated, information regarding the Winnecook Ranch Company is generally fragmentary and scattered throughout the collection. The earliest years of the Ranch are described in Ralph Berry's correspondence, which frequently concerns the purchase of livestock, wool sales, ranch finances, and his business associates and employees at Winnecook. Stillman Berry's correspondence with Evelyn Crie Berry as well as his diary entries after his father's death in 1911 illustrate the beginning of his own involvement in the Ranch, including the steps which he and his mother took to gain a controlling interest in the Company. The only relatively cohesive group of documents about the Ranch from the 1940s to the 1970s are Berry's letters with officers of the Winnecook Ranch Company, particularly with Elwyn Dole and Thayer Stevens. Infrequent references are also made in the collection to the other business ventures of the Berry family, including Ralph Berry's investment in the Cuban-American Land Company, Evelyn Crie Berry's ownership of property in California, and Stillman Berry's leasing of Winnecook land to oil speculators.
The papers of S. Stillman Berry in the Smithsonian Institution Archives can be supplemented by records, specimens, monographs, reprints, and notes in other repositories and research institutions. All of Berry's malacological collections except for the cephalopod mollusks, including specimens, published manuscripts, photographs, and original drawings, were donated to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, as were about 40,000 reprints on shelled mollusks from Berry's private library; his collection of cephalopod specimens were given to the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution. Berry's collection of horticultural books and reprints and the notes from his own hybridization experiments are now in the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; prepared specimens of California plants were presented to the herbarium at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. The correspondence of Berry's relatives in Unity, Maine, and documentation about the history and families of the town in general are housed with the Unity Historical Society, while Berry's genealogical library is with the University of Redlands. Finally, at some future date the Montana Historical Society in Helena, Montana, will receive custody of all records generated by the Winnecook Ranch Company since its incorporation in 1906, including minutes of board meetings, correspondence files, financial records, and maps.

Historical Note
Historical Note
S. Stillman Berry was the son of Ralph and Evelyn Crie Berry, settlers from Unity, Maine, who founded the Winnecook Ranch, Montana, in 1880. Berry was born in Unity on 16 March 1887 during one of his mother's trips back to Maine. Much of Berry's adolescence was spent moving across the United States, from Minneapolis, Phoenix, Pasadena, Oakland, to San Francisco, with occasional stops at Winnecook and Unity, as a result of his mother's efforts to find the most hospitable environment for his fragile health. In 1897 he moved with Evelyn Crie Berry and two cousins, Charlotte and Evelyn Kelley, to Redlands, California. Although Berry became a permanent resident of Redlands, he also maintained his close ties with relatives in Maine and the ranch in Montana for the remainder of his life.
Another of Berry's lifelong concerns was his work in malacology. His scientific pursuits apparently began at an early age, as illustrated by letters from Berry dating from 1903 onward in the records of the Division of Mollusks in the Smithsonian Archives. Addressed to William Dall, then Honorary Curator of the Division, the earliest letters reveal a ready familiarity with Latin species names and a marked attention to accuracy in the identification of specimens. His repeated requests for the National Museum's publications indicate that he was already busily accumulating books and reprints for what was to become a substantial private research collection consisting of over forty thousand titles. Berry's first article, "Note on a New Variety of Cerithidea sacrata Gld., from San Diego, Cal.," was published in Nautilus in 1906. In that same year he entered Stanford University as an undergraduate majoring in zoology; he received his Bachelor's in 1909, his Master's from Harvard in 1910, and his Doctorate, again from Stanford, in 1913. The published version of his doctoral dissertation, Cephalopoda, is still considered the definitive study of Pacific cephalopods.
In January 1913 Berry began working at the Scripps Institution for Biological Research in La Jolla, California, having been recommended for employment to the Director of the Institution, William Emerson Ritter, by his advisor at Stanford, Charles Henry Gilbert. As Librarian and Research Assistant, Berry supervised and delegated work in the library and arranged for the acquisition of scientific papers and monographs to transform the collection into a significant research resource. Anxious to return to his scientific work and to spend more time in Redlands, he relinquished his library responsibilities in 1916 and instead worked for the Institution as a Non-Resident Research Zoologist. For the next two years Berry studied the Institution's cephalopod specimens and produced a series of reports partially funded by the Institution on the chitons of North America. Berry's position at the Scripps Institution, which came to an end in 1918, was the last professional post he held in an academic or research institution.
In spite of his independent status, Berry's scientific output over the next three-quarters of a century was impressive by any standard. In all, he established 401 names for mollusk taxa and published 209 articles, most of which were on chitons, cephalopods, and land snails. Many of Berry's articles first appeared in his own scientific journal, Leaflets in Malacology, which he began producing in 1946 to ensure the speedy publication of his scientific findings. He eventually issued 26 editions of Leaflets, the last appearing in 1969. A large number of his papers were also delivered at meetings of the numerous scientific organizations to which he belonged. In recognition of his considerable contributions to the field, Berry was elected the only Honorary Life President of the American Malacological Union, the only lifetime President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the only Honorary Member of the Cephalopod International Advisory Council. He additionally served as Research Associate of the Smithsonian Institution and as Life Fellow of the San Diego Society of Natural History.
Soon after completing college Berry also became involved in horticulture, apparently under the encouragement of Dr. Walter Kenrick Fisher, one of his former zoology professors at Stanford. Berry's horticultural work was an extension of his general interest in genetics and evolution. Although he chose to concentrate primarily on the hybridization of irises and daffodils, Berry also cultivated peonies, pansies, gladioli, and various fruit-bearing trees and plants. In an effort to develop or adapt varieties of flowers, plants, and trees compatible with the climate and conditions of California, he procured bulbs and plants from horticulturists throughout the United States as well as in New Zealand, Australia, the Middle East, China, India, and South Africa. He also supplied new and rare varieties to prominent horticulturists of his time, including William Mohr, Grace Sturtevant, the Sass Brothers, Jeannette Dean, and F. X. Schreiner, and published an unknown number of articles and reviews of gardening books. While Berry's horticultural business, established in the mid-1920s, was initially intended to support further efforts in hybridization, it eventually became a welcome source of income during the Depression. The abrupt cessation of his business correspondence in the late 1940s suggests that horticulture ceased to be a business at that time and once again became a hobby.
Although Berry had intermittently lived at the Winnecook Ranch for most of his early life, his business association with the Winnecook Ranch Company began in earnest in 1911, with the death of his father. In that year he was voted to the Board of Directors, and in 1917 he was elected President of the Company, an office he filled until his death in 1984. For most of his life he spent the summer of every year in Montana overseeing affairs at the ranch.
For more data about S. Stillman Berry's life, see Series 9, which consists of biographical articles, most of which were published shortly after his death, a bibliography of his works, a list of his zoological taxa, and some information regarding the founding and early history of Winnecook Ranch. As part of its Oral History Project, the Smithsonian Institution Archives also has transcripts and tapes from a series of interviews conducted with Berry in 1980 about his scientific work and colleagues.

Finding aid prepared by Smithsonian Institution Archives

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Prefered Citation
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7335, S. Stillman Berry Papers

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Keywords table of terms and types.
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Berry, S. Stillman (Samuel Stillman), 1887-1984 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scripps Institution for Biological Research Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
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Winnecook Ranch Company Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, Calif., 1906 Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
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