National Anthropological Archives

Guide to the Edward Palmer papers, 1869-1920


Collection ID:
Palmer, Edward, 1829-1911
Safford, William Edwin, 1859-1926
Archer, William Andrew
Physical Description:
3.5 Linear feet
The collection includes not only Palmer's own material but also that of William E. Safford, William Andrew Archer, Joseph Nelson Rose, William Ralph Maxon, and Frederick Vernon Coville that concern Palmer. The collection was in the custody of the Department of Botany of the National Museum of Natural History before it was transferred to the National Anthropological Archives. Other than the biographical material, the subject matter is largely botanical and concerns collecting activities in Mexico, Arizona, California, Utah, Texas, and Idaho.

Scope and Contents

Scope and Contents
The Edward Palmer papers contains material largely of Palmer, including correspondence, 1870-1920; journal notes, 1869-1910; field notes, 1890-1907; numerical list of Palmer's specimens, some 1913. The collection also contains material of William Andrew Archer, including card index of plants and their uses; common plant name index; bibliography cards and records of works consulted; Spanish-English dictionary (cards); as well as material of William E. Safford, including manuscript of "Edward Palmer: Botanical Explorer"; miscellaneous material and drafts relating to the biography. Other material in the collection includes miscellaneous working material of Safford and Archer and photographs of botanical specimens from several collections "received from the Ball estate."

Biographical / Historical

Biographical / Historical
Edward Palmer (1831-1911) was an English-born United States Army physician, naturalist, and collector for the Smithsonian and several other institutions. He specialized in botany and anthropology.


NAA Staff
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The history of the collection is not completely clear, but it appears, at least in part, to have been brought together in the work of William E. Safford on a biography of Palmer and the work of William Andrew Archer in ethnobotany. The collection transferred from the Department of Botany, National Museum of Natural History, to the National Anthropological Archives in 1981. Added to the collection were materials sent by Robert Bye, of the University of Colorado, in 1981.
Processing Information
This digital finding aid was created from two previous NAA records: a MARC catalog record, from which the overview/administrative information was drawn, and an analog inventory of the collection contents, which has been inputed as the contents/container listing. Omissions and errors in the legacy inventory and catalog record have in most cases been fixed, but due to time contraints minor inconsistencies (such as the absence of dates from most items) have not been remedied.
Processed by NAA Staff. Catalog record created 1994. Inventory last updated by Ann R. Hunt in 2003.
Digital finding aid compiled and encoded by Katherine Madison, March 2017.

Using the Collection

Conditions Governing Access
The Edward Palmer papers are open for research.
Access to the Edward Palmer papers requires an appointment.
Conditions Governing Use
Contact the repository for terms of use.
Preferred Citation
Edward Palmer papers, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution


Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
American Indians -- Ethnobotany Cultural Context Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Language and languages -- Documentation Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ethnobotany Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
American Indian -- Ethnobotany Cultural Context Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

National Anthropological Archives
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