Guide to Charles Russell Orcutt Papers MS 5

Finding aid prepared by Jennifer Vanoni
San Diego History Center Document Collection
1649 El Prado, Suite 3
San Diego, CA, 92101
May 31, 2013

Title: Charles Russell Orcutt Papers
Identifier/Call Number: MS 5
Contributing Institution: San Diego History Center Document Collection
Language of Material: English
Physical Description: 2.5 Linear feet (5 boxes)
Date: 1878-1952
Abstract: This collection contains materials related to Charles Russell Orcutt’s work in Jamaica, Haiti, Mexico and the American Southwest as well as his family history.
Language of Materials: Collection materials are in English.
creator: Orcutt, Charles Russell

Biographical / Historical Notes

Charles Russell Orcutt, born in Vermont in 1864, was a pioneer naturalist of the American Southwest. He was a resident of San Diego from 1879 until his death in 1929, but spent much of his time traveling and collecting botanical and zoological specimens for supply houses and research organizations such as the Smithsonian Institution. His travels took him throughout the American Southwest, Mexico and to the islands of the Caribbean, where he died. Self-educated, Orcutt was an entrepreneur and an editor of his own scientific journals, and made significant contributions to the fields of botany and malacology.

Scope and Content

This collection contains materials related to Charles Russell Orcutt’s work in Jamaica, Haiti, Mexico and the American Southwest as well as his family history. The materials consist of correspondence, journals, writings, research and field notes and personal items. Orcutt often reused paper from letters he had received, creating several instances of more than one piece of correspondence on a single sheet. Some correspondence is transcribed. The best collection of Orcutt materials extant, the collection chronicles the last few years of the naturalist’s life. The completeness and format of the correspondence in particular, provide an almost daily record of his activities during this period. The collection also includes volumes of Orcutt’s two major journals, the Jamaica Naturalist and the West American Scientist. There is genealogical information on the Orcutt family and materials regarding other family members, including his wife Olive Eddy Orcutt, a San Diego physician and the first woman M.D. graduated from the University of Michigan, his mother, and his children and grandchildren.


The collection is arranged by series:
Series I: Charles Russell Orcutt Professional Papers
Series II: Charles Russell Orcutt Family Papers

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Most of the papers including datebooks, journals and field notes are fragile and some have water stains. The more fragile pieces have been placed in protective sleeves or envelopes. (May 2013)

Preferred Citation

Charles Russell Orcutt Papers, MS 5, San Diego History Center Document Collection, San Diego, CA.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The San Diego History Center (SDHC) holds the copyright to any unpublished materials. SDHC Library regulations do apply.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Jennifer Vanoni on May 15, 2013.


Photographs were removed to the Photograph Department. See Collection #82:14189.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number 810606 and 831025A.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Bartram, Edwin B.
Ivec, Eunice Orcutt
Orcutt, Charles Eddy
Orcutt, Eliza
Orcutt, Heman
Orcutt, Mary
Orcutt, Olive Eddy
Vendryes, Henry
American Southwest
San Diego Society of Natural History
Smithsonian Institution
West Indies


Series I Charles Russell Orcutt Professional Papers

Box-folder 1:1

Journal – “Review of the Cactacae” Part 1, Vol. I Nos. 2-4, Vol. 2 Nos. 5-7 1897-1902

Box-folder 1:2

Journal – “Botany of Southern California” (with review) 1901, (1903)

Box-folder 1:3

Journal – “American Plants” Vol. I No. 6, Vol. 2, Vol. 3 (various pages of each) 1907-1910

Box-folder 1:4

Journal – “Orcutt’s Mexico” Vol. I No. 1 Aug 1913

Box-folder 1:5

Journal – “Molluscan World” Vol. I 1915

Box-folder 1:6

Journal – “Jamaican Naturalist” Vol. I Nos. 1-4, various loose pages, “The American Botanist with reference to “Jamaica Naturalist”, Notes. 1927-1928

Box-folder 1:7

Journal – “West American Scientist” Index to Volumes I, II, III and IV, Vol. XXIV No. 177 1884-88, 1928

Box-folder 1:8

Other writings – 1885, 1889, 1909, 1918


“Notes on the Mollusks of the Vicinity of San Diego, Cal., and Todos Santos Bay, Lower Cal.”
“The Oaks of San Diego”
“Helix Areolata”
“In Baja California”
“Impressions of Jamaica”
Box-folder 1:9

Research Notes (handwritten) -


“Mosses of Jamaica”
“Butterflies of Jamaica”
“Land Snails of Jam.”
“Shells of Jamaica (Terrestrial)
“Shells of Jamaica (Marine)
“Shells of Jamaica (Fresh Water)
“Notes on Cacti, Chiefly West Indian”
“Jamaican Phanerogams Collected by C.R. Orcutt”
“List of the Determinations of Jamaican Phanerogams Collected by C.R. Orcutt”
“Collections Made in the West Indies by Charles Russell Orcutt”
Box-folder 1:11

Journal Advertisement – “Science and Horticulture” 30 Oct 1892

Box-folder 2:1

Miscellaneous Specimen Notes

Box-folder 2:2

Miscellaneous Lists

Box-folder 3:1

Field Notes (Fragile, Unbound Notebook)

Box-folder 2:4

Fields Notes (Loose Pages)

Box-folder 2:5

Datebook/Diary 1927-1929

Box-folder 2:6

Correspondence – Smithsonian Institution, Re: Collecting 4 Feb 1927 - 8 Dec 1930

Box-folder 2:7

Correspondence – Re: Specimen and Order Information 1921-1929

Box-folder 2:8

Correspondence – Fr. De Laet, Belgium, Re: Specimens 1926-1928

Box-folder 3:1

Correspondence – Re: Requests for Journals 1926-1929

Box-folder 3:2

Correspondence – Miscellaneous Professional Correspondence 1895, 1922-29

Box-folder 3:3

Correspondence – Re: Travel and Introductions 1894-1928

Box-folder 3:4-5

Ephemera – Caribbean Islands

Box-folder 3:6

Ephemera – Mexico

Box-folder 3:7

Ephemera – Texas

Box-folder 3:8

Ephemera – Professional Associations

Box-folder 3:9

Miscellaneous Professional Notes

Box-folder 3:10

Newspaper Clippings

Box-folder 3:11


Box-folder 3:12

Letters to Henry Vendryes (not from Orcutt)

Box-folder 3:13

Writings of Edwin B. Bartram

Box-folder 3:14

Miscellaneous Addresses


Series II Charles Russell Orcutt Family Papers

Box-folder 4:1-5

Correspondence – To Olive Orcutt (Wife) from C.R. Orcutt 1922-1929

Box-folder 4:6

Correspondence – From Olive Orcutt to C.R. Orcutt 1922-1928

Box-folder 4:7-8

Correspondence – To & From Orcutt Children and Grandchildren

Box-folder 4:9

Correspondence – To & From C.R. Orcutt’s Parents

Box-folder 4:10

Correspondence – From Acquaintances

Box-folder 5:1

C.R. Orcutt Birth Certificate, Biography and Orcutt Geneology

Box-folder 5:2

C.R. Orcutt Death 1929

Box-folder 5:3

San Diego Society of Natural History Library Donation 1922-1929

Box-folder 5:4

Eliza Orcutt (Mother)

Box-folder 5:5

Olive Eddy Orcutt (Wife)

Box-folder 5:6

Charles Eddy Orcutt (Son) – Writings and Short Stories 1930-1950


Listing of “Saturday Evening Post” Articles
“The Army Worm”
“The Army Worm Turns”
“Andrada’s Jewel Case” (x2)
“Super Champ vs Super Challenger”
“The Mongolian Mastoid”
“The Grizzly and the Rat”
“Something About Cossacks”
“Even a Cat”
Box-folder 5:8

Mary Orcutt (Daughter)

Box-folder 5:9

Eunice Orcutt Ivec (Daughter)

Box-folder 5:10

Heman Orcutt (Son)