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Guide to the Cornelius H. Muller Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Processing Information
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material
  • Separated Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Cornelius H. Muller papers
    Dates: 1931-1996
    Collection number: MS-01
    Creator: Muller, Cornelius H.
    Collection Size: 30.75 linear feet 8 record cartons, 4 photo boxes, 12 oversize folders
    Repository: Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration (University of California, Santa Barbara). C. H. Muller Library
    Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9615
    Abstract: Correspondence, publications, field notes, research notes, and photographs relating to the career of plant ecologist C.H. Muller.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English German Spanish


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration, UC Santa Barbara. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Cheadle Center as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    Cornelius H. Muller papers, MS-01, Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration. University of California, Santa Barbara.

    Acquisition Information

    Donated in two gifts in 2005 and 2007 by Robert Muller.

    Processing Information

    Arrangement and description of this collection was funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

    Biography / Administrative History

    Cornelius H. Muller or Neil, as he was known to his colleagues and family, had a long and distinguished career as a plant ecologist and plant taxonomist. After graduating from University of Illinois in 1938 with a PhD in Botany, Muller worked for the Illinois Natural History Survey for one year and then for the USDA in various capacities from 1938-1945. Summers were usually spent on plant collecting trips to Mexico, the Southwest, and the southern United States. His work focused on vegetation studies in Texas and Mexico and most prominently on oaks. Muller married Katherine Kinsel, also a botanist, who directed the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden from 1950-1973. She was a partner with her husband in much of his vegetation studies and oak collecting trips, sharing in the creation of the extensive field notes found in this collection. He and Katherine also collaborated on a publication about Jean Louis Berlandier's plant collecting in Mexico in the 1820s. Their son, Robert, is a plant ecologist and is also a correspondent in these papers.
    From 1938 to 1942 Muller worked for the USDA Division of Plant Exploration and Introduction, naming and classifying plant specimens. As a result of this work, he published A Revision of the Genus Lycopersicon and The Central American Species of Quercus. During World War II, he worked for the Bureau of Plant Industry on the Special Guayule Research Project on a series of experiments on root development. His results were published in the USDA Technical Bulletin 923 entitled Root Development and Ecological Relations of Guayule. In 1945 he began teaching at UCSB (then known as Santa Barbara College). He helped develop the botany major in 1947 and taught various courses in botany and ecology until 1976 when he retired from UCSB. He continued in a teaching capacity as Adjunct Professor of Botany at University of Texas from 1974 to 1992.
    At UCSB, Muller founded the Herbarium in the early 1950s and was Curator from 1956 to 1964. In addition to his teaching duties, during his years at UCSB Muller conducted numerous research studies, funded partly by four National Science Foundation grants, on allelopathic mechanisms in California plant communities and systematics and evolution of the species Quercus. He published over 110 articles and books, peer reviewed numerous articles and proposals, and supervised and worked with over 15 graduate students. He published two monographs: The Central American Species of Quercus and The Oaks of Texas, as well as provided treatments for the genus in Arizona Flora, Flora of Panama, Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas, and Flora North America.
    Throughout his career, Muller took collecting trips to Costa Rica, Cedros Island off of Baja California, Texas, Southern California, and Mexico, and went twice to Europe in the 1950s to study oak specimens at various herbaria. In the course of his years at UCSB, Muller deposited over 15,000 oak specimens in the UCSB herbarium, including 90 type specimens. He was named Faculty Research Lecturer in 1957, the third faculty member to receive the title, honoring distinguished research achievement both locally and abroad. In 1975 Muller was honored for his work in ecology by being named Eminent Ecologist for 1975, a prestigious award given by the Ecological Society of America. He was also honored for his work in oak systematics by having two plants named after him: Quercus cornelius-mulleri and Quercus mulleri.
    Muller passed away in Santa Barbara on January 26, 1997 at the age of 88.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    This collection documents the botanical research and teaching career of Cornelius Muller. The bulk of the material relates to Muller's research on oaks, chemical ecology, or allelopathy, and plant classification and vegetation studies of plants from the southwestern United States and Latin America, resulting in over 110 publications over the course of his long career. The collection includes correspondence, field notes, research notes, experimental data, unpublished drafts and published articles, photographs, drawings, maps, and artifacts, such as lab and field equipment.
    The bulk of the papers fall into the Research and Publications Series. Field notes describe plants and vegetation that Muller and his wife Katherine collected and observed on collecting trips to Mexico, Texas, the southwestern and southeastern United States, Cuba, and in California. The Guayule subseries contains data on experiments conducted at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden in the 1940s, additional notes, and the original drawings for the publication Root Development and Ecological Relations of Guayule. The Quercus subseries includes correspondence, notes, data on individual species, and notes on Muller's trips to European herbaria. Experimental Plant Ecology subseries consists of research data on allelopathy, inhibition, and plant toxins of California native plants compiled by Muller, his colleague Walter Muller, and various graduate students from 1961-1966, that resulted in at least six publications. Included are gas chromatography data, bioassays, and field notes for various experiments conducted in the Santa Ynez Valley region and elsewhere in Santa Barbara. The Publications subseries contains drafts, notes, and correspondence for some of Muller's publications, as well as unpublished writings. (A complete set of Muller's publications are catalogued in the library.) A separate photograph subseries complements the collecting trips and various publications.


    The papers are organized into six series as follows. Series 1. Correspondence, 1936-1996. Arrangement is alphabetical by correspondent and then chronological within each folder. Subject files are arranged alphabetically by correspondent. Series 2. Research and Publications; Series 3. Faculty and Professional Papers; Series 4. Personal Papers; Series 5. Maps; Series 6 Artifacts.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    University of California, Santa Barbara
    Muller, Cornelius H.
    Botanists--North America
    Plant ecology--California--Santa Barbara County

    Related Material

    A small subset of photocopies of these papers constitute a series of bound volumes in the Museum of Systematics institutional files (RG-01) that were compiled by former Herbarium curator Wayne Ferren. They deal predominantly with Muller's work on oaks and include correspondence, field notes, and grant proposals. Information on Muller's role as founder and Curator of the UCSB Herbarium can be found in the series Herbarium Correspondence. Correspondence and other files relating to Muller's work on the Special Guayule Research Project are also located in the archives of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

    Separated Material

    Muller's books, reprint collection, and some bound maps have been added to the library collection. They are accessible through the library catalog. Several photograph prints and slides have been removed from correspondence folders and are housed together with Muller's other photographs in a separate photograph collection, part of series II.