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Inventory to the papers of Alice Eastwood at the California Academy of Sciences Library MSS.142
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Collection Details
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  • Biographical note
  • Chronology
  • Arrangement note
  • Conditions governing access
  • Preferred citation
  • Reproduction
  • Scope and Contents note

  • Title: Eastwood (Alice) papers
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS.142
    Repository: California Academy of Sciences Archives
    55 Music Concourse Drive
    Golden Gate Park
    San Francisco, CA 94118
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 23.09 Cubic feet 80 boxes (19 manuscript boxes, 40 clamshell boxes, 4 extra large manuscript boxes, 4 half-width manuscript boxes, 3 flat oversized archives boxes, 1 photo album box, and 9 index boxes), 3 half-oversize folders in Manuscript Flat Files
    Date: 1859-1981
    Abstract: The Alice Eastwood Collection is comprised of materials donated to the California Academy of Sciences. It contains her memoirs, diaries, field notes, and correspondence, among other items.
    Language of materials: Materials are in English.
    Creator: Eastwood, Alice, 1859-1953

    Biographical note

    Alice Eastwood was born to Colin Skinner Eastwood and Eliza Jane Gowdey Eastwood on January 19, 1859, in Toronto Canada. The family moved to Denver, Colorado in 1873 and Alice Eastwood went on to graduate as valedictorian from Shawa Convent Catholic High School in 1879. For the next ten years, Eastwood would teach at her alma mater, forgoing a college education. Using Grey’s Manual and the Flora of Colorado, Alice Eastwood would use this time to teach herself botany, going on various collecting trips during her vacations.
    In 1891, after reviewing Eastwood’s collection in Denver, Mary Katharine Brandegee, Curator of the Botany Department at the California Academy of Sciences, invited Eastwood to assist in the Academy’s Herbarium. This would be the beginning of Alice Eastwood’s long and fruitful career at the Academy of Sciences. The following year, Alice Eastwood would become joint Curator of the Botany Department at the Academy, alongside Mary Katharine Brandegee. Brandegee’s retirement in 1894 resulted in Alice Eastwood becoming the sole Curator and Head of the Botany Department at the Academy. Eastwood completed many trips at this time and collected and discovered a number of plants on the California coast.
    Against conventional practices of the time, Eastwood segregated type specimens from the main collection. This would prove to be an ingenious practice after the San Francisco 1906 earthquake and fire. After the earthquake, Eastwood went to the Academy and found the building deeply damaged. With the help of Robert Porter, Alice Eastwood was able to save 1,497 type specimens from the impending fire that was devouring the city and that was already burning the neighboring building. The fire would go on to destroy most of the Academy’s collections.
    Afterwards, Alice Eastwood traveled and studied throughout Europe and the United States. She eventually returned to the Academy as Curator of the Botany Department. She dedicated herself to rebuilding the collection and her expeditions were numerous, including collecting trips to Alaska, Arizona, Baja California, British Columbia, Utah, and all throughout California. By 1942, the collection numbered over 300,000 plant specimens, nearly three times the number destroyed in 1906 earthquake and fire.
    After 50 years of service to the Academy, Eastwood retired in 1950 at the age of ninety. Her inexhaustible career included the publication of over 300 articles, numerous books, and eight plant species of which were named after her. Along with John Thomas Howell, she founded the journal, Leaflets of Western Botany, served as editor for Zoe, helped to form the American Fuchsia Society, and worked to save a redwood grove in Humboldt County (which was named Alice Eastwood Memorial Grove). And so, at the age 94, on October 30, 1953, Alice Eastwood died in San Francisco, ending a prolific career at the California Academy of Sciences.
    Sources Consulted: The Memoirs of Alice Eastwood, Earthquake (Chapter VI).
    "A Partial Gazateer and Chronology of Alice Eastwood's Botanical Explorations," by Carol Wilson.
    “Miss Alice Eastwood,” American Fuchsia Society, Vol. 25, No. 12, December 1, 1953.
    Alice Eastwood biography, Harvard University Herbaria. http://www.huh.harvard.edu/libraries/archives/EASTWOOD.html


    Eastwood Chronology

    1859 Born in Toronto, Ontario, to Colin Skinner Eastwood and Eliza Jane Gowdey Eastwood
    1879 Graduates as valedictorian from Shawa Convent Catholic High School
    1891 Moves to California as herbarium assistant to Mrs. Katherine Brandegee
    1892 Appointed Joint Curator of Botany (with Katherine Brandegee) at the California Academy of Sciences
    1895 Becomes Curator and Head of the Department of Botany
    1906 Saves 1,497 California Academy of Sciences botany specimens from the San Francisco fire
    1914 Expedition to Alaska
    1917 Elected life member of California Academy of Sciences
    1942 Elected Honorary member of California Academy of Sciences
    1950 Serves as Honorary President of the VIIth International Botanical Congress in Sweden
    1953 Dies in San Francisco

    Arrangement note

    • Series 1: Biographical Materials
    • Series 2: Alice Eastwood Writings
    • Series 3: Correspondence
    • Series 4: Alice Eastwood Biographies
    • Series 5: Herbarium and Hall of Botany
    • Series 6: Commemorative Materials and Awards
    • Series 7: News clippings and Articles about Alice Eastwood
    • Series 8: Eastwoodiana Scrapbooks
    • Series 9: Ephemera and Realia
    • Series 10: Photographic Material

    Conditions governing access

    Access is unrestricted.

    Preferred citation

    Alice Eastwood papers, Special Collections, California Academy of Sciences Library, San Francisco, CA


    All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.

    Scope and Contents note

    The collection consists of papers and materials relating to Alice Eastwood’s life, primarily during her time as curator for the California Academy of Sciences. The collection includes memoirs, diaries, correspondence and field notes as well as materials relating to her collecting expeditions. Numerous personal objects and photographs are also housed in the collection as are publication written by and about Alice Eastwood.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Botany--Pictorial works
    California Academy of Sciences--Buildings
    California Academy of Sciences--Curators
    California Academy of Sciences--Employees
    California Academy of Sciences--Expeditions
    California Academy of Sciences--History
    California Academy of Sciences--Scientists
    Field notes
    San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, Calif., 1906.
    Wild flowers
    Women in science