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Inventory to the papers of Ynes Mexia at the California Academy of Sciences
MSS.326  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical note
  • Scope and content
  • Conditions Governing Access

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Mexia (Ynes) photographs
    Date: 1870-1938
    Collection number: MSS.326
    Repository: California Academy of Sciences, Special Collections
    55 Music Concourse Drive
    Golden Gate Park
    San Francisco, CA 94118
    Languages: Materials are in English.
    Physical Description: 2.63 Cubic feet 5 archives boxes, 2 flat archives boxes, 2 photograph boxes
    Abstract: The collection consists mostly of photographs taken by Ynes Mexia throughout her lifetime. The collection includes photographs, negatives, memoirs, correspondence, photo lists, photo notes, and field notes. The collection also includes numerous photo albums and Mexia's plant press.
    Stack Location: AR7/I/2-AR7/I/2 and PR6/E/3
    Creator: Mexia, Ynes , 1870-1938

    Biographical note

    Ynes Mexia, botanist, was born May 24, 1870 to General Enrique A. Mexia and Sarah R. Wilmer Mexia. Accounts vary on the place of her birth: some say Washington, D.C. and some say Limestone County, Texas. Historians agree that her father was a representative at the Mexican consulate in Washington, and that in 1871 the family moved to Limestone County on a land grant that is today Mexia, Texas. Very little is known of Mexia's early life. She attended private school in both Ontario, Canada and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She attended college at St. Joseph's College in Maryland.
    In 1921, she enrolled in botany classes at the University of California, Berkeley. In July of 1925, at the age of 55, Mexia wrote to Alice Eastwood, Curator of Botany at the California Academy of Sciences, informing Eastwood that she was about to accompany Stanford's Assistant Herbarium Curator, Roxanna Ferris, on a collecting trip to Mexico. Mexia pointed out that she herself had lived for many years in Mexico, and she offered to collect duplicate botanical specimens for the Academy. Mexia made seven more collecting trips during the next twelve years, to Alaska, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, and Argentina.
    When Mexia was home in San Francisco, she gave occasional lantern-slide lectures. One of these took place at the Academy in 1932. Notes on her travels appeared regularly in The Gull, newsletter of the Audubon Society of the Pacific, 1926-35. The Sierra Club Bulletin published two accounts of her adventures. Several accounts of her expeditions were published in Madrono, the journal of the California Botanical Society.
    Mexia was a member of the California Botanical Society, the Sierra Club, the Audubon Association of the Pacific, the Sociedad Geografica de Lima, Peru, and a life member of the California Academy of Sciences. Over the course of her career she collected about 150,000 specimens. Her expeditions in Mexico (1925, 1926-27, 1929, and 1937-38), Alaska (1928), and South America (1929-32 and 1934-37) yielded over 500 new species, mostly spermatophytes, of which 50 are named in her honor.
    In 1938, Mexia became ill during one of her trips to the mountains of Oaxaca and was forced to return home. Her health did not improve and she died on July 12, 1938 at her home in Berkeley, California. In her will, ahw bequeathed $3,000.00 to the California Academy of Sciences to employ her friend and specimen mounter from Berkeley, Nina Floy Perry Bracelin.

    Scope and content

    The collection consists mostly of photographs taken by Ynes Mexia throughout her lifetime. The collection includes photographs, negatives, memoirs, correspondence, photo lists, photo notes, and field notes. The collection also includes numerous photo albums and Mexia's plant press.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Frozen negatives are unavailable for handling; however, many negatives have been digitized. Please contact the archivist for access to digitized copies of the frozen negatives.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Bracelin, N. Floy, 1890-1973
    California Academy of Sciences. Dept. of Botany.
    Pringle, Cornelia
    Sierra Nevada (Calif. and Nev.)
    Botanists--California--Archives.
    Botany
    Photograph albums.
    Yosemite
    Women in science
    Botanists
    Scientific expeditions
    Scientific expeditions--Alaska.