The papers of Nina Floy Perry Bracelin, a biologist, illustrator, and contemporary of Ynes Mexia and Alice Eastwood, includes
correspondence, photos, drawings, ephemera, and documents relating to her work at the US Department of Agriculture's Western
Regional Research Laboratory.
Nina Floy Perry was born in Star Lake, Minnesota on March 24, 1890 to Linda Lana Burfield Perry and Erwin Alonso Perry. She
was educated by private tutors and at private schools, and later took courses at the University of California at Berkeley.
Her married name was Bracelin, and she was known as “Bracie” to her friends and colleagues. A fuchsia and a salix were named
after her: fuchsia bracelinae and salix lesiolepis bracelinae.
She organized and documented the botanical collections of Ynes Mexia and published two articles about her in Madrono, the
Journal of the California Botanical Society: “Itinerary of Ynes Mexia in South America” in 3:174-176, 1935; and “Ynes Mexia”
in 4:273-275, 1938. Ynes Mexia was a Mexican national born in Washington D.C. who traveled alone, collecting specimens in
Mexico and South America. She and Nina Floy Bracelin had become friends in 1927 when they were both enrolled in “Six Trips
Afield”, a University of California Extension course. Ynes was a plant hunter who had little interest in organizing her collections.
In 1928 Bracie took over that task, preparing labels, and sending sets to specialists for naming. She built up a wide correspondence
with botanists throughout the world. Ynes Mexia, in her Will, left $3000 to the California Academy of Sciences for the employment
of Bracie as an assistant to Alice Eastwood. (She had been working as a research assistant at the Herbarium of the University
of California in Berkeley.)
A letter from Bracie to Dr. Robert Miller, Director at the Academy in 1939, says she’ll be with them to start her employment
on January 2, 1940; she is happy to be working with Miss Eastwood. On July 17, 1942 Alice Eastwood’s letter to the CAS Council
states that the time is up for Bracie’s employment by the terms of the gift from Ynes Mexia, and urges that her employment
be continued at $100 a month.
The Academy Newsletter of May 1947 notes the gift of one of the oldest herbaria in America, the work of Andreas Beckman, a
student of Linnaeus, done in 1752--it had descended in his family to Sara Beckman, a friend of Bracie, who had persuaded her
to give it to the Academy. It also notes the gift of Bracie’s collection of 17,000 specimens
from the Anson S. Blake Gardens in Berkeley and notes that they are of outstanding botanical interest. The following year,
the Academy extended to her a lifetime membership.
In the 1950’s we find Bracie doing scientific illustrations at the Department of Agriculture’s Western Agricultural Laboratory.
On April 25, 1960, Botany Curator John Thomas Howell writes to Bracie: ‘Elizabeth McClintock and I are sending you one of
the deluxe bound copies of the Arboretum list – a birthday gift, retirement remembrance, and token of appreciation for your
many, many gifts to our department and the Academy library. We hope you enjoy it and remember every plant name listed!”
Nina Floy Perry Bracelin died in Berkeley, California on July 8, 1973 following a long illness.