A collection of manuscripts,
correspondence, and photographs related to the life and career of American cacti specialist
Ernest Christian Rost.
Ernest Christian Rost (1867-1940) was an artist, pioneer photographer, adventurer, and
botanist. He was born in Mount Vernon, New York, son of German parents, Christian Wilhelm
Rost, a renowned engraver, and Minna Rost, an embroiderer of military insignia. Rost studied
at the National Academy of Design and continued his artistic education in Europe. In the
late 1890s, he turned to photography, working in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Philippines,
and Panama. In 1907, he married Etta N. Newbury and by 1918 he settled in California. Having
failed at growing grapes in the San Joaquin Valley, he moved to Southern California and
settled in Alhambra where he devoted his life to the study of cacti. Rost traveled widely
throughout the Mojave Desert, Nevada, Mexico, and Arizona, collecting and classifying desert
plants. In 1929, he became an editor of Desert, the official publication of the American
Succulent Societies. In 1931, he was elected to the German Horticultural Society. In 1933,
Rost sought to publish a book Something about cacti, but the book was never published. Rost
died in Alhambra in October 1940.
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