Inventory to the papers of Ynes Mexia at the California Academy of Sciences

Mexia (Ynes) Papers
Finding aid prepared by Christina Fidler
California Academy of Sciences Archives
55 Music Concourse Drive
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA, 94118
December 10, 2009


Box list and bio on web Bio on server at N:\library\ARCHIVES\1 Biography\Wynne biographies and at N:\library\ARCHIVES\1 Biography\Biography - Text

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.)
Photograph albums.
Women in science
Scientific expeditions
Scientific expeditions--Alaska.

Box 1, Folder 1

Photos of the Grand Canyon, Farallones Trunk, Tennessee Cove, other locations, and negatives.

Box 1, Folder 2

Notebooks of Trees, Ferns, Fungi, Mammals, Birds, and Flowers. Photographs of birds and animals.

Box 1, Folder 3

Photos Nevada and Palm Springs.

Box 1, Folder 4

Photos and negatives of the Sierras, photo #427.

Box 1, Folder 5

Photo numbers #650-760 (incomplete), negatives of Big Sur and Inverness, photos and negatives from photo class, photos marked "Odds".

Box 1, Folder 6

Photos and negatives of Wilderness Park and "Odds & Ends".

Box 1, Folder 7

Photos and negatives of St. Mary's, UC botany specimens, island teacher, sea urchin, Monterey flower, Monterey lizard, flower prints, #349, 349.5, and 765.

Box 1, Folder 8

Photos and negatives from Tomales Bay, Sierra Club, Monterey trees. Photos and negatives of animal bones.

Box 1, Folder 9

Negatives #1376-1443, "Sierras".

Box 1, Folder 10

Photos from Yosemite and Glacier National Park, Los Banos (nests), and Monterey birds. Botanical photos and field notes.

Box 1, Folder 11

Miscellaneous photos, Yosemite National Park, photos #425, #429, and photo of Harold C. Bryant.

Box 1, Folder 12

Photos and negatives of ferns, fungi, and specimens. Contains #251-253.

Box 1, Folder 13

Photography notes.

Box 1, Folder 14

Photos of specimens, Sierra Nevada, and miscellaneous photos.

Box 1, Folder 15

Sierra photos from scrapbook (duplicates).

Box 1, Folder 16

Photography notes and sandpiper photos.

Box 2, Folder 1

Photo album of travels throughout Colorado, Arizona, and California. ca. 1919-1921

Box 2, Folder 2

Photo album of travels in Arizona and California.

Box 2, Folder 3

Biography, publications by Mexia, Bracelin correspondence, donation correspondence, and receipts.

Box 3, Folder 1

Photograph lists and postcards from the California Academy of Sciences.

Box 3, Folder 2

CA Botanical Society even menu and bean poem. Photos of woman (Mexia?) in native American dress. "When Portola came over the Pike" poem. 1917

Box 3, Folder 3

Miscellaneous photos, photo album for Mrs. Bracelin, portraits, field notes from January 6, 1924. 1924 January 6

Box 3, Folder 4

Family photos.

Box 3, Folder 5

Photos of Agricultural College Vicoas, Minas Geraes, Brazil. 1930

Box 3, Folder 6

Brazil lecture flyer, J.T. Howell note, field notes, and book plate.

Box 3, Folder 7

Photographs from zoo. "A Few of the Commoner Plants Found in Mount McKinley National Park" essay.

Box 3, Folder 8

Biography, field notes, photo number notes, portfolio of memoirs, and lecture notes.

Box 3, Folder 9

Itinerary of collection trip in western Mexico. Memoirs of trip titled "Botanical Trails of Old Mexico". 1926-1927

Box 3, Folder 10

Formal portraits "From Bracelin Archive".

Box 4, Folder 1

Field notes and photos from trip to Salt Lake and Arizona parks. 1933

Box 4, Folder 2

Photos from "German camera", trip to Brazil, Mexico, and prints for Christmas. Miscellaneous papers and photos.

Box 4, Folder 3

Field notes from trip to Brazil.

Box 4, Folder 4

Prints from A#s. nitrate negatives. #A72-930, incomplete.

Box 4, Folder 5

Plant list notebook, A-Z (gardening), postcards, and letter by Joshua Baily.

Box 4, Folder 6

"Brazilian Ferns Collected by Ynes Mexia" by E.B. Copeland. 1932

Box 4, Folder 7

Wildflower photographs list, letter from Wild Flower Preservation Society, P.L. Ricker, photos.

Box 4, Folder 8

Correspondence with P.L. Ricker of the Wild Flower Preservation Society, Inc.

Box 5

Box contains original nitrate negative containers and photo notes. Negatives removed for freezing. Undated

Box 6

2 albums. Yosemite and Birds Studies in bird nests Animals - Yellowstone, Glacier, Yosemite.

Box 7

Plant press, notebook, album (clippings - So. America, Germany, etc.).

Box 11, Box 10, Box 12, Box 8, Box 9

Nitrate negatives removed for freezing. Unprinted negs, 65% scanned, #A1-A115, #81.5-825, #827-1247, #A72-749.5, and #25-964 (incomplete).