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Finding Aid to the Ynés Mexía papers, 1872-1963, 1872-1963 (bulk 1910-1938)
BANC MSS 68/130 m  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Alternate Forms Available
  • Related Collections
  • Material Cataloged Separately
  • Indexing Terms
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Ynés Mexía papers
    Date (inclusive): 1872-1963
    Date (bulk): 1910-1938
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 68/130 m
    Creator: Mexía, Ynés, 1870-1938
    Extent: 9 boxes, 4 cartons, 1 oversize folder 8.5 linear feet 3 digital objects (3 images)
    Repository: The Bancroft Library.
    University of California, Berkeley
    Berkeley, CA 94720-6000
    Phone: (510) 642-6481
    Fax: (510) 642-7589
    Email: bancref@library.berkeley.edu
    URL: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/
    Abstract: Papers of the botanist, explorer and lecturer, the daughter of Enrique Guillermo Antonio Mexia and granddaughter of Jose Antonio Mexia. Includes letters to and from Mexia about family, personal matters, and plant collections; writings by Mexia and other pertaining to the Mexia botanical collections from Mexico, South America, and Alaska. Includes correspondence by Nina Floy Bracelin, acting as the representative of Mexia, pertaining to botanical collections
    Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English, Spanish
    Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Materials in this collection may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley 94720-6000. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html .

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Ynes Mexia papers, BANC MSS 68/130 m, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

    Alternate Forms Available

    Digital reproductions of selected items are available.

    Related Collections

    • Title: Mexía Family Papers, BANC MSS M-B1
    • Title: Nina Floy Bracelin Papers, BANC MSS 68/132 c
    • Title: University of California, Berkeley, Herbarium, field notebooks and plant collections

    Material Cataloged Separately

    • Photographs have been transferred to the Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library.
    • Some maps have been transferred to the Map Collection of The Bancroft Library.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog
    Mexía, Enrique Guillermo Antonio, 1829-1896
    Mexía, José Antonio, 1790-1839
    Mexía, Ynés, 1870-1938--Archives
    Mexía family
    Botany--South America
    Herbaria--Central America
    Herbaria--South America
    Scientific expeditions--Alaska
    Scientific expeditions--Mexico
    Scientific expeditions--South America
    Women botanists

    Acquisition Information

    One carton of material was given in 1955-1956 by Mrs. Nina Floy Bracelin, from the Ynis Mexma Estate. Additional items were a gift from Mrs. William E. Colby in 1962. The bulk of the collection came from Mrs. Bracelin in 1963.


    Ynés Mexía was born May 24, 1870 in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., where her father, General Enrique A. Mexía, was serving as a representative of the Mexican government under President Porfirio Díaz. Her grandfather, José Antonio Mexía, was also a Mexican general, serving under President Antonio López de Santa Anna. Her mother, Sarah R. Wilmer of Maryland, was a descendent of Samuel Eccleston, Fifth Archbishop of Baltimore. Ynés Mexía spent her early childhood in Texas on a land grant where the town of Mexía, Limestone County, is now located. She attended private schools in Philadelphia and Ontario, Canada; St. Joseph's College, Emmetsburg, Maryland; and the University of California, Berkeley. As a young woman she lived in Tacubaya, Mexico, where she married Herman E. Laue in 1898. After his death, she married Agustín Reygadas. This second marriage ended in a divorce.
    Her first collecting expedition was to Mexico in 1922, as a member of a group led by E. L. Furlong, Curator of Paleontology, University of California, Berkeley. The important collecting began in 1925 on her second trip to Mexico, with Mrs. Roxana S. Ferris, Dudley Herbarium, Stanford University. On subsequent collecting expeditions she went three more times to Mexico, once to Alaska, and twice to South America. She collected for the University of California and the United States Department of Agriculture. One trip to South America, lasting two and a half years, was initiated by her, and included a trip down the Amazon.
    Her contributions to botany included a total of 8,800 numbers. She collected approximately 145,000 specimens. Two were new genera, Mexianthus mexicanus Robinson (Compositae) and Spulula quadrifida Mains (Pucciniaceae). The collections included approximately five hundred new species, primarily spermatophytes. Fifty species were named after her. Her plants were widely distributed and are now in leading botanical museums in the United States and Western Europe.
    She was a member of the Sierra Club, California Botanical Society, Audubon Association of the Pacific, California Academy of Sciences, Sociedad Geografica de Lima, Peru, and an honorary member of the Departamento Forestal de Caza y Pesca of Mexico. In 1951, part of the remainder of her estate was given to the Save-the-Redwoods League, which purchased land in Northern California, west of Prairie Creek, containing a beach and Home Creek Canyon.
    In 1938, during a collecting trip in the mountains of the State of Oaxaca, Mexico, she became ill. She returned to San Francisco in May, and died on July 12, 1938, at the age of 68.

    Scope and Content

    The Ynés Mexía Papers reflect the outstanding contributions of this botanist, explorer and collector, who began her most important work late in her life, when she was past 50 years old. Her 15-year career of plant collecting for the University of California, United States Department of Agriculture, and herself took her on five expeditions to Mexico, two to South America, and one to Alaska. The botanical researcher will be impressed by the detailed scientific record left by Ynés Mexía.
    In the General Correspondence (Series 1) there are personal letters and letters written to Nina Floy Bracelin, who was her close associate. Some correspondence to and from Mexico is in Spanish. The letters from the field to Bracelin are fascinating accounts of her experiences, and a few from South America were passed among friends and colleagues. Other correspondence regarding botanical collections is found elsewhere in the collection (Series 4). The letters to botanical institutions and to other botanists include Bracelin correspondence, written while she was acting in her capacity as an assistant to Mexía.
    Series 2, Biographical Information, contains personal financial records, family history materials, newsclippings concerning Mexía's botanical expeditions, and obituaries. Writings relating to her travels and plants, travel, lecture and natural history notes, as well as articles which cite Mexía, are found in Series 3.
    Notebooks compiled by Mrs. Bracelin containing determination and distribution lists relating to plant collections (Series 5), and card file boxes containing labels for numerical and family sets of botanical species (Series 6) are present also. Annotated maps used during botanical expeditions are included in Series 7. Photographs of plants taken by Ynés Mexía have been separated and placed with the Pictorial Collections.