W.H. Pearsall Collection

Scope and Content

This collection contains data, correspondence and photographs from W.H. Pearsall, and his father W.H. Pearsall senior

This collection includes maps of Windermere, Coniston, Ullswater and other lakes and tarns, water analyses and phytoplankton counts from various rivers, lakes and streams, including River Wharfe, Yorkshire 1926.

Photographs of rivers

Correspondence and MSS on seaweed research. 1956 (with correspondence and notes on fisheries research)

University education and policy

Conferences: Natural Resources in Scotland at the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 31st October - 2nd November, 1960

It includes data and field notebooks on

  • soil analysis, including Esthwaite North Fen
  • ecology of peat soils in Finland
  • effects of light upon the growth of Chlorella vulgaris
  • the development of the Lake District and its associated flora and fauna (and articles by W.H. Pearsall regarding fauna)
  • special drawings of Staurastrum sebaldi, and descriptions on Staurastrum
  • Respiration experiments, Chlorella data
  • forestry, land use, crop productivity, plant ecology, science and industry
  • Habitat and species lists of liverworts, and list of higher plants Urswick Tarn. 1914. (probably by W.H. Pearsall Senior)
  • Phytoplankton samples Rostherne etc, 1912 onwards
  • loose notes, graphs and photographs of Esthwaite
  • Field notebooks from UK, Europe, Africa
  • Algae of Irish and British waters
  • organic matter in wet soils
  • water conservation in East Africa and Britain
  • Mineral nutrition of plants
  • Daylight measurements, Lake District
  • Light readings by Pearsall (1933); Mortimer (1935-39); Windermere
  • Aquatic vegetation

Administrative / Biographical History

Taken from Nature, Vol 205 No.4966, p.21, January 2, 1965

Professor W.H. Pearsall was educated at Ulverston Grammar School ( now in Cumbria) and the University of Manchester. After First World War service he joined the University of Leeds eventually becoming reader in botany. In 1938 he was appointed Professor of Botany in the University of Sheffield . From 1944 until his retirement he was Quain Professor of botany in University College, London

In 1940 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society . In 1963 he was awarded the Linnean Society's gold medal

Pearsall's father was an amateur botanist and lover of the Lake District, and it was during holidays Pearsall acquired his knowledge. He and his father studied aquatic macrophytes of Esthwaite Water and other lakes in 1913, and after the war they made a thorough investigation of the planktonic algae, and Pearsall was also mapping the vegetation of the fen at the head of Esthwaite Water. From these investigations came a series of classical papers about the development of lakes and vegtation, and chemistry of underwater soils and post-glacial history. He also carried out laboratory investigations on plant physiology, both valuable in themselves and threw ecology of the plants. He did notable work on the growth of chlorella.

Pearsall was a founder member of the Freshwater Biological Association, and acted as honourary director during 1931-1937 and chairman of the council from 1954 onwards

Pearsall edited the Journal of Ecology, and up to his death the Annals of Botany

Access Information

Contact dis@fba.org.uk to make an appointment