The name of the collection, the Sherard Collection, is deceptive. Only a portion of the papers are those of William Sherard, who endowed the Chair of Botany at Oxford. Although he did not study or teach botany at the University, he was considered one of the most outstanding botanists of his time.
In addition to the Sherard material, the collection contains the papers of Keepers of the Botanic Garden, the papers of Professors of Botany and of Rural Economy, and related papers collected by George Claridge Druce. There are also some papers concerning the Botanic Garden and herbaria.
Some of the highlights of the collection are Ferdinand Bauer's 966 original drawings for the Flora Graeca of J. Sibthorp and J. E. Smith; Sherard's work on Bauhin's Pinax; 139 coloured drawings of African plants, known as Herbarium Capense; and some beautiful watercolours of Japanese (Chinese?) plants with inscriptions by N. Witsen.