Papers of the Botany Department of the University of St Andrews

Scope and Content

These bequests and benefactions include both holdings relating to the donors (Dr John Hardie Wilson, Professor W C McIntosh, James Adam Terras and Ellis Crapper) and also to the following: James Wilson Jnr, brother of Dr John Hardie Wilson, (ca. 1885-1900); William Fernie Buist (Lawpark, St Andrews, ca. 1860); John Smith (Curator, Kew, ca. 1830); M L Bruce (Ceres, Fife, 1903); Friedrich Gottlieb Stebler (ca. 1880); Charles Howie (St Andrews, ca. 1850-1890); Eliza Rhymer McIntosh and Eliza Mitchell McIntosh, mother and sister of WC McIntosh (ca. 1858-1868); Dr James Lawson Drummond (ca. 1828-1848); Hugh Francis Clarke Cleghorn (1850); Professor William Angus Knight (ca. 1850-1905).

The collection also includes substantial holdings of unknown provenance. These holdings relate to a small number of unidentified individuals as well as the following Scottish botanists: Professor Robert Alexander Robertson (ca. 1896-1934); Mary Douglas Dunn [active in the University of St Andrews during the first half of the 20th century]; W B Ogilvie (ca. 1904-1957); Dr John Hardie Wilson (additional holdings, ca. 1896-1916).

The collection is made up of teaching material and research documents as well as some items of non-botanical local interest. The collection is of mixed media comprising a quantity of personal papers, teaching aids, lecture notes and notes taken by students, mounted botanical specimens (including mosses, ferns, grasses, algae and seaweeds) and photographic material (mostly botanical photographic images, lantern slides, glass plate negatives and one volume of botanical photography technique notes). There is also material relating to the history of the original University of St Andrews botanic garden site at St Mary's College, 1889-ca. 1955.

Administrative / Biographical History

The occupant of the University Chair of Natural and Civil History was expected to cover botany teaching from 1827. John Hardie Wilson was the first to teach botany from 1887. He left in 1890 and was succeeded in 1891 by RA Robertson who was appointed as first full time lecturer in the department. He was promoted to the Chair of Botany upon its establishment in 1927-8, being succeded by RJD Graham in 1934.

The collection comprises bequests and benefactions made by Dr John Hardie Wilson, Professor W C McIntosh, James Adam Terras and Ellis Crapper.


The Botany Department Deposit of 1984 is located in the manuscript run ms37783-ms37852 and ms38524. Addenda and related holdings are found at ms38459, ms38491-ms38492, ms38513-ms38514 and ms38525.

Conditions Governing Access

By appointment with the Archivist. Access to unpublished records less than 30 years old and other records containing confidential information may be restricted. Special conditions apply to photographs.


At date of listing, a quantity of University Botany Department herbarium material and botanic garden-related material was extant at the St Andrews botanic garden.

Description compiled by Rachel Hart, Archives Hub Project Archivist, based on description by Meic Pierce Owen who catalogued the collection between 2000 and 2002 as part of the RSLP-sponsored HOST [History of Science and Technology] project.

Other Finding Aids

The listing is available on the departmental manuscripts database. Descriptions of all holdings included in this collection can be accessed by manuscript number or keyword search. A number of supplementary entries offering additional biographical information for many of the correspondents and background information relating to this collection are also available.

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the University Archivist. Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents. Special conditions apply to photographs.

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 227 procedures.

Custodial History

In May 1984 the Botany Department deposited a large quantity of early departmental paper-based material with the Special Collections Department of the University Library. The transfer was made at the time of the department's move to the Sir Harold Mitchell Building in order to safeguard their future preservation and integrity.

In the years since this deposit, additional items have been deposited in the Special Collections Department of the University Library which clearly bear the same provenance as the original deposit.


J A Macdonald, Plant Science and Scientists in St Andrews up to the middle of the twentieth century, (St Andrews, 1984).