Collection is open to research.Use Restrictions
Permission to publish material from the Robert A. Harper Collection must be obtained from Special Collections, Virginia Tech.Preferred Citation
Robert A. Harper Collection, Ms2003-010 - Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.Acquisition Information
The Robert A. Harper Collection was transferred to the Special Collections from the Virginia Tech Biology Department in 1993.Processing Information
The processing, arrangement and description of the Robert A. Harper Collection commenced and was completed in May 2003.Descriptive Summary
This collection contains photographs and papers belonging to Robert Almer Harper, head of the Columbia University Botany Department from 1911 to 1930. The collection contains approximately 200 photographs of orchid specimens--some attributed to Hicks Arnold--and a few notes and personal papers belonging to Harper.Biographical/Historical Information
Robert Almer Harper, botanist, was born in Le Claire, Iowa, on January 21, 1862. After earning his bachelor's degree at Oberlin College in 1886, Harper taught at Gates College (1886-1888) and Lake Forest Academy (1888-1891). He earned his M. A. from Oberlin in 1891 and was appointed professor of botany at Lake Forest College. From 1894 to 1896, Harper took a sabbatical from teaching to pursue his doctoral degree in Germany, studying with Strasburger Brefeld. In 1898, he was appointed professor and head of botany at the University of Wisconsin, a position he would hold until 1911, when he was appointed head of the botany department at Columbia University.
During the 1920s, Harper also served as chief of the board of scientific directors of the New York Botanical Garden. He belonged to a number of scientific organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and the Botanical Society of America.
Harper married twice: first, in 1899, to Alice Jean McQueen (died 1909); and to Helen Sherman (1879-1973) in 1918. He retired in 1930, moving to Bedford, Virginia, where he died on May 12, 1946.Contents List