William Trelease Papers, 1868-1945
[Back to Formatted Version]
Brief Description: Papers of William Trelease (1857-1945), professor of botany and head of department (1913-20), including correspondence with family (1877-1913) about academic work at Cornell (1877-80), Harvard (1888-86), John Hopkins (1883) and Wisconsin (1881-85), faculty appointments, botany and family and with botanists, curators and collectors in North and Central America, Europe and Jamaica about research on oaks and agave; acquisition, identification and loan of specimens; field trips; nomenclature; publication and exchange of publications; passports (1888, 1894); a typed copy of Trelease's address given at the dedication of the Natural History Hall (1892); travel correspondence, literature and photographs (1930-35); photographs (1876-1908, 1913, ca. 1940); obituaries (1945) a file on the disposition of books, manuscripts and specimens (1945, 1947-48) and biographical sketches of forty-seven prominent biologists. The series includes the business and family correspondence of Trelease's parents, Samuel R. and Mary G. Trelease (1876-1913); a reprint of Trelease's address "Botanical Opportunity" given as retiring president of the Botanical Society of America (1896); Botanical Observation on the Azores (1897); a copy of The Yucceae (1902) with handwritten notes; 21 reprints (1909, 1912-27) and J. Christian Bay's "Personal Reminiscences" of Trelease (1945) with correspondence and obituaries. Correspondents include Liberty H. Bailey (Cornell), Nathaniel L. Britton (New York), Bruno T. Carreiro (Azores), Simon H. Gage (Cornell), Asa Gray (Harvard), William Harris (Jamaica) and Benjamin L. Robinson (Harvard).
Held at:
University of Illinois Archives
19 Library
1408 W. Gregory Dr.
Urbana, IL 61820
Phone: (217) 333-0798
Fax: (217) 333-2868
Email: illiarch [at] illinois.edu
Record Series Number: 15/4/22
Created by: Trelease, William (1857-1945)
Volume: 3.3 cubic feet
Acquired: 9/1963; 8/15/69; 11/24/69; 3/23/76; 11/11/80
More information is available at https://files.archon.library.illinois.edu/uasfa/1504022.pdf
Arrangement: By type of material and alphabetically (correspondence) thereunder.
Biographical Note for Trelease, William (1857-1945) :

William Trelease (1857-1945) was professor of botany and head of the Department of Botany (1913-26); Herbarium curator (1912-16); and professor emeritus (1926-45) at the University of Illinois (UI). He was a pioneering botanist, entomologist, and educator best known for his contributions to plant taxonomy.

Trelease was born on February 22, 1857, in Mount Vernon, New York. He earned a bachelor's degree from Cornell (1880) and undertook graduate work at Harvard University where he also worked as an instructor (1880-81). His doctoral dissertation at Harvard was "probably ... the first in this country in the field of bacteriology" (Kunkel 307). Over the course of his career, Trelease would also study entomology and became known as a preeminent plant taxonomist. He held positions as professor and head of the Department of Botany at the University of Wisconsin (1881-83); professor of botany and head of the Henry Shaw School of Botany at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri (1885-1913); and director of the Missouri Botanical Garden (1889-1912). He arrived at UI as professor of botany and head of the Department of Botany in 1913. Trelease was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and held the presidencies of the Botanical Society of America (1894, 1918), Cambridge Entomological Society (1889), Academie International de Geographie Botanique (1896), Botanical Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1900), the American Society of Naturalists (1903), and the Illinois Academy of Sciences (1916), among others. In 1917, the UI acquired approximately 60-acres of rare, virgin prairie forest outside Urbana, Illinois, and named the tract Trelease Woods in his honor. A remnant of the historic Big Grove forest destroyed by European settlers in the nineteenth century, today, it continues to serve as an important research area for the university.

Trelease married Julia M. Johnson, and they had four sons and a daughter. He died in Urbana, Illinois, on January 1, 1945.


"History," Department of Plant Biology (UIUC), accessed April 29, 2020, https://sib.illinois.edu/plantbio/history.

Kunkel, Louis Otto. William Trelease (1857รข??1945): A Biographical Memoir (Washington, D.C., National Academy of Sciences, 1961). Accessed April 29, 2020, http://www.nasonline.org/publications/biographical-memoirs/memoir-pdfs/trelease-william.pdf.

"Trelease Woods and Buffer," Illinois Natural History Survey, accessed May 7, 2020, https://www.inhs.illinois.edu/research/natural-areas-uiuc/trelease/.

"Trelease Woods," Illinois LAS, accessed May 7, 2020, https://las.illinois.edu/news/2019-09-06/trelease-woods.

"William Trelease," Wikipedia, accessed January 21, 2021, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Trelease.

Subject Index
Botanical Society of America
Cornell University
Faculty Papers
Field Trips
Harvard University
Jamaica - Agriculture and Natural Resources
Johns Hopkins University
Madison, Wisconsin
Music -- Spain - Business and Industry
Natural History Building
New Jersey
New Zealand - Business and Industry
St. Louis, Missouri
Texas - Rio Grande Valley
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Wood's Hole Marine Biological Laboratory
Genres/Forms of Material
Languages of Materials
English [eng]