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W.W. Eggleston collection of William C. Cusick

Identifier: Coll 078

Scope and Contents

The W.W. Eggleston Collection of William C. Cusick contains correspondence, journal entries, field work itineraries and annotated plant lists, covering the period from 1862-1922. It was transferred to the University of Oregon Special Collections from the Cusick Herbarium, which had received it from Dartmouth College.


  • 1862-1922


Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Conditions Governing Use note

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical/Historical note

William Conklin Cusick was born February 26, 1842 in Adams County, Illinois. He was educated in country schools in Illinois until age 11 when his family migrated west along the Oregon trail. The eldest of five children, William walked most of the way, driving an ox-team, and settled with his family in the Willamette Valley. He continued his education in rural schools until age 20, when he entered La Creole Academy in Dallas, Polk County for one and half years. After a two year stint of teaching, he returned to the Academy, leaving in 1864 to enroll at Willamette University in Salem. There he studied higher algebra, physics and geology until enlisting in the Union Army in 1865.

During his year of army service in Idaho and Eastern Oregon, Cusick developed an interest in botany. He began his first collection of plant specimens, and the first of five phases of plant collecting. Cusick returned to teaching until 1872, when he moved to Eastern Oregon with his brother, S. Frank Cusick, settling on Cusick Creek in Union County. He published plant lists, and began selling his seeds, plants, and mounted specimens to nurseries and botanical gardens. He spent the winter of 1910 at the University of Oregon Herbarium in Eugene, until poor health forced his early return to Union County.

Cusick's failing eyesight and consequent eye operations for cataracts between 1913-1916, limited his collecting activity. In 1914, Professor C.V. Piper requested his associate agronomist at the Bureau of Plant Industry, Willard W. Eggleston, to begin corresponding with Cusick in hopes of working on a flore of the Blue Mountains. Eggleston spent a week botanizing with Cusick and made plans to return to continue the work, although it was interrupted by World War I.

Cusick's plant collection numbered nearly 5,000. He discovered dozens of new species, nearly forty of which were named after him. His specimens collected up to 1912 are preserved in the Cusick Herbarium at the Univeristy of Oregon which he sold to them in 1913. Washingon State University acquired his later herbarium. Cusick died at his brother's home in Union, Oregon on October 7, 1922. In 1924, Eggleston compiled a biography of Cusick, several drafts of which are included in this collection.


1.5 linear feet (2 containers) : 2 boxes

Language of Materials



Largely contains transcriptions of correspondence, fieldwork itineraries, and annotated plant lists.

Processing Information note

Collection is processed.

Guide to the W.W. Eggleston collection of William C. Cusick
Complete Description
Finding aid prepared by University of Oregon Libraries, Archivists' Toolkit Project Team
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA