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Albert and Carrie Sweetser papers

Identifier: Ax 075

Scope and Contents

The collection contains Albert Sweetser correspondence and notes, photographs and negatives, and Albert and Carrie Sweetser travel and teaching scrapbooks, photo albums and journals, and personal material.

The first section of alphabetized correspondence and notes concerns a history of botany and botanists in the Pacific Northwest. There is correspondence and notes regarding the U.S. Forest Service and notes about botanical subjects.

There are multiple travel, teaching, and personal scrapbooks, journals, and photo albums available, many with drawings by Carrie Sweetser. Most of the journals were written by Carrie Sweetser to document her and Albert's travels. A few journals are written by Albert. Journals that contained mostly photographs or were deemed very fragile were removed from the paper files for preservation reasons and are stored separately with other photographs, under the photograph call number PH015.

The photograph series include prints, negatives, glass plate negatives, lantern slides, photo albums and journals, and photographs with related drawings. There is a large section of negatives documenting the Sweetser's travels in Japan and S. Korea from 1909-1921. Another large section of prints, negatives, and personal journals contain drawings and images of flora. There is also small section of family photographs and prints of the Sweetsers scouting out botanical subjects.

A related collection of paintings by Carrie Sweetser contain watercolors of flora; for more information please see the related materials note.

An addendum of 1988 contains collected material about or by other botanists. Material includes manuscripts, botanical information on the Lewis and Clark expedition, and a book by Albert Sweetser that is also annotated by him.

Botanists represented in the collection are: Henry N. Bolander, W. C. Cusick, J. H. Dickson, David Douglas, G. Engelman, M. A. Flinn, Frederick Funston, Karl Geyer, Martin W. Gorman, Thaddaeus Haenke, Elihu Hall, Louis F. Henderson, William J. Hooker, John Howell, Thomas Howell, John Jeffrey, A. J. Johnson, G. H. von Langsdorff, John B. Leiberg, F. G. Luders, C. H. Mertens, J. C. Nelson, R. D. Nevius, John S. Newberry, Thomas Nuttall, Morton E. Peck, Charles V. Piper, Frederick Pursh, Edmund P. Sheldon, H. A. Spalding, Georg W. Steller, Wilhelm N. Suksdorf, William F. Tolmie, John K. Townsend, Kirk Whited, Charles Wilkes, Nathaniel Wyeth.


  • Creation: 1887-1952


Conditions Governing Access

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. Glass plate negatives and lantern slides are restricted due to the fragility of the format. All decisions regarding use will be at the discretion of the curator for visual materials.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Albert Raddin Sweetser (1861-1940) was professor of botany at the University of Oregon, 1902-1931. Carrie K. Sweetser (1863-1952) was a watercolorist, a life-long diarist, and her botanist husband's devoted travel companion. In 1897, the Sweetsers came to Oregon, where Albert's first teaching post was at Pacific University. He moved to the University of Oregon in 1902, and the couple remained in Eugene until their deaths.

In 1902, Albert Sweetser joined the faculty at the University of Oregon as professor of botany and became department head seven years later; he would go on to teach for botany twenty-nine years. He founded the University of Oregon Herbarium in 1903. He was an early Oregon conservationist and author of many popular natural history articles. Early in his tenure at Oregon, he was appointed State Biologist. Sweetser retired in 1931, the year he also received an honorary doctorate from the university.

Albert Sweetser was born in Mendon, Massachusetts, on July 15, 1861, the son of a Methodist minister. He attended Wesleyan University in Connecticut, where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1884 and his master’s degree in 1887. He married Carrie Knowles Phinney in 1888. Carolyn Knowles Phinney was born in Centerville, Massachusetts, on September 11, 1863.

On botanical exploring and collecting trips, the Sweetsers took many photographs and Carrie painted wildflowers and fungi. They both kept travel journals, with Carrie illustrating and writing most of them. During the summer of 1892, the Sweetsers taught at a boys' camp at Rangeley Lake, Maine, and Carrie kept an illustrated journal that chronicled their adventures.

Albert Sweetser died in 1940; Carrie Sweetser lived for another dozen years, passing away in Eugene September 9, 1952, at the age of eighty-nine. The couple had no children, but they are survived by the descendants of George Phinney, Carrie's nephew, whom they raised as their son.


30 linear feet (98 containers) : 9 manuscript boxes, 89 photo boxes

Language of Materials



Albert Raddin Sweetser (1861-1940) was professor of botany at the University of Oregon, 1902-1931, and he established the UO Herbarium. His wife, Carrie K. Sweetser (1863-1952) was a watercolorist, a life-long diarist, and her botanist husband's devoted travel companion. The collection contains Albert Sweetser correspondence and notes, photographs and negatives of botanical subjects and travel in Japan and S. Korea in the early 1900s, and Albert and Carrie Sweetser travel and teaching scrapbooks, photo albums, journals, and personal material.


Materials within this collection are arranged first by initial accession(s) that were processed together as a whole and then by subsequent accession(s). This organization reflects the fact that the collection had been processed at one point in time and then more materials were acquired in increments over time. This organization is also based on the decision not to merge the various accessions and organize them into a whole at this point in time, given the fact that future accruals are anticipated and/or that this organization is deemed sufficient for access.

Researchers should note that materials within a series or accession may overlap and/or relate to materials found in other accessions or initially processed materials. For example, correspondence may be found in all or only some groupings. In order to locate all relevant material within this collection, researchers may need to consult each accession.

Researchers should also note that similar materials can be arranged differently in each accession, depending on how the material is organized upon receipt or during initial processing. For instance, correspondence is one accession may be arranged alphabetically, while correspondence in another accession is arranged chronologically.

Other Finding Aids

Paper finding aid with additional information is available in Special Collections and University Archives.

Related Materials

Other collections relating to Albert Raddin Sweetser and/or Carrie Sweetser at Special Collections and University Archives include: Carrie K. Sweetser paintings, Coll 237.

Processing Information

Collection processed by staff, 1987-1988.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

This collection may have received a basic level of processing including some organization and rehousing. The initial accession(s) were processed and arranged as a whole and are reflected in the series arrangement. Subsequent accession(s) for the collection have not been merged or organized as a whole. Each subsequent accession is described separately.

Description information is drawn in part from information supplied with the collection and initial surveys of the contents

Guide to the Albert and Carrie Sweetser Papers
Revise Description
Tanya Parlet.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English
Funding for production of this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Repository Details

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

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA