Henry William Ravenel (1814-1887)

Introduction | Introduction to the Botanical Collection | Applied Botany: Some Cultivated Plants | Ravenel in the South Caroliniana Library | Type Specimens in the Ravenel Collection | Some Rare Plants | Some Noteworthy Plants | A New Species of a Fresh-Water Alga | Weedy Plants from South Carolina | Specimens from Some of Ravenel's Southern Colleagues | Specimens from Some of Ravenel's Northern Colleagues | Plants Named After Ravenel | References

Ravenel in the South Caroliniana Library

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autograph letter may 15 1855Henry William Ravenel on Fungi, 1855
Henry William Ravenel, Aiken, Autograph Letter, Signed, to Charles Montague, Paris 
Letter, May 15, 1855,

"My lichens have all been placed in the hands of Mr Tuckennan, among which he has found several new species I shall be pleased to make up a package of American Fungi for you it will be only the discharge of a just debt, to return to you an equivalent in this humble wav."


private journal 1860Ravenel’s Fungi and the South Carolina College library, 1860
Private Journal of Henry William Ravenel, January 18, 1860

"I wrote a letter today to Prof Laborde of Columbia, to ask if the College intended taking the other numbers of my 'Fungi Exsic.' They took the first, but have not called for the others."


autograph letter april 1 1865The Natural Historian in Wartime, 1865
Henry William Ravenel, Hampton Hill, Autograph Letter, Signed, to his brother‑in‑law, Dr. Richard Y. Dwight, April 1, 1865,

"I have suffered as much from my 'friends' (Wheeler's cavalry) as we did from the enemy My worst loss is the breaking open of my desk & the loss & mutilation of my papers, records, manuscripts, packages of letters, botanical correspondence of 20 years  Not many of my books were taken nor was my herbarium touched."

private journal july 22 1866Ravenel looks back at his achievements, 1866
Private Journal of Henry William Ravenel, July 22, 1866

"It [life as a planter] suited my previous inclination & my turn of mind. I had paid much attention to Chemistry & Natural Philosophy in College & was pleased with this glimpse I got of the world of Nature. I lived in the country & took up a fondness for Botany making a few collections‑‑ plants & fossils. I had a visit from a travelling naturalist a Mr Olmstead who was collecting plants. He initiated me fairly in the mode of making collections, & so interested me in the subject that I commenced then to collect & study. At the end of the first season I had made a very respectable beginning. My house at Northampton was burned down the following winter & all my collection destroyed. I began anew in the spring, & with the aid of Dr Bachman at first, & then afterwards of Dr Curtis, Prof Gray & others, continued the recreation. About 1846 I commenced the investigation of Cryptogamic botany, & made much progress in my collection having the correspondence & aid of Dr Curtis & Mr Berkeley on the fungi, of Tuckerman in the Lichens & Sullivant in the Mosses."

henry william ravenelA Tintype Photograph of Ravenel
Undated, but c. 1870.

Ravenel’s Guide for Post‑War Gardeners
southern gardenerRavenel, Henry William, 1814-1887.
The southern gardener, or Short and simple directions for the culture of vegetables and fruits at the South.

Charleston, S. C.: Walker, Evans & Cogswell, 1871. Original wrappers.  Gift of Mr. Thomas Burgess, 2004.

This brief guide, written in the aftermath of war, focuses on growing foodstuffs, rather than on scientific botany.  Alongside the pamphlet itself are shown a page from Ravenel’s original manuscript and Ravenel’s wheel‑shaped foldout chart indicating planting seasons and the seasons for other garden tasks.  

Collectingravenel private journal february 28 1881 as a Source of Income, 1881
Private Journal of Henry William Ravenel, February 28, 1881

"I received a letter yesterday from Prof Sargent stating that he has undertaken the collection of wood specimens of our trees for the American Museum of Nat. History in New York, & asking my assistance in procuring specimens from this region. The compensation will be the same as for the [census] work last year. I have written to him




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