Main content

Dr. Edgar T. Wherry botanical lantern slides


Held at: Morris Arboretum Archives [Contact Us]100 E. Northwestern Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Morris Arboretum Archives. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

"Edgar Theodore Wherry was born on September 10, 1885, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After graduating from the Friends Central School in 1902, he received a scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry in 1906 and a Ph.D. in Geology-Mineralogy in 1909.

"He taught for five years as an assistant professor in the Geological Department of Lehigh University. In 1913, he became the assistant curator of mineralogy at the U.S. National Museum in Washington, D.C. During his time in Washington, he began working with the Wild Flower Preservation Society and taught himself the principles of botany. He started exploring theories of soil chemistry in relation to plant growth.

"Dr. Wherry's work with ferns and their 'relationship to their geological-chemical environment' became the topic of many of his publications, and the focus of his membership and subsequent presidency of the American Fern Society from 1934 to 1938. Wherry published three key guides to the ferns of North America: Guide to Eastern Ferns in 1937, The Fern Guide in 1961, and The Southern Fern Guide in 1964.

"Wherry was a professor of botany at the University of Pennsylvania from 1930-1955, and in 1932 he was appointed ecologist to the Morris Arboretum. He also taught soil science, plant physiology, plant ecology, and taxonomy at the Arboretum School of the Barnes Foundation from 1941 to 1950, and again from 1953 to 1957.

"He is credited with discovering the mineral Wherryite, as well as several plants, including Asplenium xtrudellii, Microgramma heterophylla, Sarracenia oreophila, and Sarracenia jonesii. Plants named in honor of Dr. Wherry include Tiarella wherryi, Silene wherryi, and Dryopteris wherryi.

"Wherry was awarded professor emeritus status upon his retirement from University of Pennsylvania in 1955. He was also awarded the Mary Soper Pope Medal by the Cranbrook Institute of Science in 1964 for his achievements in plant research.

"Dr. Wherry worked closely with many botanical organizations, such as the Bowman's Hill State Wildflower Preserve, the American Rock Garden Society, the Delaware Valley Chapter of the American Rock Garden Society, and the Delaware Valley Fern Society."


Quoted text from: Friedman, Lindsay. Finding aid to Edgar Theodore Wherry Papers, 1907-1977, The Barnes Foundation Archives WHE. November 2010. Accessed January 25, 2013.

This collection consists of over 1,00 of lantern slides created by Dr. Edgar T. Wherry depicting botanical specimens, some from the Morris Arboretum and others from locations throughout the world, circa 1924 to circa 1960s. Many of the black and white glass lantern slides were hand colored with transparent dyes by Dr. Wherry. There is also one slide script, from a 1976 lecture on Phlox.

Many of the lantern slides were copied to 35mm Kodachrome film and Kodak Ektachrome slides through initiatives in the 1970s and 1980s. Some of the copies were deposited at Longwood Gardens and the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2012-2014 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact Morris Arboretum Archives directly for more information.

Morris Arboretum Archives
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Faith Charlton through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Access Restrictions

Contact Morris Arboretum Archives for information about accessing this collection.

Collection Inventory

Print, Suggest