The Cyrus Lundell archives: Images of the plant genus Parathesis.
Cyrus Longworth Lundell (1907–1994) was a well-known botanist and archaeologist. He published more than 100 cultural and botanical research papers and more than 2000 names and combinations of plant taxa. In 1931, while exploring for wild sapodilla (chicle) trees in Campeche, Mexico, he discovered the remains of the Mayan City of Calakmul, which started his long career in Mayan archaeology. In the early 1940s, Lundell developed the Texas Research Foundation (in Renner) to sponsor research to improve ranching and farming practices in Texas following the Dustbowl Era and the Great Depression. The Foundation also published numerous floristic and taxonomic works. In the 1980s, as he transitioned to retirement, Lundell donated his extensive correspondence and collection of rare botanical books to the Harry Ransom Center at UT, and his herbarium and field notes to the Plant Resources Center, along with endowments to support their curation and use.
Many of Lundell’s publications were illustrated with reproductions of original pen-and-ink drawings. He commissioned these works of art from several botanical artists, who drew detailed and beautiful botanical plates mainly from specimens in Lundell’s personal herbarium. Once these images were published, the originals were stored without any particular organization, curation, or record-keeping. The present project is a first step toward resurrecting interest in these original works. A number of plates were located and indexed during the project, but the focus became a complete set of illustrations used in a single, book-length publication: The Genus Parathesis of the Myrsinaceae (Contributions from Texas Research Foundation 5: i–xiii, 1–296, 71 figs., 35 plates. 1966).
This project began as an undergraduate Capstone Project, one of the requirements for the Museum Studies Certificate, which is one of several streams in the Bridging Disciplines Program administered by the Undergraduate College at the University of Texas at Austin. It involved a collaboration between the Harry Ransom Center and Billie L. Turner Plant Resources Center; staff there hope to expand the present project in the future to include more of the collection of technical botanical art as pieces can be located among the miscellaneous archival materials preserved in these institutions.