Collection ASM0188 - Walter Tennyson Swingle collection

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Walter Tennyson Swingle collection


  • 1586-1952 (Creation)
  • 1890-1952 (Creation)


90 Boxes

Name of creator

Biographical history

Walter Tennyson Swingle was born the first child and only son of John Fletcher and Mary Astley Swingle, a young farm couple in Canaan Township, Wayne County, Pennsylvania on January 8, 1871. Due to a fall in property values in the Panic of 1873, the family moved to Manhattan, Kansas where Swingle grew up along with his sister Miriam.

His interest in botany started as a young boy when he was fascinated by the many different plants he saw. When nobody knew their names, he would make them up until he found out that one could look them up and he acquired a copy of Gray's Manual of Botany from Kansas State Agricultural College nearby. Through this he became proficient at systematic botany even before he had any formal education on the subject. At the age of fifteen he enrolled at Kansas State agricultural College and came to be under the tutelage of Professor William A. Kellerman, who encouraged him in his work. By 1891 Swingle had already published 21 scientific papers with Prof. Kellerman in addition to six papers on his own accord.

In 1891 Swingle was offered an appointment by Dr. Beverly T. Galloway, Chief of the Section of Vegetable Pathology of the United States Department of Agriculture, and, as soon as he started working, he was sent to do a survey of the citrus fruit growing areas of Florida, sparking a lifelong interest in citrus. In 1894, due to a harsh freeze in Florida that caused major damage to the citrus industry and to his own work in Florida, Swingle took the occasion to study the German literature in his field at the University of Bonn. There he also carried out studies in plant cell structure, proving the existence of the centrosome in plant cells, research which he continued at the Marine Zoological Institute in Naples, Italy. In the fall of 1896, due to the volume and value of his published work and research, Kansas State Agricultural College awarded him a Master of Science degree.

Swingle continued to work for the U.S.D.A. until July, 1898 when he once again took leave to study in Europe, and there met his future wife, Mlle. Lucie Romstaedt, his French tutor. They were married on June 8, 1901. It was during this time that he started his research on the date palm and was put in charge of developing the U.S. date industry. Lucie Swingle died of typhoid in 1910, and, as a result of her death, Swingle worked even harder.

In 1911, Swingle met Maude Kellerman, daughter of Prof. W.A. Kellerman when she traveled to Washington. An accomplished botanist herself, she understood his work and they were eventually married on October 2, 1915. They eventually had four children. From this point on his life was devoted to perusing a variety of interests, including citrus, dates and developing the Orientalia Collection of the Library of Congress. It was during this time that he collaborated with Michael J. Hagerty, a self-taught Chinese translator for the U.S.D.A. in translating Chinese botanical accounts, focusing on subjects that helped him in his research for the U.S.D.A.

Swingle was a valued member of many societies and clubs both in America and Europe. Included among these were the Cosmos Club, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Soci‚t‚ Nationale d'Horticulture de France to name a few. In addition he had also received a honorary doctorate from Kansas State Agricultural College in Science for his life's work.

In January, 1941 Swingle retired from the Department of Agriculture but remained as Collaborator to the Department as well as Consultant in Tropical Botany at the University of Miami, a position he held until his death in Washington, D.C. on January 19, 1952.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

The Walter Tennyson Swingle Collection contains research material and correspondence of Walter T. Swingle as well as translations and correspondence of Michael J. Hagerty. The Swingle portion of the collection is comprised of his articles, manuscripts, diaries, and most of Swingle's correspondence between 1885 and 1951.

The correspondence gives an overview of his botanical and plant introduction work as well as his personal life and travels. The bulk of the correspondence are letters from distinguished colleagues such as Herbert J. Webber, Dr. Beverly T. Galloway, W.A. Kellerman and others from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Also included in this group are correspondence between Swingle and David G. Fairchild, noted Florida naturalist and one of the men who conceived of a sub-tropical garden in Florida and for who Fairchild Tropical Garden in Miami, Florida is named. Their correspondence details an account of their collaborative work and friendship.

Swingle's research material includes notes, notebooks, and large number of first accounts of citrus in the Original Citrus Literature, containing a number of articles by Carolus Linnaeus.

Of special interest to the University of Miami is material dealing with Swingle's tenure as Consultant in Tropical Botany at the University, as well as some interesting material dealing with his U.S.D.A. work in Brazil in the 1930's.

The Hagerty portion of the collection consists most importantly of translations made by Hagerty of Chinese accounts on botany for the Swingle's work in the Department of Agriculture. It includes a very large translation of the Chinese accounts of citrus from the Chinese Imperial Encyclopedia which is over 500 pages long and very important to Swingle's study of citrus. Also in this portion are found a very large amount of correspondence between Hagerty and Swingle which details most of their work together for the U.S.D.A.

System of arrangement



SERIES: Swingle Articles.

BOX 1-6.


2.52 lin. ft.

Arranged in alphabetical order.

The printed articles are indexed chronologically. This series contains printed articles (1-2) and manuscript articles (3-6) written by W.T. Swingle.

SERIES: Manuscript Notebooks and Papers.

Box 7-14.


3.22 lin. ft.

Arranged chronologically. No index.

This series contains memoranda notebooks (7-8), agricultural notes (9), observations of experiments (10), and personal notebooks (11-12). Also included are various manuscripts of reports, speeches etc.(13) which are arranged alphabetically. Box 14 contains Swingle's personal diaries arranged chronologically.

SERIES: Chronological Correspondence File.

Box 15-34.


9.64 lin ft.

Arranged chronologically. No index.

This series is comprised of all of Swingle's correspondence with the exception of his correspondence with Michael J. Hagerty. It contains letter books (11-14); single letters (19-28) is arranged alphabetically within a chronological order; fragments and undated correspondence (29); Swingle family correspondence (30-31); and correspondence with David G. Fairchild which includes Fairchild manuscripts andmemorabilia.

SERIES: Original Citrus Literature.

Box 35-45.


4.62 lin. ft.

Arranged alphabetically by author.

Indexed chronologically.

This series contains original references to citrus which Swingle collected to use in his research (35-45).

SERIES: Citrus Synonomy File.

Box 46-48.


1.26 lin. ft.

Arranged in alphabetical order. No index.

This series contains Citrus accounts arranged alphabetically by species within genus.

SERIES: Research Material.

Box 49-63.


6.97 lin ft.

Arranged alphabetically except boxes 55-59 and box 63. No index.

This series is composed of Swingle's working papers and research material. It includes research material (49-50) and articles by other authors (51). The reference material is comprised of English language material (52) and foreign languages material (53). The working papers include material from Kansas State Agricultural College (54); the United States Department of Agriculture (55-62); and the University of Miami (63).

SERIES: Miscellaneous.

Box 64-69


2.36 lin ft.

Arranged in alphabetical order except print box, arranged by size. No index.

This series contains memorabilia, documents, awards, photographs, invitations, advertisments, and other personal material related to Swingle. The documents and awards are found in box 64, miscellaneous material by subject (65-67), photographs (68), and a photographs portfolio (69).



SERIES: Translations.

Box 70-75.


2.52 lin. ft.

Arranged alphabetically by subject or title. No index.

This series contains translations done by Michael J. Hagerty for the U.S.D.A. under Swingle's supervision. It includes translations from reference works (70-71); article translations (72-74); and a major translation of the citrus accounts of the Chinese Imperial Encyclopedia (75).

SERIES: Chronological Correspondence File.

Box 76-85.


4.2 lin. ft.

Arranged chronologically except box 85, arranged alphabetically by subject. No index.

This series contain correspondence between Hagerty and Swingle, separated by Swingle throughout their work together. It includes single letters (76-84) and correspondence arranged by subject by Swingle (85).

SERIES: Project G Material.

Box 86.


0.21 lin. ft.

Arranged in alphabetical order. No index.

This box contains work done by Hagerty on a compilation of biographies of Ch'ing dynasty Chinese.

SERIES: Oriental Material.

Box 87-88.


0.84 lin ft.

Arranged alphabetically by title of author. No index.

This series contain oriental writing manuals and publications in Chinese or about China.

SERIES: Photographs and Miscellaneous.

Box 89-90


0.72 lin ft.

Arranged alphabetically. No index.

This series contains photographs used by Hagerty for a published work (title unknown) (89). It also includes memorabilia, charts. etc. (90)

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

This collection is open for research.

Physical access

This collection is kept in an off -campus storage facility. Please contact Special Collections at with the boxes you are interested in prior to your visit, and allow up to 1 week for delivery of materials.

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

Walter Tennyson Swingle Collection finding aid © 1989 University of Miami. Requests to reproduce or publish materials from this collection should be directed to

Languages of the material

  • Dutch
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Latin

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Container list by Marcia Evanson

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270.9 KiB


May 18, 2018 3:24 PM

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