Finding Aids to Personal Papers and Special Collections in the Smithsonian Institution Archives
Record Unit 7356
Cowan, Richard S., 1921-1997
Richard S. Cowan Papers, circa 1952-1985 and undated
Richard Sumner Cowan (1921-1997), a systematic botanist specializing in neotropical flora, received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1952. From 1952 to 1957, he served as Assistant Curator at the New York Botanical Garden. Cowan joined the United States National Museum (USNM) in 1957 when he was appointed Associate Curator in the Department of Botany. In 1962, he was appointed Assistant Director of the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), and, in 1965, Director. Cowan retired from administration in 1973 and resumed his research as a Senior Botanist at NMNH. He remained in the position until his retirement in 1985. Cowan's primary research interest is the systematics of legumes in tropical America.
This collection documents Cowan's career as a systematic botanist at the New York Botanical Garden, USNM, and NMNH. Included are incoming and outgoing correspondence concerning the identification of specimens, the preparation of scientific papers and monographs, and professional activities; a subject file mostly documenting his research; and files relating to his work as Secretary of the National Committee of the International Botanical Congress, 1969.
For additional materials documenting Cowan's botanical research and administrative career at NMNH, see Record Units 155, 197, and 9501.
This collection is indexed under the following access terms. These are links to collections with related topics, persons or places.
- Cowan, Richard S., 1921-1997
- New York Botanical Garden
- National Museum of Natural History (U.S.). Department of Botany
- United States National Museum
- National Committee of the International Botanical Congress
- Columbia University
- National Museum of Natural History (U.S.). Assistant Director
- International Botanical Congress (1969)
Physical Characteristics of Materials in the Collection
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7356, Richard S. Cowan Papers