Anna Murray Vail
Anna Murray Vail (January 7, 1863 – December 18, 1955) was an American botanist and first librarian of the New York Botanical Garden. She was a student of the Columbia University botanist and geologist Nathaniel Lord Britton, the force behind the founding of the New York Botanical Garden, and was active in its creation.
Anna Murray Vail
|Died||December 18, 1955 (aged 92)|
|Institutions||New York Botanical Garden|
Anna was born in New York's east side, the first child of David Olyphant Vail and Cornelia Georgina (Nina) Van Rensselear. On her mother's side, she is descended from two of New York's most elite Dutch families, the Van Rensselear and Van Cortlandts. Her great-great-grandfather was General Robert Van Rensselaer, who fought at Ticonderoga during the American Revolution under the orders of his mother's brother in law, General Philip Schuyler. Her younger sister, Cornelia, married Henry Golden Dearth a distinguished American painter.
Her father, David Olyphant Vail, was the son of Benjamin C. and Eliza Ann (née Archer) Vail. David O. Vail's connection to the Olyphant family is through his maternal grandmother, Ann Mckenzie (1782 – November 5, 1857). Her first husband was Zeno Archer, whom she married in 1803. Their daughter was Eliza Ann who married Benjamin Vail. Following Zeno's death, Ann McKenzie Archer married David W.C. Olyphant.
David O. Vail is listed as a "merchant" on an 1862 ship manifest and in a Van Rensselaer family history is described as "...resident partner of the house of Olyphant & Company at Shanghai, China." His death notice describes him as being "...lately of China...", but it is not clear where or of what he died in 1865 at age 32. His middle name, Olyphant, and the fact that he worked for Olyphant & Company reflect his connection to that family on his mother's side. Olyphant and Company, founded in 1827 by David WC Olyphant and Charles N. Talbot, was one of the pioneers of the Old China Trade.
Her early education was in Europe but by 1895 she was back in the United States and working at Columbia University with Nathaniel Lord Britton, who with his wife Elizabeth Gertrude Britton, was the founding force behind the New York Botanical Garden. In January 1900, she became the first librarian of the newly founded Bronx institution, a post she held until September 1907. While in New York, she was the author of over a dozen scientific papers (see bibliography). Her notes, preserved in the Archives and Manuscripts collection of the New York Botanical Garden, include sketches of some of the plants she studied.
In 1903 Vail traveled to Paris, France, for an auction of the botanical literature of the late Professor Alexis Jordan. She obtained over 400 items, including ten volumes of John Sibthorp's Flora graeca.
An account in the records of the New York Botanical Garden presents Vail's resignation from the Garden's Library as resulting from her indignation of being accused of smoking cigarettes in the library. However, this account is disputed by a letter in the files of Nathaniel Lord Britton dated September 28, 1907, which mentions her departure as being due to an extended separation from her mother, who was living in France. This letter indicates no ill will.
In 1911 she moved to France. During World War I, she became active in the American Fund for French Wounded, eventually becoming its treasurer. A letter to the head of the U.S.-based organization, Mrs. Schuyler Van Rensselaer, was published in The New York Times. The letter reads, in part,
Every department of the Red Cross has borrowed nurses and aids, and we of the American Fund have given everything we had for the emergency. If it gets worse, I shall offer my own services, for I can make beds and clean up, and no part of the work will terrify me, even if I am not a trained nurse.
While living in France she acquired a house in Hericy. Here she would spend her remaining years, continuing her work as a librarian until blindness forced her to stop. She died in Vieux Logis on December 18, 1955 and is buried in the municipal cemetery at Hericy.
- Vail, Anna Murray. A Study of the Genus Galactia in North America. Bull. of the Torrey Botanical Club. 22:500 – 511, 1895.
- MacDougal, Daniel T, Vail, Anna M., Shull, George H. and Small, John K. Mutants and hybrids of the oenotheras. Carnegie Institution of Washington, Publication No. 24. Papers of Station for Experimental Evolution at Cold Spring Harbor, New York. No. 2., 1905.
- Vail, Anna Murray. Onagra grandiflora (Ait.), a species to be included in the North American Flora. Torreya 5:9–10, 1905.
- MacDougal, Daniel T, Vail, Anna M and Shull, George H. Mutations, variations and relationships of the oenotheras. Carnegie Institution of Washington Publication No. 81. Papers of the Station for Experimental Evolution, No. 9. Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, DC 1907.
- Vail, Anna Murray. "An Undescribed Species of Kallstroemia from New Mexico." Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. No. 24, no. 4, pp. 206–207, 1897.
- Britton, NL and Vail, Anna Murray. An enumeration of the plants collected by M.E. Penard in Colorado during the summer of 1892. Contributions from the Herbarium of Columbia College; no. 75, New York: Columbia College, 1895.
- Vail, Anna Murray. Jane Colden, an early New York botanist. Torreya 7:21–34. 28 F 1907.
- Vail, Anna Murray. The June flora of a Long Island swamp. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, 22, p. 374–378.
- Vail, Anna Murray. Studies in the Leguminosae. I, II, III. Reprinted from Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, 23: 139–141, 30 Ap. 1896; 24: 14–18, January 28, 1897; 26: 106–117, March 18, 1899. New York: [Columbia University], 1899.
- Vail, Anna Murray. Contributions to the botany of Virginia. Memoirs of the Torrey Botanical Club v. 2, no. 2, 1890.
- Vail, Anna Murray. A preliminary list of the species of the genus Meibomia, Heist., occurring in the United States and British America. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, vol. XIX, no. 4, April, 1892.
- Vail, Anna Murray. A revision of the North American species of the genus Cracca. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, vol. XXII, no. 1, Jan. 1895
- Vail, Anna Murray. A study of the genus Psoralea in America. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, v. 21, no. 3, March 24, 1894
- Vail, Anna Murray. Report on a Trip to France and Holland by Miss A.M. Vail, Librarian. Journal of the New York Botanical Garden, v. 4, No. 45, September 1903
- Vail, A. (1897). Studies in the Asclepiadaceae.-I. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, 24(6), 305–310.
- Vail, Anna Murray. "Studies in the Asclepiadaceae.-II." Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, vol. 25, no. 1, 1898, pp. 30–39.
- Vail, Anna Murray. "Studies in the Asclepiadaceae-VI. Notes on the Genus Rouliniella." Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, vol. 29, no. 12, 1902, pp. 662–668.
- Vail, Anna Murray. "Studies in the Asclepiadaceae-VII. A New Species of Vincetoxicum from Alabama." Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, vol. 30, no. 3, 1903, pp. 178–179.
- Vail, Anna Murray. "Studies in the Asclepiadaceae-VIII. A New Species of Asclepias from Kansas and Two Possible Hybrids from New York." Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, vol. 31, no. 9, 1904, pp. 457–460.
- Vail, Anna Murray. "A Preliminary List of the North American Species of Malpighiaceae and Zygophyllaceae." Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, vol. 22, no. 5, 1895, pp. 228–231.
- Britton, Elizabeth G., Anna Murray Vail, D. A. Burnett, E. Classon, George G. Kennedy, and George N. Best. "New or Rare Mosses." The Bryologist 1, no. 2 (1898): 41–43.
- Vail, Anna Murray et al. "NOTES ON THE SPRING FLORA OF SOUTHWESTERN VIRGINIA." Memoirs of the Torrey Botanical Club, vol. 2, no. 2, 1890, pp. 27–56.
- Small, John K., and Anna Murray Vail. "Report of the Botanical Exploration of Southwestern Virginia During the Season of 1892." Memoirs of the Torrey Botanical Club, vol. 4, no. 2, 1893, pp. 93–201.
- Vail, Anna Murray. "Notes on Covillea and Fagonia." Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, vol. 26, no. 6, 1899, pp. 301–302.
- W. W. Spooner, THE VAN RENSSELAER FAMILY, American Historical Magazine, vol 2 # 1, 1907.
- "Rhode Island, Marriages, 1724–1916," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/F8VL-K6N : accessed March 4, 2013), David Olyphant Vail and Cornelia Georgina (King) Van Rensselaer, March 27, 1862.
- Arrival Record, SS Africa March 14, 1862 in NY,
- Van Rensselaer and Allied Families, Americana, vol 14, page 299, 1920
- "DIED". The New York Times. April 18, 1865. Retrieved April 29, 2013.
- "A WIDE-REACHING FAILURE". The New York Times. December 8, 1878. Retrieved April 29, 2013.
- List of Staff Members New York Botanical Garden 1896 to 1939, J. NY Botanical Garden, vol 41 #485, May 1940
- Callery, Bernadette G. (January 1, 1995). "Collecting Collections: Building the Library of the New York Botanical Garden". Brittonia. 47 (1): 44–56. doi:10.2307/2807247. JSTOR 2807247.
- Britton, Elizabeth G.; Vail, Anna Murray; Burnett, D. A.; Classon, E.; Kennedy, George G.; Best, George N. (April 1898). "New or Rare Mosses". The Bryologist. 1 (2): 41. doi:10.2307/3238611.
- Anna Murray Vail Papers, Mertz Library, New York Botanical Garden, http://www.nybg.org/library/finding_guide/archv/vail_ppf.html, accessed January 25, 2017.
- American Fund for French Wounded Monthly Report, Vol II, Sept – Oct 1917, Nos. 21 – 22
- "OUR WOUNDED SPLENDID". The New York Times. August 8, 1918. Retrieved April 29, 2013.
- IPNI. Vail.