Illustrations preservation project
at the university of arizona herbarium
Accessioning the illustrations
Accessioning (cataloguing) illustrations into the Herbarium's collection required establishing a numbering system, assigning a number to each illustration, and noting identifying information for each illustration. The following is an example of an accessioning entry for an illustration:
On the back of the illustration shown below, Lucretia B. Hamilton, the illustrator, wrote the scientific and common name of the plant (Sapium biloculare, Mexican jumping bean) as well as her name as the illustrator and the date of the illustration. Her notations include a description of the plant, including its flowers, and the areas where the plant typically grows. She describes the ethnobotanical uses of the plant and notes the name of the insect larvae that gives the plant its common name of "jumping bean". An additional note indicates that the illustration was prepared from a dried herbarium specimen and not a live plant.
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Often the name of the plant, the date of illustration, or even the illustrator is not noted on either the front or back of the illustration. Further investigation is sometimes needed to thoroughly document an illustration lacking this information.
In the Herbarium's collection are some 650 unsigned pen-and-ink illustrations, all obviously drawn by the same illustrator but with no identifying information, front or back. The artist who drew these excellent and very detailed works, primarily of native Sonoran Desert plants, was eventually discovered to be Evelyn Thornber, the niece of John James Thornber who had worked at the University of Arizona in several capacities from 1901 to 1962, one of which was curator of the Herbarium. Several of these unidentified drawings of cacti were found in J.J. Thornber's book, The Fantastic Clan. The Cactus Family and were attributed to Evelyn Thornber. These works were obviously intended for some sort of publication, but that information has yet to surface.